Public Comments for: HB781 - Public elementary and secondary schools; student citizenship skills, etc.
Last Name: Cannon Locality: FREDERICKSBURG

I oppose HB781 with all my heart. I believe students need to see all sides of history - even those that are uncomfortable. Providing valid, truth-based discourse in our schools is required to have the informed citizenry needed in a democracy. Additionally, as a country we believe that "all men are created equal" and that all have the right to live as they choose as long as they follow the rule of law. Being different is NOT criminal. Putting on blinders and putting your fingers in your ears will NOT make divisive issues go away. They will be there when you finally open your eyes. We need to look at what is REAL in our country, prepare our children for the world we live in, and help them to understand complexities in safe school environments.

Last Name: Lane Locality: Martinsville

Comments Document

I am writing in opposition of HB781. It is unreasonable to say that we must avoid "divisive concepts" in schools, more specifically in history and literature classes, because it leads to the silencing of perspectives, the omission of truth, and the disregard for the human experience. Let us first explore two areas that are the focus of this bill: English and social studies/history/government courses. SS/History/Gov.: These standards already include gaining an understanding of the parts and functions of government. To gain a better understanding of historical events and their impacts, multiple perspectives must be studied objectively. An accomplished, effective teacher provides the information and allows students to come to their own conclusions after critical thinking and exploration. No teacher is actively making students feel shame based upon actions in the past. This may have found its way into the bill because of what is found on social media regarding the content of certain creators. How the author of this bill connected it to schools and curriculum is baffling. English: It is also clear that this bill was written from a place of ignorance as to what goes into the creation of literature. In the study of literature, we discuss WHY a text was created. Throughout history great literature has come from time of conflict because this is how the authors process the experiences and events. To eliminate a text because of what can arbitrarily be considered a "divisive concept" is a form of censorship. Based on this bill, ANYTHING that someone has an objection to can be considered a "divisive concept." An accomplished, effective English teacher provides students with multiple perspectives through the application of critical thinking skills as they study fiction and non-fiction texts that came from various historical periods. Classes discuss the impacts from multiple perspectives to consider how different groups processed what was happening during the time period. If you explore the standards for English courses, students are taught to think critically and reflect on issues relating to various facets of society including, but not limited to political struggles, gender equality, and civil rights. I am guessing that these would be considered "divisive concepts." Banning these is silencing truth. The idea that all curriculum materials must be made available by July 1 clearly shows a lack of understanding of how reading material selection and lesson development works. Could we provide the major texts? Yes. An accomplished, effective English teacher designs their curriculum by getting to know their students when school starts and adjusting their curriculum to address the students’ needs and interests. They also constantly look for relevant, new texts that can help provide a variety of perspectives. If the creator of this bill is so concerned for parent involvement, did they consider that schools hold open house nights before school starts? This is where concerned parents can find out the major texts and topics covered in the course. I feel as if the bill does not consider that parents can reach out to their child's teacher at any time. I find it interesting that one of the Federalist papers mentioned in the bill is one that warns of the dangers of allowing the values of the majority to represent what is good for everyone. This bill, if enacted, will actualize this warning and hinder the recognition and representation of the minority.

Last Name: Markham Locality: Staunton

I ask that you dispose of HB 781. First, it fails to recognize the function of the VDOE which already dictates the curricula in K12 education. Parents are already free to browse the content their children will be taught by reading the published SOL documents. Second, requiring teachers to post detailed lesson plans before the school year has even started is ridiculous. It's like asking a mechanic to tell you how he's going to fix your car before he knows what's wrong with it. I urge you to think about the ramifications of passing this bill. The pandemic and year of virtual learning created an extensive learning loss in students. Achievement gaps that we're closed by NCLB have widened. Virginia is suffering from an unprecedented teacher shortage. Parents have made it clear they want their children in the classroom, learning from teachers. This bill will precipitate a mass exodus from the profession. Don't allow that to happen.

Last Name: Claxton Locality: James City

House Bill 781 is a travesty. It’s not just that it wants to add misinformation to our Standards of Learning (students would have to learn about “the first debate between Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.” That never happened. The Lincoln-Douglas debates involved STEPHEN Douglas, not Frederick Douglass.), it’s that this bill is designed to produce uninformed citizens by censoring teachers. It misses the point that public education is for the public, not for parents. Parents have a say in their child’s education through voting for local leadership and talking to their children’s teachers. If they think something is objectionable, they can ask for an alternative assignment. Parents SHOULD NOT have the right to censor what OTHER PEOPLE’S children learn. We need an informed citizenry capable of critical thinking. That is the purpose of public education. I’d be shocked to find out that the author of this legislation is a product of public schools. I’d also like to know who the author of this legislation is, because I don’t think it was written by a Virginian. Please kill this legislation in committee. It’s terrible. It demands substandard teaching and substandard learning. Virginia citizens deserve better.

