(CBS4) – In Colorado there are no state standards for teaching about the 9/11 terror attacks in schools, meaning depending on the district, school, or teacher students could have a very different understanding of what took place. That’s something that troubles some teachers, knowing the generation of students now in grade school weren’t even born when the attacks happened.
Nationwide, only 14 states require 9/11 to be taught – and according to a 2017 study – 26 states mention 9/11 as a part of a teaching standard, sub-standard, or example. Colorado isn’t one of them.
The Colorado Department of Education says the state board is set to review the state’s social studies standards this fall, and the revision committee has recommended the 9/11 attack be included as an example in one standard, a spokesperson tells CBS4.
Currently, the 9/11 curriculum is a sensitive issue some schools are hesitant to discuss publicly. Three metro area school districts turned down CBS4’s requests to interview teachers about their approaches to the 9/11 curriculum, but Mapleton and JeffCo Public Schools offered some insight into how they inform students about what happened.
“Sometimes, when they don’t have first-hand knowledge of something, it gets forgotten, and we don’t want to repeat that history,” said Chief Robert Rodwald, an aerospace science instructor for Mapleton Public Schools. “It’s very important that we remember it, and the sacrifices and service of those first responders who went up, while the towers were coming down.”
Rodwald is an instructor for the school district’s Air Force Junior ROTC program. This week, he showed students in the program a video about 9/11, to help them have a better understanding of what took place.
Cheyanne Morrell, 16, a new participant in the ROTC program, said she didn’t know much about 9/11 until now.
“It’s still a surprise to me because I didn’t truly understand any of this in middle school, my teachers never really took the time to have us reflect on this or learn about this event, and this is kind of the first year I’ve seen any of those videos,” she said. “I never really paid attention, up until this year, because this is my first year in ROTC.”
Some of her classmates knew a little more, but want to keep learning.
“I think for the most part any conversations surrounding 9/11 is pretty devastating,” said Kiana Gutierrez, a senior in the program. “I think kids my age are pretty shocked when they hear about it, and learn about it, just because we weren’t born yet, but I also think that it’s important to just recognize the lives that were lost at any point in history in this country.”
Every year, the ROTC program puts on a 9/11 memorial service for the entire Mapleton School District.
At Pomona High School in Arvada, social studies teacher Dale Munholland says he’s looking forward to having an open discussion with students on Friday about the impact 9/11 has had on the U.S. over the last 20 years.
“I found having these conversations helps them kind of piece together all this information that they have, but they don’t really understand how it’s all connected, you know, Afghanistan, the War on Terrorism and, the Patriot Act, and what goes on in airports,” Munholland said. “They understand all these things but they don’t know how it all fits together.”
Munholland plans his curriculum in chronological order, so he says students will get an in-depth lesson about 9/11, and the events before and after, toward the end of the school year in the spring.
“It is important because that was a humongous moment in our nation’s history, it was a watershed moment, it completely changed the direction of the country forever, and it’s certainly important for kids to know, because they’re the future in the country, and in order to move forward in the future they’ve got to know what happened in the past,” Munholland said. “It’s tremendously important for them to understand what happened, why it happened, the fall out, and then in the future, they get to work with what comes after that.”