Public Comments for: HB787 - Public elementary or secondary school student; moral and character education, etc.
Last Name: Fatzinger Locality: Chesterfield

I strongly oppose this bill. It is censorship about what can or cannot be said. Conservatives talk about wanting kids to be 'taught how to think /critical thinking,' not taught 'what to think.' This bill pretty much tells them and teachers what they must think. Part of critical thinking involves gathering multiple viewpoints and observations. This bill completely obliviates some viewpoints. Where is the critical thinking in that?

Last Name: Parker Locality: Glen Allen

I strongly oppose HB787. It is censorship, pure and simple, controlling what one can and cannot say. Should this bill pass, I look forward to additions to the standards of learning (SOLs) such as adding to VUS.7: "understanding the Civil War was fought to keep systems of white superiority and slavery in place and that this was wrong." Or adding a new standard between VUS.4 and VUS.5 such as "The student will apply social science skills to understand that the US is not fundamentally racist or sexist by examining how the nation's founding documents only promoted equality for white men and how such documents could have been improved. Students will analyze the practice of coverture (i.e., women being regarded as men's property) with its roots in English law that the colonists continued in the new nation and analyze the fears that white men had of being outnumbered by slaves of color if they were counted as part of the population." Should this bill pass, I look forward to knowing that teachers will stand at the front of their classrooms and say "Boys are not better than girls" and "White people are not better than people of color" and "we can do better than looking down on one race or sex and instead treat everyone with dignity and respect."

Last Name: Irving Locality: Midlothian

The censorship and clamping down on academic freedoms through HB787 is chilling: The bill fails to outline what a "divisive" concept is and could easily be misconstrued dependent upon the biases of those accusing said teacher. It is right up there with book burning and the type of law that, frankly, Adolph Hitler would be proud of. Furthering any war on teachers, especially given how underpaid and embattled they are, is not a solution. Ensuring that students receive a fair and balanced education should be a greater concern, especially at this moment in time.

Last Name: Reidenbach Locality: Virginia Beach

I am writing to this legislative body, the oldest in the Western Hemisphere to express my disdain for HB787. Funny, the place I learned that fact is the very place you are trying to ruin, the classroom. As an Historian & Educator, I cannot think of anything worse than a government stifling the learning of the future. HB787 is a bill that would punish teachers & educators for discussing anything the powers that be deem "divisive". Simply put, it is classroom censorship. My question to the makers of this bill, what do you consider divisive? Although this legislation is presented otherwise, this law has nothing to do with helping young people better understand history & current events. Today, more than ever, children turn to their teachers to help them make sense of a worldwide pandemic & systemic racism; a law like this is specifically designed to silence these conversations. What does that accomplish? This bill is geared to uphold comfort & feelings over facts. It also furthers diminishes the voices & histories of the children of color who are also students here in Virginia. These students, their humanity & their histories matter. It is important that all students, regardless of race, learn all aspects of our history, especially the parts we may not like. How can you expect students to develop essential skills such as critical thinking, perspective & compassion when they aren't taught all parts of history, even the uncomfortable aspects? So much of how we are as a society today has roots in our history, our nation cannot thrive and grow if we are not educated on our past. History is not always meant to make people feel good, it is sometimes sad, scary & traumatizing. With education comes understanding, with understanding comes acceptance & progress. Students deserve a well-rounded, solid education that helps them develop into productive citizens, engaged in the government process & advocates for positive change in our country. The place this all starts is in the classroom. This bill, along with the idea that exempting historical facts from the classroom for the sake of feelings must fail. This state, especially the children who live here, deserve better.

Last Name: Langridge Locality: Louisa

I strongly oppose this.

Last Name: Ball Locality: Ashland

I am incredibly confused by the HB787 banning the teaching of "inherently divisive concepts" as these concepts are not being taught in our schools. We do not tell students what to think and assuredly would never tell them how to feel. Certainly, it’s important to teach, discuss and analyze history. Exploring our past allows us to model good citizenship, learn from the mistakes of others, and understand the changes that have taken place in our society over time. There are some topics in history that bring up thoughts and feelings that may be difficult to process, but giving students the space to do this is how we help them grow. In schools, we are teaching human beings, and human beings have feelings that aren’t always comfortable. That’s normal, it’s not divisive. It is within our feelings of discomfort that we grow. Additionally, who is going to decide what is divisive? It’s incredibly subjective. Facts however are not subjective. It is a fact that in the past and even within our present, there are people who believe(d) that one race, gender, sex, and/or faith is better than another. It is a fact that people have and are discriminated against based on their race, gender, sex, and/or faith. If we’re teaching history, these facts will arise from the Spanish Inquisition to women’s suffrage, to the end of slavery. We will not and cannot tell a student how to think or feel about these concepts, so again, I’m incredibly confused by this bill. Will we be able to teach about the great leader Martin Luther King, Jr,? Will school boards be allowed to pray at the start of their meetings? Will teachers' dress be restricted from perhaps wearing a cross, or a “girls rule” shirt? Will we continue to celebrate holidays linked to Christianity in schools if we aren’t also celebrating those linked to Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, or Buddhism? This bill is divisive, and set up to be so, perhaps we should just ban it? Please oppose HB 787.