Last Name: Leone Organization: none Locality: Newport News

I am writing in opposition to HB781. I am a parent of two elementary public school students. Besides the general anti-education, anti-teacher sentiment of the bill, I am concerned about section G. The idea of a misdemeanor charge for altering plans is deeply disturbing. Curricula are already posted for parents to review. A teacher needs to have flexibility to change lesson plans based on the students that make up their class. This is not a standard to which we hold any other profession. Flexibility is a necessary component for effective teaching as something planned over the summer may or may not be appropriate for the students learning needs at the time. Also, this is requiring teachers to have their plans for the whole next school year provided by July 1. For many, this is only a couple weeks after the close of the previous school year and is certainly not reasonable turn around time. Please stop trying to prevent the teaching of "divisive concepts" and other coded language that is preventing the teaching of accurate history. People need to learn critical thinking and learn hard things, as is evidenced by the idea of this bills existence at all.

Last Name: Burnham Organization: none Locality: Leesburg

As a parent of an elementary school child in public schools, I adamantly oppose HB 781’s blatant attempt to whitewash history and fund charter schools for those parents uncomfortable with the idea of history being taught in a factual manner. History is full of amazing and awful things, including ideas like representative democracy, freedom, women’s suffrage, Manifest Destiny, Prohibition, white supremacy justifying slavery and many others. Any of these things can be “divisive” if one wants to be offended by them being taught. But they all happened, and there were reasons they happened. It is a shared origin we all have that has led us to the present, and we need to understand it if we are to be responsible citizens. It is precisely the kind of divisive rhetoric of those opposed to teaching factual history that tries to pit us against each other. And if people try to stick their heads in the sand about our history and how we got where we are, then that sand around their heads is dividing us further and keeping us from seeing and hearing each other in an accurate and compassionate way. If people want to stick their heads and the heads of their children in the sand, then they should pay for that option, not the Virginia taxpayer, for it serves no uniting or positive civic purpose for Virginians.

Last Name: Currier Locality: Aldie

I oppose this bill. Who is the decision maker on what a “divisive” concept is. What is divisive to one is not divisive to all. We are in school to learn critical thinking and develop skills to support opinions. Debate, communication, fact checking, learning from other cultures, are all integral to our communities. In addition, VA already has a detailed scope and sequence for learning and this has been publicly accessible for years. If a parent needs and wants to know what and when their child is learning something, it is and has been available. Most parents don’t take the time to look at what is already provided.

Last Name: Fitzpatrick-Navarro Locality: Brambleton

I oppose HB781.

Last Name: Works Locality: Sterling

I oppose this bill. Equity is not divisive. Certain “contending perspectives” don’t deserve the time of day let alone to be taught, by this I mean keep your fascist right wing ideology out of our schools. Lastly no vouchers ever.

Last Name: Wales Locality: Leesburg

I vehemently oppose this bill. Our tax dollars should never go towards vouchers, which would include religious schools, and is a clear violation of separation of church and state.

Last Name: Whitenack Locality: Purcellville

I oppose this bill in its entirety. Please stop trying to destroy education. Let teachers TEACH. Equity is not divisive. We do not want vouchers!

Last Name: Jacques Locality: Leesburg

This is a bill that I oppose to. I do not believe money designated for public schools should be used for vouchers. The money should be used for secular education and not religious education. If you look at the track record for places that have implemented schools vouchers, such as Arizona and Michigan, it is clear that they do not improve the education of our students. It is actually harmful to our students. School vouchers do not benefit students with a disability and encourages segregation. They also do not help lower income students despite the arguments that they do.

Last Name: Moye Locality: Loudoun

The voucher portion of this bill has been placed in here to hide it from VA citizens. Vouchers are a way to destroy public education and give less students opportunities for quality education for all students. Stop trying to hide vouchers and sneak this into getting passed.

Last Name: Lunney Locality: Leesburg

This bill has way too many other sneaky stipulations embedded into it ; in general it is a farce against general public education of our accurate history as it should be told. This bill should not be passed!

Last Name: Maples-Reynolds Locality: Leesburg

I oppose HB781 and I am just horrified this bill will criminalize teaching. I am confused asking for EQUITY is not DIVISIVE. The wording is vague and grammatically fraught with so many errors. Teachers are not the enemy and vouchers further widen our country's divide.

Last Name: Smith Locality: York

I write to you about my concern over HB781. While I do not propose that every teacher in the state is perfect, teachers go through numerous certifications and vetting procedures, and local schools and school boards provide supervision. With many of the materials (and even lesson plans) already online, schools are more transparent than ever. Local divisions already have policies against being political in school. I cannot help but wonder if this bill is more about trying to create a political media moment and intimidating teachers than about trying to ensure the quality of what is taught in our schools. Moreover, if a parent has an issue with a teacher, the parent should begin with open communication to the teacher and take it to the next level up if needed. Anyone who has ever worked with adolescents knows that sometimes there are misunderstandings, things taken out of context, and emotions during puberty run high. Do you really want to ruin the life of a state employee who faithfully often works 6 days a week, cares deeply about dozens of students, and who has committed his or her life to mediocre pay in order to teach? Furthermore, does the author of Section B know that schools already teach the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the Federalist Papers? My sons learned all that in Virginia schools. They also learned that Abraham Lincoln never debated Frederick Douglass—a point which may (wrongly) be dismissed as a small mistake, but one that should not have been made by anyone who presumes to dictate what should be taught. Finally, the author of the bill seems to assume that knowledge of our colonial past and early years would preclude anything divisive or troublesome. It is a grave and arrogant error to think that a person cannot know their history, love their country, and love it enough to honestly ask to hard questions of it sometimes. To make an analogy, we love our families but know they are not perfect. To stifle discussion of these issues regarding national history is to prohibit freedom and it is frankly un-American. In fact, it smacks of McCarthyism and Fascism. I hope your committee will see the faults in this bill and end it. Moreover, I hope you will open a dialogue with the many people at the Department of Education and teachers around the state who work so hard for our children. They deserve better.

