GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - A local woman plans to turn in hundreds of signatures to the District 51 School Board Tuesday night after she says multiple students told her their conservative viewpoints were being silenced by their teachers, but other students' liberal opinions were not.
Local attorney Rose Pugliese is petitioning the School Board to create and enforce an official policy that bars teachers from applying their political views to the teaching and grading of students.
As a former school board candidate and a sponsor of a high school Young Republicans group, Pugliese says she's all for teens getting involved in the political process and exploring different political ideas.
"Let the kids decide for themselves or debate amongst themselves," says Pugliese. "But to be told what to think, I think that's a problem."
A problem that she believes is creeping into local classrooms. "I don't think there should be any partisan politics in class at all," says Pugliese. "Liberal, conservative, it doesn't matter -- there's no place for it."
For the past several weeks, she's been circulating a petition asking the School Board to make sure teachers are teaching the facts and not their opinions. She was able to collect more than 600 signatures.
"These kids are concerned, their parents are concerned, and now the community is concerned," says Pugliese.
School District 51 told 11 News it could not comment on the petition because it has not received it yet or had time to review it. But officials did refer us to a policy the District has on the teaching of controversial issues.
According to that policy teachers must:
-Gather facts and opinions that represent various viewpoints on the issue
-Show respect for every person who discusses any aspect of the issue
-Employ techniques designed to stimulate discussion and develop understanding of the various viewpoints
But in spite of the policy already in place, Pugliese says she hopes the Board will consider looking into the issue.
"Whether or not they take what I'm doing seriously, I hope they start looking at our schools and making sure that we provide the best education possible," says Pugliese.
Pugliese also plans to turn in a second petition to the School Board asking them to either remove the topic of global warming from their curriculum or include what she calls a "conservative counter" to the "liberal theory."