Youngkin administration releases report on ‘concepts of division’ in Virginia schools

RICHMOND, Va. – The administration of Republican Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin has canceled a series of policies, memos and other resources related to diversity, equity and inclusion that it called “discriminatory concepts and dividers” in the state’s public education system.

In an interim report released Friday, Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow presented early findings from a research of these “divisive concepts,” including critical race theory, which Youngkin entrusted to her as the one of his first acts after being sworn in as governor.

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The report did not identify any instances of Critical Race Theory being taught in the classroom. But he cited a range of Department for Education online documents, memos, a webinar and a math pilot program as examples he had identified and was either canceling or evaluating.

Youngkin, who took office in mid-January, has campaigned on education issues and specifically on the promise to rid Virginia schools of critical race theory, or CRT, which is a way of thinking about American history through the prism of racism. It focuses on the idea that racism is systemic in the nation’s institutions and that they function to maintain white dominance in society.

He called Friday’s report “a first step in improving Virginia’s education system, restoring high academic expectations, equipping our future generation to be career or college ready, and providing equal opportunity for all.” Virginia students.

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Democrats have long argued that CRT is not taught in K-12 schools and that the term has been weaponized by Republicans who more broadly oppose other diversity or curriculum reform initiatives. They went wild on Youngkin Friday.

Eileen Filler-Corn, the House Minority Leader, said the governor was “adopting a bizarre far-right agenda” and engaging in “race-based witch hunts designed to intimidate educators and censor our story”.

Virginia Democratic Party Chairwoman Susan Swecker said the report “launches a new chapter in Governor Youngkin’s racist agenda to whitewash Virginia’s history and attempt to cover up the existence of racism in our Commonwealth and our nation”.

Elicia Brand, a Loudoun County mother and co-founder of the activist group Army of Parents, welcomed the report, which she said shows Youngkin is delivering on her promises to parents like her who are concerned about CRT.

In a letter at the start of the report, Balow wrote that it contained only a “sample of critical material based on race theory”.

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“However, the concepts have spread to the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) and school divisions in Virginia and we will need to proactively review policies, practices and pedagogies across the state to enforce the law on civil rights and comply with Executive Order One. ,” she says.

One of the priorities Balow’s report said had been canceled or would be assessed was an Education Department initiative called EdEquityVA. A description still available late Friday afternoon on the department’s website described the initiative as “combined efforts to advance equity in education, close achievement gaps and increase opportunity, and reduce the disproportion of student results”.

Balow wrote that many resources within EdEquityVA “use the concept that current discrimination is necessary to address past discrimination. earlier.)”

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Another initiative highlighted in the report was the Virginia Math Pathways Initiative, which Youngkin had previously canceled by executive order.

The program aimed to modernize the way math is taught. Critics linked it to critical race theory, however, because early drafts of the initiative included a discussion of eliminating options for elementary and middle school students to take very advanced math courses. . Reformers have criticized accelerated math paths in part because they believe children don’t fully master material if they advance too quickly, and because they believe it creates inequities because students of color have historically had fewer opportunities to participate.

Brand, the Loudoun activist, said she was especially happy to see the Math Pathways initiative scrapped. She said it’s false progress for a program to claim to close an achievement gap by simply retaining top-performing students.

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“It’s discrimination,” she said. “What they should be doing is uplifting all the students.”

The 19-page report was late. Youngkin’s executive order called for it 30 days after Jan. 15.

The Associated Press filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the document and was told late Thursday afternoon by an Education Department official that it was “still in the works.” elaboration”. The report was dated Wednesday.

Under Youngkin’s executive order, another report is due in about two months, identifying all “executive and legislative actions necessary to end the use of all inherently divisive concepts in public education.”

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The Democratic-controlled state Senate did not look favorably on much of Youngkin’s education program during the current legislative session, and among the measures the chamber killed was one aimed at critical race theory.

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