Last Name: Rieder Organization: none Locality: Arlington

This bill is destructive to public education in the Commonwealth and I am unalterably opposed to its passage. This bill is based in a vaguely Orwellian concept of "divisive concepts" that makes it impossible to find common ground. The bill itself is a divisive concept (no quotations required because this is common usage and meaning of the actual words not a manufactured definition as the bill seeks). This bill is seeking not to address a concern as much as to wield a weapon. This bill is replete with threats-threats to teachers, threats to critical thinking, threats to public school funding. threats to local control of schools, threats to truth, threats to the teaching of current events and civics education, threats to school funding, and threats to the actual meaning of language.

Last Name: Thorne Organization: Richmond Public Schools Locality: Colonial Heights

Some of the language in this bill is irresponsible at best. Teachers may pull resources throughout the year and the need to have them prior to the school year is not feasible. As an English teacher, I often have conversations that may require a poem or article to be pulled to help with the academic discussion. How can you expect us to have it ready that early? I can provide materials with 48 hours notice (I saw that in the bill too), but a whole year in advance is just not realistic. Please think of the educators! You need to come into the classroom first. (I know some of the members on this committee have education experience). Please come to our classes. See the children and our challenges. I am appalled at trying to criminalize teaching. A class 4 misdemeanor?? When did we become the enemy? I love these children and am scared for the future of education.

Last Name: Horst Locality: Craig

First, The mistakes (Lincoln debated Stephen Douglas, not Frederick Douglass) and grammatical errors erode the overall credibility of this bill. It is not becoming of an elected official to create education legislation with such glaring factual and grammatical problems. Second, it is not possible for a "student (to) demonstrate the understanding of, among other concepts, the fundamental moral, political, and intellectual foundations of the American experiment in self-government, as well as the history, qualities, traditions, and features of civic engagement in the United States" without teaching divisive concepts as defined by this bill. Third, the language in this bill is so broad as to be unworkable in a practical application. History and social studies teachers would be rendered unable to teach that US actions in, say, liberating prisoners from concentration camps was good and morally correct. This bill would required that this event be taught as a neutral moment in history and the teacher must "to the best of his ability, strive to explore such issues from diverse and contending perspectives, without giving deference to any one perspective." So, explore that event from a contending perspective? I understand that many would not feel that US involvement in WW2 would be controversial, but I assure you that a substantial segment of our society does interpret historical events such as The Holocaust to be a controversial and contentious issue. Finally, who determines which events and current events are "divisive" and "controversial"? The definitions given in the bill are broad and open to endless interpretation by parents, administrators, politicians, students, and teachers.

Last Name: Titus Locality: Ashland

I oppose both bills HB781 and HB 787.. Censorship is not acceptable!

Last Name: Goldstein Locality: Charlottesville, VA

Dear Legislators: HB 781 and HB 787 do not make sense to me, and they are not sound pedologically. I am concerned that these bills will push teachers to teach things that they know are not true. I do not wish to go backwards in our state. When I was in Junior High, in 1969, our Virginia history textbook said that slaves were well treated and lived good lives. Fortunately, my teacher was a true historian who knew that this was a blatant lie and propaganda. He taught us that this was inaccurate, and he taught us that not everything you read is the truth. He taught us to question. There may have been students in other schools with other teachers who were not taught to question what was in that history book. This is sad and it is wrong. I was happy that by the time my youngest sisters went through school, that book was no longer in use. No country in the world can be proud of everything that has been done in their society. We cannot be scared to teach the ugly parts of our history, or else, we will repeat the mistakes over and over again. Allowing parents to withdraw their children from school and be given funds to educate them elsewhere, because they don’t want their children to hear perspectives different from their own will destroy the public school system and create future leaders who are not well-rounded and well-educated. Good education should open a student’s mind, it should make the student see different perspectives, and it should help them understand how to differentiate between facts and fiction. It is impossible to do this without delving into controversial or divisive subjects. Please do not restrict the many good and dedicated teachers in our commonwealth by legislating how they work. Sincerely, Linda Goldstein Charlottesville, VA

Last Name: Millson-Martula Locality: Madison Heights

Public education should be based on things that are true. Things that happened in the past in the US have been well-documented. Good and bad. Truth is the only honest way of teaching children. Anything else is lying, indoctrination or vile revision of fact. If the truth makes a student uncomfortable then that needs to be addressed. No student currently alive is responsible for slavery. for instance, and no critical race theory would suggest this. Our ancestors did some very bad things and learning about that will teach them that this was and is wrong so that they know that our Country has bad aspects but can yet be what we aspire to in our Constitution and Bill of Rights. Many children are taught the Bible. There are horrible things done there by the ancestors. They are expected to learn not to do these things they learn about. They are expected to learn from those lessons that they are expected to do better and even act to fight against the wrong the biblical ancestors did, not so they’ll feel guilty or responsible for what was done but so they learn not to do those things and learn to right the wrongs they encounter. Both the good and the bad of American history should be taught just as freely as the lessons of the Bible. Don’t teach only half truths or frank deceptions . We all know that doing that is evil just like perverting religious lessons. Uncomfortable is what leads us to be better people. Being uncomfortable means a child has a conscience.! I challenge you to raise a child and never make them uncomfortable. Treating both sides of a moral issue as having value or validity is the height of moral relativism. Are you willing to allow that the killing Jesus has a wrong side and a right side that should be given equal time in education? Some things are, you know in your heart, WRONG. No two equally valid sides about selling, buying people , separating families and killing. No two sides about slaughtering six million including children. No two sides about killing Jesus. Teach what really happened and remember that right and wrong are taught to children or they grow up savage. If you edit history you are making our students and our Country only less moral.

