The Virginia State Board of Education is delaying review of the state’s social science standards at the request of Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow, who said there was a need to correct errors in the draft standards and receive additional input.
The proposed 2022 History and Social Science Standards of Learning, a more than 400-page document which outlines the goals and principles of the state’s history and social science education, were initially expected to be ready for a final review in the board’s November meeting. However, Balow proposed a new timeline in a letter to the board Monday, which the board accepted three days later.
The first review of the standards document is set for the board’s Nov. 17 meeting, followed by community sessions in November and December. Public hearings are scheduled for Jan. 9-13. The curriculum frameworks will be worked on alongside the standards. Final review and adoption are expected in February. Then the frameworks will be finalized between March and August.
Balow described this as a “generous timeline,” but she hopes to have the frameworks finished before August.
“I want to be very realistic, because I have made a couple of short shots in the previous months,” Balow said. “And I want to make sure that our team has ample time to apply their expertise and to continue getting input until the last moment.”
She said she is waiting on input from various groups and stakeholders, including representatives from American University, Hillsdale College, University of Virginia and others. She said if she had been in her position when the Department of Education began the review process, these would have been included.
Anne Holton, who was appointed to the board in 2017 by former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, said the standards document had been released in June and she did not understand why the standards and framework could not be presented to the board in November as originally planned. She said she thinks the standards document is a “very strong draft” that has already had input from national, state experts and members of the state Board of Education.
“I don’t understand who are the voices that want to weigh in on this that haven’t been paying enough attention to have weighed in by now,” Holton said.
Christonya Brown, the Department of Education’s history and social science coordinator, told the board that official public comment has been closed since Sept. 25. However, the department has continuously received public comment on the standards directly from the public through a “mailbox” set up specifically for receiving comment on the history and social science standards, as well as received input from the board members who had reached out.
Balow noted several errors and other issues in the standards document that still need to be fixed before it goes out for the community engagement sessions.
Today’s Top Stories
Start your morning in-the-know with the day’s top stories.
The decision to delay the process has been criticized by the Virginia Education Association and said there is a need for “partisan politics to be put aside.”
In a statement from James Fedderman, president of the association, that “It’s time to reopen this process to the public for final input. Delaying the standards further will cause real harm: If they are not released until late summer, educators will not have sufficient time to review them and create quality lessons and learning materials for a new school year.”
Multiple times throughout the discussion, board members asserted that the history and social science has been politicized in the past. Board member Grace Creasey said that for her, the decision is not political, but it is about getting the best curriculum and standards out for educators.
“This is not in any way, shape or form political for me,” Creasey, who was appointed earlier this year by Gov. Glenn Youngkin, said.
Youngkin appointed five new members to the nine-member board in September.
The last time the standards were reviewed was in 2015. According to the Code of Virginia, standards of learning for each subject must be reviewed at least once every seven years. This process has been on-going for the last two years.
Kelsey Kendall, firstname.lastname@example.org