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The Virginia Board of Education delayed public hearings on new draft of history standards which proponents say will offer a fuller and fairer picture of America's past.
State law requires standards to be updated at least every seven years. Revisions to the 2015 history and social studies standards began under former Gov. Ralph Northam, D., with input from experts on indigenous, African American, Asian American and Hispanic history, among other cultures.
Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow believes there are deficiencies in the proposed updates that first need to be addressed.
“We’re on our way to having the best standards in the nation, and I don’t want any of us to settle for anything less,” Balow said.
YOUNGKIN BLASTS VIRGINIA EDUCATION PROPOSALS SEEKING TO STRIKE GEORGE WASHINGTON AS ‘FATHER’ OF US
For instance, Balow criticized the draft standards for the use of the word “succession” instead of “secession” and further referenced the removal of the “Father of our Country” title for George Washington and “Father of the Constitution” title for James Madison. The Department of Education has said that was an “inadvertent” error.
Parents told Fox News Digital their concerns about the initial proposed changes.
“As a parent I am shocked by the nonsense of even a thought of the removal of the nomenclature, ‘George Washington, the Father of our Country,’ and ‘James Madison, the Father of our Constitution.’ I am grateful for the five new Virginia Board of Education members who put the brakes on the aim to ram through these destructive ‘updates’ to the Virginia State history curriculum,” Elizabeth McCauley of the Virginia Mavens said.
She added that schools should be more concerned about improving literacy rates across the state.
“The editing and removal of history is a slippery slope,” she continued. “We the parents stand behind Governor Youngkin who has stated students should be taught all of history! What concerns me further is the low literacy rates in Fairfax County in particular. Why are we even spending a second on this nonsense of rewriting history as it will simply lead to further confusion for children, the removal of truth and fact and the open door to indoctrination rather than education. When a process of curriculum revision is rushed it is a red flag that there are hidden agendas that need to be brought to light.”
Virginia Mavens founder Tyler Ohta was equally offended, agreeing with Gov. Glenn Youngkin, R., that “history still needs to be taught in entirety.”
“Without our Founding Father and first president, Virginia's own George Washington, there is no United States of America, so it is appalling (sic) that it would even be considered to remove his title as ‘The Father of Our Country’ from the Virginia State curriculum,” Ohta told Fox News Digital. “Our greatest export, the longest running Constitution in the history of the world, was in large part a result of the work of our ‘Father of the Constitution,’ James Madison. If we are not teaching our children their own history we are no better than the Marxists who want to see our culture destroyed through cancel culture and the erasure of history.”
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Atif Qarni, former state secretary of education under Northam, defended the proposals in an interview with VPM News. She argued that current history curriculum in Virginia doesn't provide enough details about marginalized groups in the U.S., such as the history of Chinese Americans. The current standards, she said, only mention that Chinese Americans played a role in making the railroads.
“When students walk away from an entire K-12 curriculum and the biggest contribution that Asian Americans had was in the railroad industry… that does a disservice,” Qarni said. “It doesn’t give a holistic perspective of the Asian American diaspora and experiences throughout American history, and it doesn’t do it for other groups as well.”
Cassandra Newby-Alexander, a history professor at Norfolk State University, recommended details about the history of lynchings of Black people be added to the standards.
“There's a mythology that Virginia didn't have too many lynchings, that somehow that was a lower South thing, which of course was not at all true. But that was the mythology built into the history of Virginia,” she said.
Newby-Alexander said she engaged with students while helping draft the proposed changes and found that they would welcome the revisions because currently history classes focus too much on the wars.
“I think that long ago, there were these thoughts that if we talked about these wars, it would build patriotism,” she told VPM News. “And actually, what it does is it builds a lot of complacency about history.”
Some parents took issue with additional pages of the 400-page draft document besides those pertaining to patriotism. Harry Jackson, a Parent Advocate with Parents Defending Education, found fault with page 18, noting the change from “good citizenship” to “responsible citizenship,” and arguing it is part of an attempt to push “non-academic related social justice issues.”
“The change from ‘good’ to ‘responsible’ is important, as a responsible person, by definition, has an obligation to act, or to care for others,” Jackson told Fox News Digital. “This is part of their stratagem in the larger context in our nation’s culture wars as they are teaching children that they have a responsibility to value diversity as it pertains to race, gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity. This change in the social studies curriculum will be used to advance non-academic related social justice issues regarding compelled speech to use one’s preferred pronoun as well as the responsibility to affirm one’s chosen gender identity.”
FAIRFAX COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD CRITICIZED FOR ‘BAFFLING,’ ‘ANTI-SCIENCE’ MEMO ON MASKING
Virginia experienced a parental uprising the past two years, with parents becoming increasingly upset with local school boards across the state over progressive curriculum, strict COVID-19 mandates, and more.
Several voters who had already been disenchanted with Democrat Terry McAuliffe said he hammered the nail in his campaign's coffin during his debate with Youngkin when he said, “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.”
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In his first day in office, Youngkin issued an executive order to “end the use of inherently divisive concepts, including Critical Race Theory, and to raise academic standards.”
Wednesday marked the first time the state board of education met with the new members appointed by Youngkin.
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