Since his campaign began, Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin made it clear that he had every intention of remaking the Virginia education system into an extension of a broader anti-Critical Race Theory movement. To wit: Youngkin’s Virginia Department of Education has just submitted a 53-page proposal for what it thinks is the “proper” way to teach American history, according to ABC 13. At first, the Department stated it didn’t anticipate big changes.
However, the proposed changes seem to have taken a decisive turn toward picking and choosing when children should learn about aspects of history, and how they learn it.
- Kindergarteners to learn patriotism which includes pledging allegiance to the American flag.
- In 11th grade, students would learn about Christopher Columbus and about the race-based enslavement of Africans and more.
- Descriptions of why James Madison is called the “Father of the U.S. Constitution” and why George Washington is called the “Father of our Country.”
- No references to the ongoing legacy of slavery and how it affects the country.
- Removal of references that slavery was a major cause of the Civil War.
Proposals under previous Governor Terry McAuliffe that were also erased include lessons on the LGTBQ+ community and gender equality. Some additions include references to Japanese internment camps and hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan.
There was some controversy about an initial draft that omitted discussions of Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Juneteenth at elementary grade levels. That has since been revised in the new draft, where teachings about the civil rights leader would start in 6th grade.
Executive director of the American Historical Association James Grossman takes offense that Youngkin’s proposal never once mentions the word racism.
“That’s a problem,” said Grossman. “You don’t have to argue that racism is the central force in American history. You can argue that the central concepts in American history are freedom or liberty, or democracy, but you cannot teach American history without helping students to understand that racism has been a central theme. You just can’t.”
The Board of Education is set to review the draft policy by Thursday, November 17. A vote is not expected until early next year.