Support learning truth in Virginia K-12 public education!

Tell the Board to reject Youngkin's SOLs!

Students and teachers in Virginia public schools are in danger of having to use a history and social science curriculum (SOL) that is racist, factually inaccurate, and developmentally age-inappropriate. This is especially alarming because the originally-proposed SOLs took steps in the right direction to teach about U.S. and Virginia history from diverse perspectives from a wide range of communities.

This “original” draft never received serious consideration by the Board because Superintendent Jillian Balow kept making excuses for delays after delays. It is not evident, she used that time to convene her own experts, including far-right, conservative institutions, like Hillsdale College and the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, to completely rewrite the proposed standards.

The Youngkin standards are a disaster, failing to provide a quality K-12 public education for Virginia students.

Some examples of the changes:

  • References to Native Americans as America’s “first immigrants,” stripping away their history and heritage as indigenous peoples and downplays the brutal impact to Native Americans due to westward expansion, except with a brief mention of the “Trail of Tears”
  • Minimal references to Asian American & Pacific Islander experiences, limited to brief mentions of Japanese American incarceration (referred to as internment) and the 442nd regiment
  • Removal of any mentions of LGBTQ+ history, Juneteenth, Cesar Chavez, or “racial conflict” compared to the original version
  • Removal of content on Martin Luther King, Jr. and the importance of MLK Day from K-5 standards. Instead, adding age-inappropriate content for third graders to learn about the Greek and Roman historical figures like Hadrian and Hippocrates
  • Recommendation that first graders read Peter Sis’s “Follow the Dream: The Story of Christopher Columbus,” a book that has been widely criticized for denying that there was any conquest and infantilizes indigenous communities (like the Taino)
  • Little discussion about the human impacts of enslavement in early Colonial Virginia, but emphasis on the economic and legal lens of the slave trade and tobacco plantations
  • Advancement of the myth that the Founding Fathers were guided by Judeo-Christian beliefs, which is not historically correct
  • Is Euro-centric. Greatly expands teaching Greek and Roman history while stripping the content of other non-Western civilizations (which is traditionally taught in Virginia), such as India, China, and Mali

On top of the obviously alarming problems with the content, Virginians should also be disturbed that the Youngkin standards were developed with no public input. In contrast, the original version was created in partnership by hundreds of educators, parents, students, historians, professors, museums, and state department of education staff considering over 6,000 public comments. Comments came from Virginians, not out-of-state actors with known political agendas, like Hillsdale College.

The blatant disregard for the integrity of the SOL process already in place tells us whose voices the Superintendent and the Youngkin administration really value.

Support including AAPI experiences in Virginia K-12 public education!

Virginia is home to many communities with differing backgrounds and histories. Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) have been critical to the story of Virginia and the United States for several generations. Yet these stories (like many) remain limited, incomplete, or inaccurately told. It is important that these narratives are included in our state’s K-12 education because people develop personal and community values through understanding historical events and impacts in context, and exploring perspectives through reading, writing, and sharing ideas during these years.

This year, the state is updating the Standards of Learning (SOLs) for History and Social Science. This process happens once every 7 years and the final SOLs are decided by the Virginia Board of Education (VBOE).  SOLs are the state-mandated standard for student assessment and teacher curricula across the Commonwealth. Hamkae Center wants AAPI experiences included alongside our fellow Virginians because learning about different community struggles, contributions, and experiences can:

  • help community members feel accepted, understood, and confident to make positive impacts
  • promote empathy towards difference and new ideas
  • strengthen critical thinking skills and develop well-rounded perspectives
  • combat harmful narratives that inspire violence or disrespect to people and communities

Add your name to our petition to let the VBOE know you support the inclusion of AAPI experiences in the revised History and Social Sciences SOLs. Learning about these and other historically excluded communities are important to understanding Virginia’s past, navigating the present day, and shaping everyone’s future!

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Letter to the Virginia Department of Education