Virginia Board of Education delays action on history standards

Published: Nov. 17, 2022 at 10:47 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WDBJ) - The Virginia Board of Education has delayed action on new standards of learning for history and social studies.

The proposal had drawn strong opposition from critics who said it whitewashes Virginia history.

Dozens of people spoke out against the revised standards during a Board of Education meeting Thursday.

“I love my state so much and I’m tired about being on the wrong side of history,” said one speaker.

“This process was supposed to be transparent and democratic, but unfortunately it’s been the complete opposite. It’s been politicized. It’s been subverted,” said another.

“We want the best-in-class history and social science standards,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow. “We want students to learn all of Virginia and U.S. history. We want to make sure that students learn how to think, not what to think. That is still the goal.”

Balow defended the process, saying the companion framework includes much of the information that critics say has been omitted.

After discussing the issue for several hours, board members voted to continue refining the proposal, taking into account all the feedback they’ve received.

The following is a statement from the Virginia Secretary of Education’s Office:

“Virginians deserve the best History and Social Science standards in the nation. As Governor Youngkin consistently reiterates, our commitment is to provide best-in-class standards guided by his foundational principle to teach all of our history — the good and the bad. A first step in accomplishing that goal required decoupling Virginia’s standards and instructional guidance (called curriculum frameworks), which had been combined and conflated under the Northam administration in an earlier draft. We made that first step to better serve the teachers and parents utilizing these documents and, yesterday, the State Board of Education moved forward our revised draft standards document for further revisions and public comment before accepting the standards for first review at a later meeting. Now, the Board and the Department of Education staff are working to correct any omissions and errors as we continue to seek public input, including through forthcoming public engagement sessions and Board hearings. We are grateful to all of the Virginians and historians who have provided input since January of 2021, and look forward to continued public engagement and input.”