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WHITEWASHED: Virginia Gov. Youngkin’s shocking revisionist tweaks to elementary education

WHITEWASHED: Virginia Gov. Youngkin’s shocking revisionist tweaks to elementary education

WHITEWASHED: Virginia Gov. Youngkin's shocking revisionist tweaks to elementary education

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Governor Glenn Youngkin (R) of Virginia is fulfilling his promise to revamp social studies standards in the state – by deemphasizing the contributions of minorities, avoiding discussions of racism, and positing that slavery did not cause the Civil War, but was simply one issue among many “cultural, economic, and political issues that divided the nation.”

Also missing are references to Juneteenth, lessons about the LGBTQ community and its struggle for equal rights, and any mention of Indigenous People’s Day, with Youngkin’s standards reverting back to “Columbus Day.”

Talk of inequality – both social and economic – are minimized. Instead, Youngkin’s conservative ideology is given the right of way.

The seventh-grade guidelines, for instance, state that students should “evaluate the unique qualities of free enterprise and how democracy cannot survive without it.” By grade 12, students are expected to know about “government’s limited but important role in free enterprise.”

As to be expected, people are appalled by Youngkin’s selective editing.

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“It’s just another attack on trying to make history what they want it to be,” said James Fedderman, President of the Virginia Education Association, told Virginia’s 13 News Now.

Neither Rosa Parks nor Martin Luther King will be taught throughout all elementary school. When this was pointed out at the November 16 meeting for the Board of Ed, a line was added recognizing Martin Luther King Day. And that’s it.

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The word “China” was mentioned 81 times and the word “Chinese” 27 times in the old, 400-page guidelines, noting contributions from Chinese inventors, explorers, and immigrants. The new 52-page standards mention China a mere 10 times, and mostly for geographical purposes, only touching a bit on ancient China. There are no mentions of “Chinese,” and the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 has been – well – excluded completely.

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And then, of course, there’s the promised indoctrination: Youngkin has stated that he wants kindergarteners to learn “patriotism.” In other words, they’re expected to love America and not be too critical of it. And they must do the Pledge of Allegiance – something that may be difficult for Atheist kids since it includes the words “under God.” (Putting aside whether we should be having kids who don’t really understand what a pledge is swearing their allegiance to a country when they don’t really understand ideas about governance either.)

The old standards underwent intense scrutiny and received contributions from historians, economists, parents, teachers, and more. The new standards did not undergo such a process at all. Unsurprisingly, the new standards include various historical errors as well as many grammatical ones.

Among others condemning the new standards was the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus. Writing to BOE President Daniel A. Gecker, the VLBC wrote:

“These revisionist standards prevent Virginia’s students from learning about Dr. Marin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks until 6th grade. Students will not learn about important leaders and cultures that greatly contribute to the history and makeup of the United States. The new revisions also include coded racist appeals and blatant partisan bias.”

Youngkin’s previous attacks centered on abolishing critical race theory, the oft misunderstood and mischaracterized historical perspective that considers racism’s impact on American history.

The new standards are a strike against a non-existent foe. Yet Youngkin’s five new appointees to the Board of Ed will likely ensure that his standards carry the day. The board is set to meet again today.

Ty Ross contributed research.

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