The anti-CRT movement has evolved into targeting what Republican legislators are calling “divisive concepts.” Divisive concepts are usually defined as dealing with race and gearing it towards “not making one race feel guilty over teaching American history.” These new laws also include subjects like gender and are usually ambiguous in defining what topics can be spoken about to children in the classroom. States like Alabama and Georgia have similar bills working through their state chambers. It also seems Virginia is taking their education system on a similar route.
Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin made Critical Race Theory a campaign point on the way to winning the gubernatorial election last November. According to the Virginia Mercury, in an interim report, Youngkin’s administration ended virtually all equity initiatives launched by the state’s Department of Education and terminated an audit tool that helped local school divisions implement their equality standards.
Youngkin released a statement stating, “Our Virginia students should not be taught to discriminate based on sex, skin color, or religion, and VDOE policies should certainly not recommend such concepts.”
The Virginia Association of School Superintendents (VASS), which oversees 133 local divisions, spoke out against these moves. In particular, VASS President Ben Kiser hits back at the “misinformation” of Youngkin’s campaign around education:
“We recognize that was a campaign issue. However, we’ve never agreed with that,” VASS President Ben Kiser said, according to The Virginia Mercury. “It’s a topic that’s gained traction — a lot of misinformation, a lot of assumptions and very little research as to what’s actually being done in schools. It just got legs and now we’re trying to respond to it as those campaign positions are now becoming policy and legislation.”
The group of superintendents also stated the administration never consulted them on any of these changes before they were made:
In the letter, the group said the administration did not seek division superintendents nor other stakeholder groups for input before the report was published, adding that they weren’t consulted before the administration moved to rescind several policies, programs and resources that aimed to improve student success in underserved communities.
Lastly, Kiser went on to criticize a tip line formulated by the Youngkin administration for parents to report if they think critical race theory or divisive practices are being taught to their children.
“The administration can be a catalyst for positive stakeholder relationships through messages and actions. A tip line for parents to report divisive content to the Governor impedes positive relationships; therefore, the tip line needs to be terminated,” Kiser stated in the letter.