Educational Editorial: History standards in Virginia

By Dr. Bill Bosher, NBC12 Educational Specialist

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The Fordham Institute has issued an analysis of the history standards that are required of students across the country. Most states received "D" or "F", and Virginia was given a "C."

Virginia's standards, first approved in June of 1995, have been praised for their rigor. This analysis is thorough, and its observations deserve review and consideration, BUT…it also raises some concerns about the very intent of their effort.

Inconsistencies in chronology are valid and the failure to provide enough depth to certain content is debatable, but the note that it is politically biased is in itself a political statement.

While the development of standards, assessment, and report cards was difficult, the crowds that attended public meetings on History standards were perhaps larger than all of the others combined. Discussions of "revisionists," varied perceptions of similar events, and "local color" were frequent points articulated with passion, power, and persuasion.

Whose history would be taught? Take a study of the American Revolution. Was it a fight for freedom or a rebellion? While I am convinced of the former, the British perception may be different.

And then there is Armenia …or the Civil War, War Between the States…or as my grandmother often referred to it, the War of Northern aggression.

While I continue to be proud that we are one Nation under God, it seems reasonable that History will naturally have bias, both personal and political.

This week IBM's Watson handily beat two of Jeopardy's all-time winners. A victory for artificial intelligence?...No, a victory for creative people who put the stuff in there.

Such is the case for History.

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