Pushback on report from Youngkin’s office taking aim at ‘divisive concepts’ in schools

A wave of criticism followed an interim report from Virginia’s superintendent of public instruction that takes direct aim at public schools relaying “divisive concepts” relating to diversity, equity and inclusion.

Jillian Barlow’s report, released Friday, outlined the initial findings of a search for concepts, including critical race theory, that Republican Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin had asked for on his first day in office.

Now, some who oppose the report’s findings are speaking out: Virginia’s legislative Black caucus calls it another attempt by Youngkin “to further revise, rewrite and erase history.”

The caucus’s letter closed by saying “it is clear the governor is centering the voices of a few while silencing the voices of many.”

The Virginia Democratic Party tweeted out a statement saying the report demonstrated Youngkin’s “intent to whitewash Virginia’s history,” and that the governor is “committed to eliminating Black history lessons from our classrooms.”

The Youngkin administration has rescinded a series of policies, memos and other resources related to diversity, equity and inclusion that it has labeled “discriminatory and divisive concepts” in the state’s public education system, The Associated Press reports.

The state’s education department also says it has rescinded everything that had been on its “culturally responsive website” since it contained concepts that could be considered divisive.

The report did not identify any instance of the teaching of critical race theory in the classroom.

But it pointed to a range of Department of Education materials, memos, a webinar and a math pilot program as examples it said it had identified and rescinded.

It mentioned in particular topics that “redress bias in the system; include ‘culturally responsive’ efficacy in teacher evaluation; mitigate power imbalances; develop policies to advance ‘anti-racism,’ be change agents for social justice and academic equity.”

EdEquityVA, which has described itself as an effort to advance education equity, eliminate achievement gaps and increase opportunity, is one of the programs rescinded by the report. Balow’s report describes EdEquityVA as teaching that current discrimination is needed to address past discrimination.

A web series titled “Teaching 9/11” has also be rescinded.

Included in the 19-page report were what Barlow called a sampling of critical race theory based materials highlighted by the initiative.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

John Domen

John started working at WTOP in 2016 after having grown up in Maryland listening to the station as a child. While he got his on-air start at small stations in Pennsylvania and Delaware, he's spent most of his career in the D.C. area, having been heard on several local stations before coming to WTOP.

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