ANNANDALE, Va. (DC News Now) — Vanessa Hall said she always admired what her two teenage children learned about history in their Fairfax County school system.
It wasn’t the whitewashed history she was taught in the 1970s and 1980s that left out important contributions from and about African Americans, Asian Americans and others, she said.
“My kids love learning history the way history is taught today, with both the good and the bad. There’s this amazing contrast and this amazing feeling that we can do better in the future than what we did in the past,” she said.
With the Glenn Youngkin administration considering a controversial Kindergarten-through-12th grade reboot of its history standards, parents like Hall said that they are worried that the history taught won’t be as inclusive and accurate as it should have always been in Virginia classrooms.
“They talked about Martin Luther King, they talked about Rosa Parks,” Hall said of what her children learned. “These are all figures that I didn’t learn about in school. There was a huge chunk of history missing.”
The Virginia Board of Education has been lambasted in recent weeks for what many parents in Northern Virginia term as weakening history standards and lessening inclusivity.
The governor has promised after a public uproar erupted over his administration’s previous proposed standards, that slavery and racism would be taught in Virginia schools.
“We talk about topics that need to be taught at the right age level,” Youngkin said in a recent interview with DC News Now. “We also have a moment to step back and make sure that we take in lots of people’s input which I think we’ve done a very comprehensive job in doing.”
Tonia Bledsoe is one of the scores of parents who went to Richmond last week to address the state board and express displeasure.
“A lot of African American history outside of the Martin Luther King and those few things that they left in, a lot was left out,” she said. “A lot of Asian American history was left out.”
Bledsoe said the current standards as proposed by the Youngkin administration don’t measure up. She has an 11-year-old in Loudoun County schools.
“It is important for us to really important for us to do a better job of putting in the correct information and being inclusive and just sharing with our students the entirety of American history is,” Bledsoe said.
State Superintendent Jillian Balow was unavailable for comment, but her spokesperson provided a recent interview with DC News Now about criticism of the proposed standards.
“Standards development is not easy work,” Balow said last week. “I really encourage people to read the standards. It’s a 68-page document. It is meant for public consumption.”
Kelley Marlin, who has three children in the Chesterfield County schools system, said she’s troubled by the Youngkin administration’s history rewrite.
“I feel like they are playing a game where they are saying one thing and doing another,” she said. “The standards that were proposed by his new appointees are much less factual than those that were put together by the huge number of people that were involved in the first set of updates.”
Hall said she rejects the notion from some who support the new standards that more inclusive standards are indoctrinating students.
“I was indoctrinated to think that the founding fathers were infallible,” she said. “But they have falls like each of us. Ignoring those flaws, putting them up into hero status? … Thomas Jefferson for example — we revered Thomas Jefferson, and when I learned what he had done with his slaves, it shook my foundation. And it made me realize that I had been taught a lie.”