Hundreds of school students left their classrooms in the second largest school district in Colorado, USA, on Tuesday. They were protesting proposed changes to the history curriculum designed to 'promote partiotism, respect for authority and free enterprise' and to avoid school materials which could be seen to promote civil disorder.

The students were joined by parents in their protest which went on for three  days. They carried signs with slogans like 'Civil Disobedience is Patriotism!' and 'There is nothing more Patriotic than Protest!' and 'It's World History not White History!'

Teachers too have been playing their part - two high schools were forced to close last Friday when teachers called in sick in protest at both the curriculum proposals and a dispute about pay (in many states in the USA it is illegal for teachers to go on strike).

One senior high school student said that the history class was the best one he took. Not only that but it was through such classes that students realised that they had a right to protest: 'We're learning we can definitely stand up for what we believe in'. 

The Jefferson County school board has a conservative majority, which as well as wanting to change the curriculum is also actively promoting semi-privatised 'charter' schools. The member who proposed the plan to monitor and change the history curriculum said: "There are things we may not be proud of as Americans, but we shouldn't be encouraging our kids to think that America is a bad place." One of the protesting students countered this: "As we grow up, you always hear that America’s the greatest, the land of the free and the home of the brave. For all the good things we’ve done, we’ve done some terrible things. It’s important to learn about those things, or we’re doomed to repeat the past.”

The attack on democratic education is one of the key battlegrounds in the fight against neo-liberal education 'reform' globally. Once again school students have shown that they understand the importance of thinking critically about the world they live in and that they are prepared not only to speak truth to power but also to take to the streets to make their point heard.