Virginia Board of Education meeting heats up over history standards

Dozens of educators addressed the board

RICHMOND, Va. – Dozens of frustrated teachers, parents, and students went in front of the Virginia Board of Education Thursday.

Their frustration stems from the proposed revised standards of learning for history and social science.

“The history standards released on Friday represent the worst kind of politically motivated medaling with academic instruction,” one educator said. “The standards are full of overly political bias, outdated language to describe enslaved people and the American Indians. A highly suggestive framing of American moralism and conservative ideals.”

Original revisions made by educators in August included a larger focus on African American history, which they say has now been almost completely taken out, along with most other changes.

“Our children deserve to see themselves reflected truthfully and accurately in the pages of their history books,” another educator and parent said.

They also noted that Native Americans are mislabeled in the new standards.

“They egregiously mislabel Native Americans as ‘first immigrants’ - asserting that Native Americans first immigrated from Asia,” a teacher said.

Not everyone agreed with the opposition, saying that critics are not thinking of the students they represent.

“I’m listening to hours of people talk about something that they don’t even know about,” one opponent and teacher said. “The framework for August should literally be called Socialism 101.”

Critics of the revisions are urging the board to revert to the proposed standards from August.

“The VEA calls on this board to honor their commitment to the children of this commonwealth, and to choose the standards that are written to help our children succeed,” a teacher said.

10 News reached out to the Governor’s office for comment where they said: “The draft standards are being molded to ensure our students learn all history - the good and the bad.”

The NAACP released a statement in response to the proposed revisions.

“Proposed revisions to the history and social studies standards as an attempt to rewrite history to a narrower, whitewashed perspective ... The Virginia NAACP is committed to promoting excellence, equitable, diverse, honest school curricula and will continue to fight for the inclusion of Black history and the histories of other ethnic minorities,” the NAACP said.

A comparison of the two revisions can be found here.

About the Author:

Abbie Coleman officially joined the WSLS 10 News team in January 2023.