Last Name: Lytle Locality: Richmond

I am opposed to HB781 with all of my heart. Not only is the language ambiguous, it contradicts the true nature of learning, which often brings with it discomfort as we learn new ways of seeing the world. It is a dangerous bill that comes at the expense of our teachers, our children, and our communities. Criminalizing the teaching of concepts that don't agree with the bill sponsor's view of the world sets an extremely dangerous precedent. When I read the bill, the first thing that came to mind was Nazi Germany. The second was the McCarthy era. We do not want to be replicating those inhumane movements in Virginia. I urge you to oppose this bill.

Last Name: Christian e Locality: Richmond

Both HB781 and HB787 are extremely dangerous draconian education repression bills that have no place in our school systems. Who determines what constitutes the teaching of "divisive concepts"? The constant looming threat of criminal charges against our teachers for teaching reality and truth? My mother as a 13 year old school girl, because of unfortunate circumstances, found herself in Nazi Germany in 1941 in a school who's walls were hung with portraits of the Fuhrer. She found these portraits ugly and offensive. In her rebellious naiveté she turned one of them against the wall. The next day the Gestapo were at her home interrogating her parents for the 'divisive' actions of their oldest daughter. How different world events could have been if honest hard truths hadn't been criminalized in that country.

Last Name: Fogarty Locality: Arlington

The connection between this HB 781 and the Governor's tip line is chilling. It feels like we are living in the world of Fahrenheit 451, and Orwell's 1984. Please do not pass this bill.

Last Name: Lovelace Locality: BEDFORD

I urge to you to oppose HB781. This bill is anti-democratic and sets a dangerous precedent in that it outlaws anything and everything that someone may say falls under the vague definition of "divisive." Worse still, it even goes so far as to all for the criminalization of teachers. This bill seeks to stifle free thinking and the realities of history, which harms students, teachers, and communities. What future does our state have if students aren't allowed to develop critical thinking skills due to censored curricula, and teachers are driven from the field by potential criminal charges aimed at silencing facts? As a parent of school-aged children, I urge you to oppose this bill.

Last Name: Emerson Locality: Danville, VA

This bill and Executive Order 2 mention that schools are supposed to teach students how to think, not what to think. However, how can anyone make informed decisions and think critically without having all of the information? Restricting history, barring teachers from discussing current events, all hamstrings education. The bills is very vague as to what constitutes "divisive issues" and it can (and my concern is that it will be) used to complain about every book a teacher presents. What is a novel without conflict? What is a government class without discussing current events? The bill is also a logistical nightmare. The amount of activities, texts, video clips, short readings a class may go through in a year is exhaustive. Many of those materials will be protected by copyright. While they can be used in an educational setting, they may not be available to be posted for the public. Some schools do not even assign teachers their classes until after July 1st. How will teachers alter instruction for student needs? How can they create activities that challenge or remediate their unique classrooms, or pique students' interests, if they must have materials posted by July 1st? Parents do deserve to know what their children are being taught, but they already have access to material. Teachers pass out syllabi at open house, we told parent conference nights. Parents are welcome to come to school board meetings. With most classes now, parents can even observe a Canvas course or join a Google classroom and see all of the materials provided to students. This involves parents in a more natural, and less punitive way. We already have a shortage of teachers. This bill will drive more teachers from the field, and hurt our students. I personally will never support or vote for any representative who votes for this bill.

Last Name: Corcelius Organization: FEA-VEA-NEA Locality: Fairfax County

Greetings legislators, I am calling on you to oppose HB 371. I am strongly against this bill because it will criminalize educators by charging them with a class four misdemeanor. As education professionals, it is our duty to teach the truth when it comes to history. This bill will make it difficult for all educators to do their job— but especially impossible for social studies, history, and civics teachers. We must acknowledge the bad that comes from our history, celebrate the good, and learn from it all. By this bill labeling certain topics in history "divisive" is a way to ignore the impacts of white supremacy and patriarchy in our society. This bill is an attempt at legitimizing revisionist history and the effects will be disastrous. The reality is that there is systemic and institutionalized oppression in this country. It is our job as educators to expose and illuminate. We put faith in our children and students to create a better future. By lying or omitting, we are harming our children and robbing them of that opportunity. Trust in education professionals to do their job, which is to plan lessons and teach. Asking us to submit all lesson plans and topics by July 1st is outrageous. This is another effort to de-skill, deprofessionalize, and dehumanize us. Show educators respect for their craft and respect to our students. Bills like this signal that our society is dangerously close to descending down a path towards fascism when we should be pushing for equity and progress. Oppose HB 371 and any bill that attempts to outlaw telling the truth about our country's past. Thank you for taking the time to read this comment for consideration.

