Proposed revisions to Virginia history standards receive backlash at hearing

Published: Nov. 17, 2022 at 4:11 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Dozens of people went before the Virginia Board of Education on Thursday to sound off on proposed changes to how history is taught inside the classroom.

An overwhelming majority of those who spoke were opposed to the latest document. Some are concerned Sikhism, the fifth-largest religion in the world, won’t get enough attention.

“For his classmates to know about his history, about who he represents is very important for his safety,” said one Henrico County father.

African Americans are concerned their stories and struggles would be forgotten.

“In 2022 this isn’t about improving the narratives in history. This is about suppressing people of color’s voices,” said Arrington Evans, NAACP VCU Chapter.

Indigenous people are offended they were labeled as America’s first immigrants.

“And now I’m an immigrant in my own land? I’m not an immigrant. Not yet. I’m still here. I’m still here. How are you going to get off calling me an immigrant,” said Aaron Winston, who is against updated revisions.

The state superintendent apologized for the error.

“The Indigenous peoples of Virginia were here long before any other settlers or any other immigrants were here and it was wrong to label them as immigrants in the standards document and we will make sure that that is corrected,” said Jillian Balow, Virginia Superintendent of Public Instruction.

The standards will set Virginia’s expectations for student learning in history and social science, which are assessed through the Standards of Learning (SOL) tests.

Education officials point out that the standards document discussed today is the first part in the process, and then they will work the fine print into the curriculum framework.

“The framework from August literally should be called socialism 101. Everybody missed the mark,” said Anne Taydus with Virginians for Children First.

The board of education will host a series of public comment opportunities in January with the hope of making a decision on all of this by February 2.