Community effort leads to a win for education and diversity in Garfield school district
Voces Unidas is celebrating a big win for the Garfield RE-2 School District and the community members who stood up by knocking down efforts to adopt the contentious social studies curriculum known as the American Birthright Standard (ABS).
Despite School Board President Tony May’s attempt to stop a vote to adopt the state-approved standards for social studies curriculum by pulling the discussion off the agenda at the last minute, community turnout estimated at more than 100 people – including 30 of 31 public speakers who opposed ABS – forced the school board’s hand, prompting school board member Christina Maness to motion for a vote. Following two tie votes, the board eventually decided by a vote of 3-1 to adopt the state standards over the politically charged ABS, which promotes radical patriotism and religion while denying the role of minorities and immigrants in the history of our nation.
May cast the lone dissenting vote.
Before voting, the board heard public comment and a presentation from a standards review committee made up of more than 50 community volunteers, all of whom overwhelmingly rejected ABS and the impacts it would have on their children’s education.
Voces Unidas took a leadership role in organizing opposition to the controversial ABS curriculum that was rejected by the Colorado Board of Education in October 2022, initiating a letter campaign resulting in some 65 emails sent directly to the four board members and gathering nearly 170 signatures on an online petition calling for the adoption of the state-approved social studies standards that emphasize diversity, equity and inclusion in the study of history.
“This was a big win for sure,” Regional Organizing Manager Alan Muñoz said afterward. “Voces Unidas had 10 local leaders at the meeting and three of them gave public comment, including Irene Wittrock, who testified in Spanish to let the school district know that we are here and the district needs to do a better job of making Latinos feel welcome and allowing us to have our voices heard.”
The student population in the Garfield RE-2 School District is about 55% Latino.
After months of discussion, the Oct. 25 vote made it clear that an overwhelming majority of the community opposed the ABS being pushed by May, with commenters saying it would “fail our children” and reminding board members that "it is your duty to represent the community, not your own agenda." Not a single member of the standards review committee ranked ABS as their top choice among the three options in a ranked choice vote.
We’re proud of our role in this victory and grateful to the Garfield RE-2 community for coming out to support education and diversity!