After pushback, Virginia’s Board of Education votes to delay curriculum update

There’s going to be a pause on the controversial revision to Virginia’s K-12 curriculum.

The Department of Education had first presented a proposed update to the History and Social Sciences Standards of Learning (SOL) in August that had been crafted during former Gov. Ralph Northam’s administration; but after criticism that it was too lengthy and confusing, a streamlined update was presented at a public meeting on Thursday and was met with vocal opposition from public participants, saying this latest version whitewashed history.

After discussion among the board members, a motion was voted on to delay moving forward with the latest draft update, so that it can be reworked to incorporate parts of the earlier August version and the public feedback since then.

Virginia Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow promised to make the whole process more transparent and timely going forward.

She also explained that certain topics, which appeared to be missing in the streamlined version presented in November, were not omitted; rather, they had been moved to a separate curriculum framework that was still being worked on.

“We want every single student in Virginia to continue to have access to the very best history civics, geography and economics education possible,” Balow told the board.

The entire board, including five members appointed by Gov. Glenn Youngkin voted for the delay. The board will schedule a special meeting once the new draft is ready.

Youngkin told Richmond Times-Dispatch that his administration is not trying to whitewash history.

“I said from the first day that I wanted us to teach all of our history, the good and the bad — all of it — and that’s been the directive that I’ve given to our Department of Education is to make sure that our history curriculum engages on all facets of our history, particularly those that are sometimes hard to talk about,” Youngkin said.

Supporters of the November version said it instilled critical thinking and required lessons on painful chapters in the country’s history, such as Supreme Court cases that enshrined white supremacy, that weren’t included in the earlier August version.

Shayna Estulin

Shayna Estulin joined WTOP in 2021 as an anchor/reporter covering breaking news in the D.C. region. She has loved radio since she was a child and is thrilled to now be part of Washington’s top radio news station.

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