NORFOLK, Va. — After months of public backlash and criticism, the Virginia Board of Education voted 5-3 to accept a recently introduced set of history and social studies standards for first review.
The process, completed every seven years, has been the subject of public scrutiny in the months following the new appointments to the state board by Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin.
The most recent January draft incorporates elements from previously written documents including an August version that included both standards of learning and curriculum frameworks, as well as a widely criticized November draft.
Many public commenters and speakers have criticized notable omissions and errors related to race and world history in the November draft. Those same speakers urged the state board to adopt the August draft, citing both the larger scope of work and the more extensive list of stakeholders that played a part in writing them.
Lawmakers have weighed in too, with the state's commission on civic education issuing a public letter of disappointment in the progress -- or lack thereof -- by the state board.
Lawmakers like Del. Schuyler VanValkenberg have criticized the right-wing nature of the groups asked to help author the November draft.
Delegate Suhas Subramanyam introduced a bill that would require the groups contracted to author these standards and their payments be made publicly available, but it was voted down in subcommittee hearings.
"Good or bad is now perceived as a political intervention into the process," said Dr. Tammy Mann, the Vice President of the Board of Education. Mann was one of the three votes to not advance the standards.
Many public commenters once again criticized the process and standards during the board's Thursday meeting before the vote.
"Virginians have a perception this agency is in disarray and the education of our kids is being politicized," one speaker said.
The January draft will now go through a public hearings process across the Commonwealth until the Board will vote on its adoption in April.
The expected adoption and implementation of the Standards of Learning and more developed curriculum frameworks aren't expected to be completed until August.