Last Name: Gerber Organization: none Locality: Lynchburg

I am deeply concerned about the absence of clear reasoning and to put it mildly, the potential negative impact of Delegate Wren Williams proposed Bill 781. Clearly, this is part of a broader effort to "erase" the very mention of equity and criminalize acknowledgment of the concept. In the body of Williams' proposed HB 781, is 22.1-208.03, B3, as follows: B. The Board shall, in furtherance of the citizens skills portion of the 5 C's in the Profile of a Virginia Graduate, incorporate into each relevant Standard of Learning and associated curriculum framework a requirement that each student demonstrate the understanding of: The founding documents of the United States, including the Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution, the Federalist Papers, including Essays 10 and 51, excerpts from Alexis de Tocqueville's Democracy in America, the first debate between Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, and the writings of the Founding Fathers of the United States. My intention is not to address the egregious and much discussed Frederick Douglass error. In reality, in order to fathom both equity and equality issues, an understanding of the root causes of outcome disparities within our society cannot be omitted, or worse as suggested by proposed HB 781, actually criminalized. Yet in Bill 781, listed among divisive concepts is A(ix) the ideology of equity of outcomes is superior to the ideology of equality, a concept enshrined in the Constitution of the United States, of opportunities. Pulling these bits of the pre-filing, together, HB 781 is a bill that criminalizes simple truth. The documents referenced and enshrined with a particular version of "equality," literally seek to criminalize recognition of the clear facts that black slaves were treated as little more than livestock. It goes even further; it seeks to ignore the fact that the ancestors of members of our black community were human beings. I sincerely hope that you will oppose this bill as a proposed legislative aberration that criminalizes simple facts.

Last Name: Grene Locality: Montgomery

HB781. This bill injects the extremism of the moment into public education, and betrays a woeful ignorance of what actually happens in a classroom. History teachers want their charges to understand our past, and that past is not pretty. Recently, scholars working with VDOE have put in place a history curriculum that reflects that goal. This effort is to be applauded, instead, HB781 proposes to punish teachers who present the history of all the peoples whose home continues to be our Commonwealth. I do hope that HB781 will not stand up in court, but, in the meantime, on behalf of teachers everywhere, I am frightened by the Big Brother-like language and intent of the bill.

Last Name: Heilmann Locality: RICHMOND

How many teachers in Virginia were consulted on House Bill 781? If so, was it a diverse group of teachers that were asked for their feedback regarding House Bill 781? I've posted this bill on social media to hear what my fellow teachers had to say. Here is a small sample of the comments I've collected. LISTEN OUR VOICES! "There’s a lot to unpack but the first thing that popped out at me was the notion that we cannot discuss how the United States is not fundamentally racist or sexist, even though at its actual foundation (i.e. “fundamentally”) – Black people were not considered human beings...and women couldn’t vote. The U.S. broke every treaty with the First Peoples...and is the only nation to deploy a nuclear weapon against civilians - who happened to be Asian." -Richmond Public School Teacher "I am honest and loyal to the profession. I will teach History. Nothing more or less. If that causes me to get fired, so be it." -Isle of Wight County Public School Teacher "How will we teach debate, argumentative writing at higher levels with no current events." -Loudon County Public School Teacher "We exist in a world entirely separate from whoever wrote up this bill." -Fairfax County Public School Teacher "I’m trying to be hopeful that no one with any sense would think even 25% of this is productive or feasible. This seems to be a design to cause the failure of public education in VA." -Goochland County Public School Teacher "The disconnect between this document and the reality of teaching is UNREAL" Virtual Virginia Teacher "I am lucky to have all my materials ready the day before I teach. Now, they want everything in July?... I am seriously considering a career change." - Portsmouth Public School Teacher "Bills like this can threaten public school funding as they've not been able to do before." -Chesterfield County Public School Teacher "This is insane!!! This is the end of public education in VA." -Gloucester County Public School Teacher "This is going to drive more folks away from the arms of the profession; especially teachers who are lgbtqia or BIPOC. No one wants to live life looking over their shoulder, knowing that any one wrong move or word could be misinterpreted, blown up and used against them. No one wants to live in fear of losing their job. No one wants go live under a microscope. No one wants to do that just to be treated like garbage, called evil selfish communists, overwork themselves into oblivion and paid 40k to do so. I don’t. It’s why I left." - Former Virginia Public School Teacher The reason I continue to be a public school teacher is believing the next generation will be kinder and more accepting. Teacher's have been integrating social-emotional instruction for decades, I've seen so many steps taken in order to learn about a diversity around us, we have been creating inclusive and equitable lesson for years, we have been analyzing the truths about what happened in our past, discussing how we can keep mistakes from our past from happening again. This bill threatens to destroy the entire public school system in Virginia. We can not let our laws cater to the few and ignore the masses. School vouchers and for profit charter schools will segregate our school systems even more and we will be come a divided Virginia. If this bill is passed I will resign, and I am a good teacher, I have many state required mandates that prove it. Virginia does not want to lose me. FUND OUR SCHOOLS!

