The Virginia Board of Education decided to pause the process of reworking the state’s History and Social Science Standards of Learning, that standards that determine what students are expected to know after going through classes.
This would be the first revision of the SOLs since 2015.
The more than 400-page document was slated for a “first review” vote, but Jillian Balow, Virginia’s superintendent of public instruction who was appointed by Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin, urged the body to delay this step for one month.
“It really comes down to two things: No. 1 is time, and No. 2 is corrections so that this document is ready for prime time,” Balow said.
Balow’s call came at the first meeting, which included five new board members who were appointed to the body by Youngkin. She also said the time would give staff more time to address corrections, including the absence of George Washington as “The Father of the Country” and James Madison as “The Father of the Constitution.”
That omission, which was first reported by WJLA, was an “inadvertent” error, according to the board.
The board’s president Daniel Gecker, who was appointed to the Board of Education by former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, joked about the news reports on the omission.
“It seems to have been picked up by the press as all of a sudden Virginia doesn’t want to recognize Washington and Madison, which, of course, is ridiculous,” Gecker said.
Other board members said the extra time can be used to address corrections.
“You know, I’ve had a lot of phone calls the last couple of days about the, you know, we might think it’s funny, about the George Washington or James Madison issue; but just as an organization and as a commonwealth, these are the things, too, that can get this whole process off the rails if we’re not careful,” said Bill Hansen, one of the newly appointed members of the board.
Some of the revisions in the proposed standards include more emphasis on local history and Virginia’s role in the American Revolution. It also includes a reference change, using “North America’s Indigenous Peoples” instead of “Native Americans.”
The decision was made to delay for a month, with the board coming back in September for a “first review” vote. That vote would pave the way for public hearings on the proposed revisions.