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Draft K-12 history standards now in hands of Board of Education

Zowee Aquino, alongside members of the Hamkae Center, spoke at Thursday's Board of Education meeting.
Mallory Noe-Payne
/
RadioIQ
Zowee Aquino, alongside members of the Hamkae Center, spoke about the revision process at a November Board of Education meeting.

In the latest step of a contentious revision process, new draft K-12 history standards have been delivered to the Virginia Board of Education. The state’s Superintendent of Public Instruction turned in the document Thursday, according to a news release.

The new document lays out guidelines for teaching Virginia students about history and civics. "This is a public-facing statement about the broad learning goals of what students are expected to learn and demonstrate at each grade level," superintendent Jillian Balow said during a briefing with reporters Friday afternoon. Curriculum frameworks, which offer more detailed direction to teachers, are also being revised.

The draft standards document says students should be exposed to the facts of the past, even when those facts are uncomfortable. It also says teachers should engage students in ways that do not suggest they are responsible for historical wrongs.

Principles listed in the draft include "America is exceptional and not perfect" and "Centralized government planning in the form of socialism or communist political systems is incompatible with democracy and individual freedoms."

Read the full draft

The routine revision process was already well underway when the new Republican-appointed superintendent stopped it last year and solicited feedback on the revisions from a number of conservative-leaning organizations.

“These draft standards are stronger because they reflect the contributions of subject-matter experts, thoughtful citizens, and a broad set of organizations across two administrations,” Secretary of Education Aimee Guidera said in a news release.

Some history and education advocates have criticized the process and the revisions. "Creating standards is a public process," Balow said Friday. "It is always open to scrutiny. It is always open to comments."

If the board accepts the new standards at its February 2nd meeting, a series of public hearings will be scheduled before a final vote by the board. The new standards would be implemented for the 2024-2025 school year.

Updated: January 6, 2023 at 2:40 PM EST
The story was updated with comments from Superintendent Jillian Balow following a Friday afternoon media availability.
David Seidel is Radio IQ's News Director.
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