Last Name: Waering Locality: Roanoke

As a lawyer, I believe HB781 to be so vague in its definitions and prohibitions as to be unconstitutional as it stands and will certainly be unconstitutional as applied. This Bill is censorship, pure and simple. The great Commonwealth of Virginia does not stoop to censorship. Critical Race Theory was never taught in K-12. Teaching the whole of Virginia history and United States history is required to have well educated students to enter the work force and higher education. Please do not handicap our educators with this Bill. It is sure to be legally challenged and will cost the Commonwealth precious dollars to defend it in the courts.

Last Name: Thorne Organization: Richmond Public Schools Locality: Colonial Heights

The language of the bill is ambiguous at best. First, I have never heard of a teacher teaching students to look down on or consider anyone racist. Then, the statements that are slid into the bill are insulting to the profession at best. As an underpaid and over worked public servant, I am appalled to think that the delegates would like to criminalize teaching the truth about history. I am a Caucasian and I understand that as a nation we must do better, but this bill would take us backward NOT forwards. And to criminalize teaching mathematics? Our state is so far behind, and I feel it is silly to even put that in there. "meritocracy, punctuality, proper language usage, free markets, and traits such as strong work ethic are racist or sexist or were created by members of a particular race to oppress members of another race" is absurd. I am sorry but I teach my students that work ethic and other good habits are just good practice. Please just stop.

Last Name: Ehrlich Organization: Fairfax Education Association Locality: Fairfax County

I am strongly opposed to this bill. First off, the term "divisive" is subjective and can be interpreted in many different ways. This bill allows for teaching revisionist history rather than real history as it happened. Real, true, factual history should be taught in all schools. There is also the point of perspective - some things in history do not have multiple perspectives. For example, the Holocaust was violent and wrong - there is no other perspective unless we are teaching that eugenics and genocide can be considered okay. Racism and segregation are wrong, and we should not be teaching anything otherwise to our students. We should all be anti-racist educators and teach real history. The only way to avoid repeating the negatives in our history is to know about what happened and actively work to be different. Vote no on HB781.

Last Name: Coleman-Millner Organization: Parent of a student in Virginia Locality: Chester

This bill threatens the core of excellent teaching. How do you develop the next generation of thinkers, scientists, legislators? Educations should be Rigorous, Relatable, and Relevant. People are able to better understand curriculum when it relates to something they experience or they are aware of. An earthquake with a magnitude of 5.8 hit Louisa county in 2011. That is a teachable moment for a Louisa County Earth Science teacher. Now children understand the significance of the 5.8. It is more than just a number. You would not be able to discuss the history that just occurred in Virginia with the first black female Lt. Governor. These experiences create an opportunity to have enriched conversations with children. Do we want to create miniature versions of ourselves, or should we create children that think for themselves? Give them the information, allow them the space to discuss it with their peers, and learn how to agree/disagree amicably. This bill destroys the essence of education for a conservative agenda. Legislators should legislate and teachers should teach. We all have a purpose, fulfill it.

Last Name: Gulley Locality: Virginia Beach

I worry for the future of our teacher if they must continue to not just tirelessly document their lesson plans, but now be required to document publicly all of their materials on a school website. It seems purposeful that this measure is made so that more students are driven towards private schools- and using public money to fund it. Field trips cannot be booked almost a year in advance. All films and materials cannot be accounted for when teachers are constantly, even on their off time and unpaid, looking for more materials to help with instruction that would further explain a difficult concept in a way students may understand. There is already a nursing shortage. Teachers are already underpaid. And now the House is expecting teachers who just ended a school year in May or June to be able to plan the entire next year, with changing curriculum requirements from the local school boards, by July. It is an impossible task and the House should be ashamed of entertaining a measure that would purposefully drive both teachers and students from the public school system to charter schools- without regard to economic status or locality. This is another attempt at bowing to the demands of ever increasingly loud population that does not want their child exposed to materials that the parents do not understand and thus claim to be harmful. And frankly, it is a very thinly veiled attempted to placate those masses and use education as a grooming tool, not a way to set a foundation for curiosity and encourage being a responsible citizen. If this were to pass, I would be ashamed of my state and it would only serve to further my decision not to bring a child into this world where we demand so much from the educators but give them very little in return.

Last Name: Enos Locality: Spotsylvania

Anyone with critical thinking skills can see what this bill is actually supporting: 1. Revisionist history - whether we want to believe it or not, there is truth and fact in the study of history, and it is not always pretty. We cannot possibly learn from historical mistakes if we stick our heads in the sand and block our ears to those truths. I will not be party to cherry picking history to benefit those sitting at home who are scared of it. We teach students to learn from their own mistakes AND the mistakes of others so they are not repeated. Why would this be any different? 2. Blocking students and educators from seeking equity and fairness in schools - the only reason anyone would desire to block this is if they perceive that they stand to lose something by allowing another to pursue their own equity. We see right through this. ALL of our students should be considered when we are designing and delivering instruction and asking them to trust us with their futures. It is time - past time. 3. Devaluing professional educators - asking educators to provide a public record of every single resource they use and activity they do in a classroom only demonstrates that the author of this bill knows absolutely nothing about how education in a classroom works. If parents seek such full control of their children's education, they can homeschool them and then they will have their wish; but do not destroy the practice of teaching by making it so wholly unreasonable and impracticable that there will be none left willing to teach. By doing so, you are creating an environment that assumes an obscene lack of trust and setting a reckless and unwarranted precedent for schools and the communities they serve. 4. Dismantling public education - obviously this entire bill is a vehicle for what the author of this bill really wants - using public money for private vouchers. I hope people can think this through to its logical conclusion and realize that dismantling public education is a massive step backward for our society. Further, incentivizing parents by essentially offering bounties for every educator or school that "violates" any of these clauses is inviting untruths and opportunists into the equation. This is verging on criminal. This bill is dangerous, unwarranted, scheming, and is itself divisive in its intent. The author of the bill and any in support of it will be forever on the wrong side of history.

