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Education or Indoctrination? Review of the Virginia History Standards Hearings

March 16, 2023 Virginia History SOL Hearing at Mount Vernon Library.
Mount Vernon Library Hearing. Photo Credit: Vanessa Hall

By the time you read this blog, public input will be closed for the Virginia History and Social Studies Standards of Learning (History SOLs). These public input sessions were required after the Virginia Board of Education (VBOE) decided in February to proceed with the January 2023 proposed revision of the History SOLs (a.k.a., the January version), in spite of overwhelming opposition to that revised version, and overwhelming support for the August 2022 proposed revision of the History SOLs (a.k.a., the August version).

Thus, the Virginia Department of Education (VA DOE) held six in-person public input opportunities around the state in impressive locations like the Jamestown Settlement or Mount Vernon Library, but in painfully small rooms unable to accommodate the concerned citizens of Virginia, most of whom recounted how the January version of the History SOLs were inadequate, offensive, exclusionary, and developmentally inappropriate for student learning and success.

Despite substantial logistical effort of VA DOE staff, it felt as if the Youngkin administration did not take these events or the public seriously. Of concern is that there is no available video from VA DoE or public record to review; thereby underlining ongoing concerns of accountability and transparency that has plagued the VA DOE process since August 2022. Fortunately, citizen journalists covered the events in Fairfax, Charlottesville, and Roanoke.

Of concern is that there is no available video from VA DoE or public record to review; thereby underlining ongoing concerns of accountability and transparency that has plagued the VA DOE process since August 2022

It should be noted that speakers had prepared to speak for three minutes, but in many locations, they were limited to two minutes due to a surprising volume of speakers; however, the VA DoE failed to give speakers the common courtesy of a visible timer. As a result, many speakers ran out of time and were curtly cut off.

Overwhelmingly, students, parents, teachers, elected officials, respected historians, and other citizens rejected Youngkin’s revisions during public input, except for a precious few who cited Judeo-Christian values, patriotism, or CRT. Speaker after speaker–old and young–demanded that the work of the August 2022 standards be respected and reinstated.

4 Public Education collected reports from four of the six hearings to recount representative citizen input reflected during the sessions.

Click the arrow on the left to expand each section:

Jamestown Settlement (Williamsburg, VA) – March 13, 2023

At Jamestown Settlement, people lined up in advance of the hearing to have a chance to speak. People spoke for and against the January SOL version, but it was apparent that the majority of speakers rejected the January version and supported the August version of the History SOLs.

For example, Kathryn Haines, Chesterfield School Board member pointed out that the August 2022 SOL version was produced after years of effort by numerous history experts but the January version was developed by undisclosed individuals with political agendas and had an unrealistic number of additional standards (132!) added that would not be possible for students to learn in the time they have available.

Mike Karabinos
Photo Credit: 13NewsNow

Mike Karabinos, of Chesterfield, pointed out that the superintendent, Jill Balow, who has since resigned in disgrace, produced the January version of the History SOLs in a partisan manner when history should be accurate. For example, she included a principles statement that said that socialist political systems are “incompatible with democracy and individual freedom,” which would not be well received by United States allies like Germany, Great Britain, Denmark, Finland, Norway, France, Australia, New Zealand, or Canada, all of which are socialist democracies.

Mount Vernon Library (Alexandria, VA) – March 14, 2023

Piedmont Virginia Community College (Charlottesville, VA) – March 15, 2023

At the Charlottesville hearing, most of the speakers were against the proposed January 2023 version.

Zowee Aquino, from the Hamkae Center, told the board that the proposed draft prevented the history of marginalized communities from being taught comprehensively or accurately.

Delegate Sally Hudson, the first woman to represent Charlottesville (the 57th district) in the Virginia State House, reminded us that one of the first things Governor Youngkin did was strip three sitting members of the Board from their seats, all of whom were appointed by Governor Northam and two of whom were African American, for the purpose of fast tracking these inferior standards.

David Broder, SEIU Virginia 512 Union President, offered a possible motive behind this version of the standards: the Youngkin administration is trying to eliminate the history of working people because those in power don’t want to be challenged.

O. Winston Link & History Museum of Western Virginia (Roanoke) – March 16, 2023

Abingdon and Farmville Hearings, March 20 and 21, 2023

There will be two more hearings held on the January 2023 proposed revisions to the History and Social Studies Standards of Learning:

The next steps taken by the VA DOE and VBOE will determine whether they have listened to the will of the people, or whether they choose to implement faulty, divisive, and inadequate standards for history and social studies across the Commonwealth.

4 Public Education thanks all of the Virginians that came out in the cold to far away unfamiliar locations to provide public input. We would also like to formally thank all of the allied organizations who are fighting for truth in history. In particular, we would like to thank the Hamkae Center, whose brave leadership inspired Virginians across the state.

1 комментарий

Mary Haak
Mary Haak
23 мар. 2023 г.

From the form designed to collect public comments, it appears they don't really want that input either. I had to submit over 20 forms to submit all my comments. You could submit additions or deletions to the standards, but not changes. Each grade had to be submitted separately, and then there was another form for the totally unnecessary politically-biased introductory material. What angered me most is they want to know whether I was a parent, teacher, administrator, historian or someone else. Talk about divisive. All Virginians should have an equal voice in this matter because society as a whole will be affected by students, Virginia's leaders of the future, who will learn (or not, as the case may be)…

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