FCPS superintendent sharply criticizes Virginia's proposed history standards

The Virginia Board of Education is taking heat from Fairfax County Public Schools Superintendent Michelle C. Reid, over the board's overhaul of its history and social science standards. 

Ahead of the final standards review next month, the seven-page letter from Reid sharply criticizes the board for a lack of transparency and breaching the public's trust. Reid says the proposed standards -- approved on a first reading by the board last month -- do not meet the requirements of Virginia law.

The standards are revised every seven years, with the last one being done in 2015. Since then, the Virginia Department of Education began reviewing the standards, and eventually released a draft of revisions last August. 

After that, the superintendent at the time, Jillian Balow, paused the process and put forward a new draft in November. The board made further revisions, and the third draft, which the board approved, was released in January. 

Reid says that January draft ratchets up pressure on teachers and shoehorns too many standards into the curriculum that cannot possibly be taught in a single school year.

Officials from Virginia's Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ACSD) reiterated the superintendent's stance.

"So second grade, we're talking about 7 and 8-year-olds, they added 21 standards. So if we're thinking about same instructional time, and you take the standards that they're learning now, and add on 21 standards. That's just a sheer volume issue," says Chris Jones, the executive director of Virginia's ACSD.


Jones adds about the new standards that "the shift from teaching students how to think. to teaching them what to think. is going to be just an absolute memorization, 'alright here are the facts because we've got to move. Here's who this person is, here's this date, here's this location in history' without getting to really understand the context."

Superintendent Reid also adds that the January draft promotes bias by adding the predominantly Christian holidays to the school calendar without adding other religious holidays.

In November, a spokesperson for the Department of Education said by releasing these new standards the Commonwealth's schools will actually be going back to the historic process that was in place where the standards of learning come out first followed by a more detailed document for educators on how to apply the standards.


Spotsylvania County Public Schools considers shutting down libraries, laying off staff

In Spotsylvania County, Superintendent Mark Taylor announced they may eliminate school libraries and lay off more than 100 staff members if they don’t get the money they need to be fully funded.

A spokesperson for the department says the board has received Superintendent Reid's letter.