Virginia adds additional Black history to public education requirements

Multiple topics will now be among required learning in the commonwealth

Stock image of school desks (Wokandapix/

Virginia has added new requirements when it comes to the subjects of history and social science.

On Thursday, the Virginia Board of Education approved a series of edits to implement recommendations from Governor Ralph Northam’s Commission on African American History Education in the Commonwealth.

Students as young as kindergarten will see changes in what they’re taught.

“Incorporating additional context about African American history into the larger historical narrative has never been more important. The approval of these edits to the standards and curriculum framework begins Virginia’s effort to change the course of history and social science instruction to ensure inclusive and culturally relevant content in all grades and courses,” said Board of Education President Daniel Gecker in a news release. “I thank the members of the commission for their recommendations and for their commitment to supporting teachers as they implement these revisions in their classrooms.”

This change will expand the content of Virginia’s history standards by adding additional depth and context.

For example, the addition of Old Point Comfort to the framework for Virginia Studies (typically taught in fourth grade) provides more specificity to the standard about the arrival in 1619 of the first African Americans in British North America.

Another recommendation approved by the board is the addition of content about the history of lynching in America to the high school Virginia and U.S. History course.

The Board of Education will also consider commission recommendations that would represent the introduction of new content and areas of study during the comprehensive, regularly scheduled review of the History and Social Science Standards of Learning, which will begin next year.

The review will culminate with the adoption in 2022 of new history and social science standards.

About the Author:

Jeff Williamson arrived at WSLS 10 in March 2016.