While those already in power in education can make errors and mistakes without it causing their movement or team much harm, those trying to bring about change, and those fighting the establishment or system must be extra careful to avoid mistakes. Governor Youngkin and others credit the outrage over far leftist education as one of the main reasons they were elected, and in their attempt to update Virginia’s History and Social Science Standards of Learning, they made the mistake of giving their opponents ammunition to discredit their ability to lead on this important issue.  

Virginia’s proposed changes for the History and Social Science Standards of Learning have drawn outrage from leading professional organizations. A lack of historical accuracy and a disregard for pacing are among the leading complaints from organizations such as the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS), the Virginia Council for the Social Studies, the Virginia Social Studies Leaders Consortium, and the American Historical Association among others. In response to the January draft, the NCSS and the other organizations have developed a collaborative set of standards, and the difference between the two shows clearly which one was created by exceptional teachers and which one was not. 

Among the most remarkable changes made to the January draft was the omission of the term “fascism” in all World War II units. Though the term was included in the November draft in 11th grade, it was nowhere to be found in the following draft in January, even though the standards still included covering Mussolini. 

Another omission was the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) from the 6th grade U.S. history curriculum in the January draft. The white supremacist group only appears in the 11th grade standards, but not during the Reconstruction Era, during which the organization was founded. Instead, the KKK is covered during the Roaring Twenties unit during which the KKK largely focused on immigrants who were not white protestants, while still violent towards blacks. While the standards mention discussing “lynching, intimidation, and violence” they do not directly state that the KKK is required teaching during Reconstruction like the new collaborative standards suggest.

Although the omission of Martin Luther King Jr. from the elementary curriculum until 6th grade in the November draft was corrected in January’s revision, that should have never been a case for correction. While leading far left organizations are trying to diminish MLK Jr.’s legacy and replace it in the curriculum with Malcom X and other violent protestors, now is not the time to lessen any mention of MLK Jr. at any point.  

James Armistead Lafayette, the black spy who served during the American Revolution under the Marquis de Lafayette, eventually taking his surname, was also omitted in the January draft. In our lesson on the Culper Spy Ring, James Armistead Lafayette is covered with his own mini-biography. An excerpt from our lesson reads: “An enslaved African American, James Armistead is known for his brave contribution to General Washington and the revolutionary cause. With the permission of his master, he enlisted in the Revolutionary War in 1781. Armistead served under the Marquis de Lafayette, the commander of allied French forces. Lafayette appointed Armistead to be a spy with the hopes of gathering information on enemy movements. Armistead posed as a runaway slave who was hired by the British to spy on the Americans.”

In addition to these poor choices, the January draft had other problems. The NCSS cites misconstrued timelines and more omissions. The NCSS even identified the error in the standards in which the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is discussed during Reconstruction, when it was founded “more than a generation later in 1909.” Another error, or poorly worded section of the draft, was that the Marshall Plan applied to Japan in addition to Western Europe. Another unforgivable error is placing the September 11th attacks in the Cold War unit. The NCSS writes, “these are not matters of interpretation; they are straightforward facts.” 

Although more people and events could be covered, it is understandable that these people and events are yet to be learned by many, such as the legacies of William H. Carney and Jesse Brown, and the Virginia drafters are not at fault for not yet including them. Still, when previous drafts offer suggestions such as James Armistead Lafayette, and he is then omitted from the next draft, that is when it is a problem.=

Again, while we at The Locke Society support efforts to improve the education of our nation’s children, when an immense amount of time, money, and personnel are used to create an error-filled document full of obvious miscalculations and mistakes, it gives fuel to far leftist educators. When clear and obvious errors that are easily avoidable are made, it gives the radical left the opportunity to create headlines and dismantle any chance we have at reforming education.