Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin , a Republican, criticized proposals from the Virginia Department of Education to remove references to George Washington as the “father of our country” in state schools, underscoring the need to “tell our history accurately.”
The proposed changes were part of the state’s curriculum reviews that occur every seven years to alter Virginia’s history and social science testing standards. The DOE is expected to discuss the proposal in a meeting on Wednesday, setting the stage for a lengthy debate as the board is comprised of appointees from the last three administrations, all with different views of public education.
"I believe we should tell our history accurately, the good and the bad," Youngkin, who was elected as governor last year after focusing much of his campaign on education, told Fox News . "And part of the history we're going to tell is that our Founding Fathers, including George Washington and James Madison, and let’s not forget about Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry and the others, played an extraordinary role in the founding of our nation.”
The proposal to remove the reference from statewide testing would have also sought to strike the reference to James Madison as the “father of our Constitution,” according to suggested changes to the state’s curriculum viewed by local outlets. However, the DOE later clarified the proposed changes were an “inadvertent error.”
"Note the reference to this content being moved to VS.7a. Unfortunately, it wasn't," a DOE spokesperson told the Washington Examiner in a statement. "This was inadvertent, something that was supposed to be done but wasn't, in making updates and edits to a 400-plus page document. The omission of the ‘Father of our Country’ and ‘Father of the Constitution’ language from VS.7a was noted in July after the draft was posted on the VDOE website. The correction was made (adding the bullet to VS.7a) in an August 4 version of the draft SOLs that was uploaded to the VDOE website yesterday."
However, the proposed changes were not dismissed by all members of the board. Atif Qarni, a board member appointed under former Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam, argued the changes would be the “best possible way to take a holistic perspective” on history and offer a way to provide “a balance between depth and breadth,” he told Fox 29.
The future of the proposal is unclear because it would be subject to review by the nine-member board, which includes four who were appointed by Democratic governors and five who were appointed by Youngkin, a Republican.