News Topic

Action Alerts, AHA Announcements

The agenda for the February meeting of the Virginia State Board of Education (VBOE), scheduled for 9:00 a.m. ET on Thursday, February 2, suggests that state Superintendent Jillian Balow has decided to proceed without consideration of the December collaborative combined history standards developed and endorsed by the AHA in partnership with VASCD and VASSLC. The AHA has sent the following message to its members in Virginia.

Support Collaborative Combined History Standards for Virginia

  • WHAT?: Provide written comments and in-person testimony in support of the collaborative Combined History and Social Science Standards for Virginia
  • WHEN?: 9am on Thursday, February 2nd
  • WHERE?: At a meeting of the Virginia State Board of Education on the 22nd floor of the James Monroe Building, 101 N. 14th St., Richmond, VA 23219
  • WHY?: To support strong history teaching in public schools and democratic processes in school governance
  • HOW?: By signing up in advance to testify or submitting written comments. Consider the AHA’s comprehensive critique of Balow’s January 6th  standards draft or use the bullet points below to support your testimony.
  • WHO?: You!

The December collaborative combined standards draft:

  • Has been endorsed by the American Historical Association, the largest professional organization for historians in the United States, as well as the National Council for the Social Studies and seven statewide partners
  • Grew out of collaboration between Virginia historians and educators (including AHA staff) who carefully combined earlier drafts as advised by the VBOE
  • Has been vetted by leading historians, scholars, and educators

In contrast, Superintendent Balow’s January 6thdraft:

  • Teaches students how to feel about history and memorize facts instead of how to think and understand
  • Deletes all references to fascism, including in the context of World War II
  • Deletes references to working conditions, labor unions, and strikes, included in prior state standards
  • Asks teachers in Virginia and US history (Grade 11) to ignore the history of Indigenous peoples prior to 1492 and instead praise Christopher Columbus for his “entrepreneurial characteristics”
  • Includes typos, factual mistakes, and a narrow focus on a singular narrative of both U.S. and world history