Last Name: Knox Locality: Richmond, VA

I am strongly opposed to this bill, and I will work hard (and donate generously) to defeat any VA elected official who supports it. Full. Stop.

Last Name: Wray Locality: Alexandria

I oppose the passage of HB 781 on so many levels. 1. The term "divisive" can be interpreted in many different ways. HB 781 has not been clearly defined. It is divisive to many educators to purposely hide the truth of history as not to offend individuals uneasy about what primary sources reveal. 2. HB 781 has threatening language about the correlation between the curriculum and being prosecuted with a misdemeanor. 3. In a pandemic, when educators are working the hardest they ever have worked while giving their hearts and souls to the noble calling, and having teachers leave the profession in record numbers , do we wish to exacerbate this most difficult time with scare tactics of "misdemeanors"? 4. When public schools need continual funding, why would the General Assembly put forth a proposed bill draining schools in favor of vouchers for charter or private schools? Public schools are the heartbeat of education. 5. It is confusing why this proposed bill would prohibit the designation of an equity officer and why social emotional learning is even in question. 6. Why would examples of curriculum to be taught mention Lincoln and "Frederick" Douglas Debates when it wasn't even Frederick Douglas who debated Lincoln? It's important to know history, the good which makes us feel waves of patriotism in our gut and the unattractive which tries our very souls as we search for understanding. Thank you for your time. Please invest in our public schools. Our children's futures depend on it.

Last Name: Seeley Locality: Culpeper

I respectfully ask that the Delegates think critically about what the passage of this bill would mean for teachers in Virginia public schools. Teachers have been asked to shoulder a heavy burden over the past two years. While all of us carry on because of our love for our students, many of us have reached our breaking point. This bill would unnecessarily add extra stress. Vague wording will leave teachers fearful of teaching any subject lest it cause a student to feel discomfort. A religious student may believe that science class is divisive. A student with German ancestry may feel offended when learning about WWII. Should this bill pass, the added stress will cause an already insufficient teacher workforce to resign en masse. Teachers are educated and certified professionals. They should be trusted, along with administrators and local school boards, to choose appropriate curriculum materials. This bill would undermine the expertise of those in the field, instead granting control to the whims each political cycle. Each parent should not be allowed to pick and choose what version of "reality" is taught in schools. It robs our students of truth, perspective, and experience. Most alarming in this bill is the provision that all curriculum materials be made available to parents by July 1. Perhaps I plan to read a novel, but discover that my class needs books at a lower reading level than I expected. Maybe the students in my history class are fascinated by ancient Egypt and want to learn more than the standards dictate. I might attend a professional development conference and learn about a great new resource that would be perfect for my class. All of these scenarios become impossible when you require teachers to fully plan a year in advance for a group of students they have not met. Finally, our students have been through a lot over the past two years; the stress and fear due to the global pandemic, as well as disruptions to their education, from which it will take years to recover. Rather than focusing on filling those real needs, this bill cheapens our children's education. It seeks to do away with Social Emotional Learning programs at a time when we are seeing more mental health issues than ever before. This bill proposes impractical and harmful solutions to a problem that does not exist.

Last Name: Wilson Organization: CPUSA Locality: Woodbridge

This bill makes teaching history, FACTS, a crime. I and many other strongly oppose this bill. It is ridiculous to expect someone to teach any subject without making someone "uncomfortable" at some point. What an intentionally vague description, and a biased bill. Let our kids learn the truth, let our kids learn history!

Last Name: Wilson Locality: Richmond

I oppose this bill. Teaching the truth shouldn’t be a crime. This is about facts not feelings.

Last Name: Davidson Locality: Richmond

In a time when we need to be working hard to retain teachers, someone decided to do things to further alienate them. This is a clear move to push more teachers away from public schools and increase support for charter schools, and I do not support this. Anyone who has done their research into charter schools wouldn’t either.

Last Name: Sones Locality: Richmond

I oppose this bill. It is the rooted in revisionist racism. It undermines every profesional that works in education. Ii is desigend to criminalize teaching the truth and to defund public schools. It is antithetical to actual citizenry. Shame on Delegate Williams. Shame on anyone who supports this bill.

Last Name: Newman Locality: PALMYRA

I am a high school teacher of more than 20 years experience. After reading this bill, I started looking for other jobs. How can I possibly teach history without ever making any student feel discomfort? If I assign government students the task of reading and analyzing the Congression Research Service Report on the Membership of the 117th Congress , will I be violating the law? Can I teach civil liberties and civil rights at all? If I assign sociology students the task of analyzing historic census documents to determine how the United States has changed its view of race/ethnicity over time, will I be breaking the law? If I assign world history students a reading about the 4th Crusade when Christians killed Christians, will I be breaking the law? Will I be found guilty of a Class 4 misdemeanor and lose my job? Will a parent who wants the voucher money scrutinize my teaching for evidence of discomfort? One last question . . . Do you want me to keep teaching?


