Jan 26, 2022 - News

Denver elementary school draws fire for Black Lives Matter lessons

Illustration of alphabet blocks, spelling "BLM"

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

Denver Public Schools is supporting an elementary school's plans to participate in a Black Lives Matter week of action despite outrage from conservative sectors.

Driving the news: Centennial Elementary in the Berkeley neighborhood will take part on Monday in the national program that emphasizes racial and gender diversity, as well as restorative justice and empathy.

  • The district issued a statement to the Denver Gazette saying students will learn age-appropriate lessons "to start important conversations about how our unique perspectives and experiences are contributions to our society that should be celebrated."

What's new: The decision sparked backlash across the country after the conservative organization Parents Defending Education disparaged the lessons as "indoctrination" and FoxNews reported on it.

  • A man posing as a parent entered Centennial Elementary under false pretenses Monday and became verbally abusive toward staff, according to 9News, citing a letter the principal sent to parents. He then approached parents outside the school at dismissal carrying a sign that read: "Your kids aren't racist!"
  • Principal Laura Munro told parents that the school is fielding "many angry and vulgar emails and calls" from people outside of Colorado and is seeking additional police patrols at the school.

Between the lines: The school's focus aligns with the Black Excellence Resolution signed by the Denver school board in 2019 to improve education for Black students. Black History Month starts on Tuesday.

  • District schools have broad leeway on how they tackle the effort. This is Centennial's second year using the Black Lives Matter lesson plans.
  • "It is the mission of DPS to provide all students the opportunity to achieve the knowledge and skills necessary to become contributing citizens in our diverse society," the district said.

This story first appeared in the Axios Denver newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard. Subscribe here.

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