Keep Truth and Democracy in our Public Education!

Due to overwhelming public opposition, the Virginia Board of Education (VBOE) did not proceed with the Youngkin SOLs on November 17th

Virginians from numerous communities - including but not limited to Sikh, Jewish, Black, Native American, Asian American, historians, educators, students, and parents - gave over 4 hours of public testimony, submitted thousands of emails, and rallied outside during the VBOE meeting on 11/17 demanding the Board reject Superintendent Balow’s “Youngkin standards” (November) and preserve truth in education. These public actions pressured the majority Youngkin-appointed Board to reject the November draft for first review.

However, now the VBOE wants the Superintendent to combine the Youngkin standards with the original draft - which would be like mixing oil and water. 

  • The November and August documents have fundamentally different goals, approaches, and values. 
  • During the November meeting, DOE staff said Virginians identified two main improvements for the 2015 SOLs: (1) understand the social impacts and drivers of history, and (2) include communities and perspectives that were historically excluded. The August draft was developed to accomplish those goals. 
  • In contrast, the Superintendent developed the Youngkin standards without considering the 2015 SOLs. They also removed content (new and existing) and flexibility for teachers to teach students how to consider diverse communities as part of American history. 

The SOLs and curriculum frameworks proposed in August 2022 took steps in the right direction to teach about U.S. and Virginia history, with diverse perspectives from a wide range of communities.

The Youngkin SOL preface and standards should not inform our state’s K-12 history classes at all. 

They explicitly continue to exclude communities and teach a limited perspective. 

  • LGBTQ communities were removed and most of the new and existing AAPI history is missing, and Juneteenth was deleted. 
  • Despite including a heading called "Expansion, Civil War, and Reconstruction," Youngkin's standards hardly address Reconstruction at all. The few included standards are broad and minimizing, with an emphasis on White political leaders or passive voice with no actors. 
  • Content that was taught in Virginia for decades was also taken out, such as India and China in 3rd grade, and Indigenous leaders like Chief Powhatan and Pocahontas. 

They are not age appropriate, especially for K-3 students. K-3 standards focused on concepts and topics that are not developmentally appropriate for K-3 students, such as the Code of Hammurabi, Sic semper tyrannis, and voter registration requirements.

The Superintendent has not been transparent in this process and cannot faithfully make unbiased SOLs that respect Virginian students, educators, and communities.

  • The Youngkin standards were created with feedback and comments from out-of-state actors with known political agendas, and ignored the existing feedback from Department of Education staff, hundreds of Virginia educators, parents, students, historians, professors, museums, and over 5,000 public comments. 
  • Sup. Balow publicly apologized for calling indigenous Virginians “immigrants,” but did not address the other issues and communities that the public named.
  • While Balow confirmed that Sheila Byrd Carmichael - an outside consultant associated with the Fordham institute - took the lead on the Youngkin SOL revisions instead of DOE staff, she refuses to release the names of organizations she consulted to create the Youngkin standards. 

What’s the solution?

  • The Board of Education needs to reject any content from the Youngkin standards and proceed with the original draft that was published on the Department of Education website and presented to the Board on August 17, 2022.
  • The Superintendent needs to release the names of the organizations she worked with to create the Youngkin standards and keep the SOL process transparent. 

You can take action to keep truth and democracy in public education! Contact the Board of Education and tell them you STILL oppose the Youngkin standards and do not want content from this document approved. Demand that the Board vote for “first review” of the original August version at their first meeting in 2023, and that the Superintendent tell us who she worked with by January 10th, 2023.

Demand that the Board of Education vote for “first review” of the original August version at their first meeting in 2023, AND
Demand that the Superintendent tell us who she worked with by January 10th, 2023. Remember to edit this template and add your experiences!

(ex: student, teacher, educator, concerned citizen, etc.)

To the Virginia Board of Education, Superintendent Balow, and Secretary of Education Guidera:

[your name will go here]

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