HB127 - The reforms to the admissions policies at TJ increase the equity of the process. These reforms should be kept in place for this reason. This bill would adversely influence equity at many schools, not just TJ. HB4 - In all cases in which disciplinary measures can be taken by the school personnel, I believe they should be handled by school personnel, including teachers, guidance counselors, and psychologists. These are our children. They are not criminals. The role of police in schools should be as minimal as possible. HB781 - Children should be taught the facts of history, including the history of the US, as accurately as possible, whether it shows that history in a favorable or unfavorable light. One of the most important thing of all that we can teach our children is to always seek the truth. HB9 - This bill would limit our ability to recruit and retain teachers exactly when there is an increasing need to do so. There is very little difference in what one can ascertain about someone's performance between 3 and 5 years. It would make more sense to provide regular status reviews throughout a teacher's entire tenure which are tied to salary and other benefits.

Last Name: Bensinger-Lacy Locality: Burke

HB127. I oppose rolling back the current admission policies for TJ and potentially other governor’s schools because we must be allowed to find ways to give opportunities available only in those schools to Black, Hispanic and lower SES students. They may need extra support to be successful but that’s a solid investment for our society. HB4. This bill moves our treatment of students in the absolute wrong direction. We must be finding ways NOT to involve young people in the criminal justice system for actions that should be handled within the school. HB781. All students MUST know ALL of history from all stakeholders’ points of view, especially US history—much of which chronicles situations that were divisive. We cannot learn from history if we don’t know what happened.

Last Name: Waters Locality: Albemarle

I am a public school teacher in Charlottesville, Va and oppose HB781. Section F of the bill states that if parents request to review “all curricula, instructional materials, lessons, and other forms of instruction provided to [their children],” that the request must be responded to within 48 hours by the educator.Though educators would love to have every detail of each lesson plan completed 48 hours prior to teaching the lesson, this is not always realistic, as we are often required to give up our planning periods to cover classes, attend IEP, 504, and PLC meetings, etc.At what point will educators’ contract hours be honored? If a parent requests lesson plans on a Friday afternoon, is the teacher expected to respond on Sunday, a day he or she is not paid or contracted to work? Section G states “Each public school shall annually, no later than the July 1 preceding the upcoming school year, prominently list on a publicly accessible portion of its website, “All instructional materials and activities,”etc. Preparation of curricula and materials should only be expected to be executed by educators during contract dates and hours. Most teacher contracts begin in August and end in June. When are lawmakers proposing this preparation and distribution be completed to meet a July 1st deadline? Even if teachers were compensated for the preparation of materials listed above before July 1st, their efforts would be futile. Proper education requires feedback from student achievement data to be effective.Teachers need the flexibility to change lessons and activities to best suit the needs of the students in their classrooms. Teachers are not aware by July 1st of which students will enter their classrooms with IEPs, 504s, diverse needs, trauma, or any number of circumstances that will require that teacher to modify or adapt their curriculum and instruction. These changes to teaching material are mandated by Section 504 of the federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973. According to Section H of HB781, educators can be convicted of a Class 4 misdemeanor, terminated, and/or have their teaching license revoked for adhering to this federal law. Even students without any special needs learn at different paces and require differentiated teaching strategies to achieve to the best of their ability. These strategies cannot be planned in advance if educators must base the activities and work given to their students on what the student already knows (or doesn’t know) and how they learn best. Parents already have access to every Virginia Standard of Learning that educators are required to teach via the Virginia Department of Education website and can exercise influence over what is taught by electing School Board members they support. They also already have access. Paying taxes does not entitle a parent to a customized curriculum for their child in the public school system. It does, however, provide them access to a system of highly qualified professionals (not just teachers, but Professional Learning Communities, administrators, central office staff, and the Virginia Department of Education staff) who have built curricula and instruction through peer-viewed processes and hundreds, if not thousands of years of combined experience and research in education.Please trust us to do our jobs without confining us to deadlines that are not realistic, practical, or beneficial to students.

Last Name: Fogarty Locality: Arlington

When I talk to my colleagues in various social justice groups about my opposition to this bill, I try to give the bill a name, in addition to the number, so that it may be easier to remember what is in the bill. My first thought is to call it The Defund Public Schools Bill, based on Section I. But then I figure it might be better to call it the Burden Our Teachers and Administrators Bill, based on Section G, as it creates an unfunded mandate (as to money and time) of extraordinary efforts to create a website and post "all instructional materials and activities" for the next school year. But then I decided on The Scare Teachers Bill, based on Section E(2), which states no teacher may teach or incorporate any divisive concept (which is perhaps the most vague legal term since....well, maybe it is the most vague ever). Add Section H into the mix, and you get the greatest scare tactic ever --- you can be prosecuted for a crime, lose your job, and lose your license to teach. Who is going to try to even figure out what "divisive concept" even means? Maybe the bill should be called The Teacher Resignation Bill, as you will be losing lots of terrific teachers if this bill were to pass.

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