The Virginia State Conference of the NAACP (Virginia NAACP) denounces Governor Glen Youngkin and the Virginia Department of Education’s (VDOE) proposed revisions to the history and social studies standards as an attempt to rewrite history to a narrower, whitewashed perspective, and unduly burden educators by requiring “open access to all instructional materials.” The recommended revisions to the curriculum are divisive and will deny Virginia’s school-age children the opportunity to learn accurate American history.
The Final Report of Recommendations offered by the Virginia Commission on African American History has been disregarded. In its place, the new proposed standards are replete with inaccuracies and material omissions. It is outrageous that the draft proposal has erased Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. from the K-5 standard. The treatment of Reconstruction has an inadequate representation of Black Americans; there is no mention of Juneteenth and the discussion of the ancient empire of Mali, which illustrates that the history of African-descended Virginians began before the Atlantic slave trade, is removed from the third-grade standard. Compounding erasures of People of Color, there are only two mentions of the contributions of Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders to American history. Indigenous People are inappropriately and inaccurately referenced as America’s “first immigrants,” despite the undisputed fact that they were well-established, thriving civilizations in the Americas thousands of years before the advent of European colonization.
“These revisions illustrate that politicians and educators are attempting to reify the myth of American exceptionalism. History is more than a recitation of names, dates, and events. Complete and accurate history gives students the ability to think critically and analytically, necessary skills that are virtually impossible to acquire without exposure to complexity and context. The contributions of Black Americans to Virginia’s history have been significantly diminished, compromising the accuracy and completeness of the curriculum” said Dr. Amy Tillerson-Brown, Virginia NAACP Education Chair.
Robert N. Barnette, Jr, president further added, “The alternative to promoting the teaching of social justice is promoting the teaching of social injustice, which is what effectively happens when diverse historical events and interpretations are eliminated from history curriculum.”
The Virginia NAACP demands that the VDOE Board of Directors reject the erasure of Black life and history from school curricula. The Virginia NAACP is committed to promoting excellence, equitable, diverse, honest school curricula and will continue to fight for the inclusion of Black history and the histories of other ethnic minorities.