GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KREX) — Garfield County School Board held a vote October 25 to decide whether to implement the American Birthright standard for social studies curriculum. Though the effort to pass the curriculum ultimately fell short, one district in Colorado managed to enact the standard.
Woodland Park’s school district was the first in the nation to adopt the Civics Alliance curriculum. The curriculum — rejected by the State Board of Education as well as the National Council for Social Studies — along with a gag order on teachers and non-renewals of grand funds for mental health, has led to multiple lawsuits and 40 percent of staff quitting by the end of 2022.
The American Birthright standard is a teaching system based on Christian values. The model focuses on Western civilization, patriotism, and Christianity, rejecting the inclusion of teaching methods that promote social justice, and diversity equity, and inclusion.
The NCSS says the standards “use outdated language, have a clear, political motive, and promote content and approaches to social studies and history education that do not align with those recommended by experts.” NCSS also stated if implemented, the standards would have “damaging and lasting effects on student civic knowledge and their capacity to engage in civic reasoning and deliberation.”
Now, Transform Colorado, a Christian conservative organization, is distributing fliers to Colorado churches and businesses with a purported voter guide on school board candidates throughout 29 school board races – including D51 in Mesa County, Delta County, and Garfield County. Printed on the fliers are several survey questions alongside candidate answers; questions posed include ones on “transgenderism” (sic), sex education and social studies.
Jessica Hearns, candidate for District A, tells WesternSlopeNow she wasn’t sure about answering the survey. One of the reasons why is she received an email with the questions on August 31 at 3 in the afternoon with a deadline of 3 p.m. the next day.
“Coupled with the timing that I had had it, I couldn’t figure out if this was a real group or not. And then the questions themselves just felt like if I responded agree, it was misleading, or if I responded disagree, it was misleading. I had chosen to just not even acknowledge it,” said Hearns.
Cyndee Skalla, also for District A, tells WesternSlopeNow she also received the questionnaire with little time to complete it. Skalla was also unsure about the included questions, feeling that the questions were too partisan for school board elections, which are nonpartisan. She also told WesternSlopeNow she’s grown weary of the black-and-white manner in which candidates are sometimes asked to respond.
“I’m just really frustrated with the ‘gotcha’ questions for both me and the other candidates as well… I just don’t think it gives a clear picture for why you answered ‘yes’ or why you answered ‘no.'”
Hearns also noted the questions they received did not have subject titles attached to them the way the fliers do.
I tried reaching out to one of the six co-founders of the Truth and Liberty Coalition – the organization backing Transform Colorado – but did not hear back.