The Virginia State Conference of the NAACP (Virginia NAACP) supports the collaborative response of the American Historical Association, National Council for the Social Studies, Virginia Association of Curriculum Development, Virginia Council for the Social Studies, Virginia Geographic Alliance, & Virginia Social Studies Leader Consortium to the Draft History and Social Science Standards released by the Virginia Superintendent of Public Instruction (VSPI) on January 5, 2023.
Introducing historical content without opportunities for students to apply the knowledge gained as required by the Virginia Code § 22.1-253.13:1 cripples all Virginia’s students. The increase of subject matter required by the VSPI’s recent draft without an increase in instructional time will require teachers to heavily infuse rote memorization in their pedagogical approaches, which will inevitably replace opportunities for the application of the historical method. History is not simply a laundry list of names, dates, and events. Students of history must learn the skills necessary to think critically, to analyze, and to understand—skills that are near impossible to acquire without context.
“We are extremely disappointed by the number of mistakes and omissions presented in the current version of the VSPI’s history standards, namely, the ahistorical treatment of Indigenous people of North America, the chronology of American history that begins with European Exploration, the silencing of workers and African Americans in decisive events in American history like the American Revolution, and the incorrect periodization of the establishment of the NAACP, to name but a few”, states Dr. Amy Tillerson-Brown, Virginia NAACP Education Chair
In November 2022, the Virginia NAACP issued a press release committed to promoting excellent, equitable, diverse, honest school curricula throughout Virginia. Similar to the founding objectives of organizations like the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities (APVA), which historically legitimized Virginia’s traditions of white supremacy, states’ rights, and elite rule, we read the current iteration of the VSPI’s history standards as an attempt to reify the myth of American exceptionalism which in turn, mutes the voices of so many other contributors to our beloved Commonwealth. We have made too many gains toward more accurate interpretations of American history to accept this draft that will reverse accurate, forward-thinking, historical interpretations.
Like the above named organizations, the Virginia NAACP is encouraging all concerned citizens, to write the Virginia Board of Education urging them to adopt the Collaborative Standards developed by VSSLC, VASCD, & AHA and provide in-person comments at the next Virginia Board of Education meeting in Richmond.