Last Name: Mount Locality: Richmond

I am writing to oppose this legislation that will censor education and ultimately put our state at a disadvantage. Children should learn history as it happened and we should not try to shy away from the ugly truths of our society just because it makes some parents uncomfortable. If black children were able to endure and survive slavery, segregation, Jim Crow, the civil rights movement, and a system that inherently puts people of color at a disadvantage, frankly, white children can endure and survive learning about it. Laws like this getting introduced in other states are not only leading to censorship in the classroom, but making it possible for parents to sue teachers for teaching something that goes against their religion. Virginia can not tolerate this blatant corruption of our education system.

Last Name: Trapnell Locality: Charlottesville

HB787 is a disgusting attempt to censor educators — how DARE you all mask your fear and bigotry behind this weak rallying cry of banning “divisive concepts.” Refusing to let educators teach real American history is ignorant and racist, and you are setting a generation of children up for failure. In a time where there is already a teacher shortage you all are putting nails in the coffin. Republicans, if you want to coddle your children and create individuals without compassion or open mindedness, do so in the privacy of your own homes. Censorship and hatred have no place in education. We see you.

Last Name: Pan Locality: Herndon

Virginia Public Schools are among the best in the nation. This bill would seriously degrade the quality of our public school education. How are students supposed to emerge from our schools as knowledgeable critical thinkers if they are denied exposure to and the opportunity to think about and consider important history and literature? And how can we expect to keep our amazing teachers, who are already underpaid and struggling to teach under impossible conditions if we further erode trust in their profession and put them under punitive scrutiny for doing their jobs? This bill seems a great way to break our Virginia Public Schools. I sincerely hope that Virginia does not go the way of Kansas, which saw its public school system sink from top 10 in the nation to the bottom in just a few years because of politically motivated policy decisions.

Last Name: Wells Locality: North Chesterfield

This proposed law is vague and will easily be used to suppress teaching history around race in Virginia. No teacher is teaching that one race is superior to another or that one race must pay for the actions of the past. What we learn from our history is about how race was viewed then and how that impacted generations of people and policy. To try and ban this, only furthers the notion that republican led measures to rewrite history or ignore the truth of our history so the systemic racism that prevails today. Education should be open and honest for the students to learn and from that shape their perspectives. I would ask why do these topics make people uncomfortable. Our history is uncomfortable and as such there should not be any law to suppress its teachings which is exactly what this level will do. Under these rules, how will you be able to talk about civil rights or equality issues that persisted for generations? I urge lawmakers to vote no on this bill and allow our history and education to be taught free of suppression.

Last Name: Girard Locality: Alexandria

As a public school teacher, I oppose HB787. Our students deserve a well rounded education with multiple tellings of historical events. This sometimes includes teaching “divisive topics” and teachers know what their students are capable of understanding. Teachers should be trusted to do their jobs.

Last Name: Watkins Locality: Reston

To Whom It May Concern, Thank you for the opportunity to comment on HB 1034. As a public high school school teacher and parent of two young children (ages 5 and 2) in Virginia, I have serious concerns that this bill will wind up doing more harm than good for the children of our state. I have worked in two different public school systems in Virginia over 13 years, and I have seen first hand how beneficial counseling services can be to a wide variety of students. If parents are allowed to prohibit their students from accessing counseling services in the school, these students may be cut off from not only critical mental health support, but but also the academic, career, and community support that school counselors and mental health team members provide. All members of a school mental health team must undergo rigorous education before obtaining their licenses, and as such they should be trusted as the professionals they are to provide only services that they deem necessary for students well-being. I strongly urge you to let the trained mental health professionals do their jobs. Don't make students get tied in the mire of adult squibbles. Thank you, Sara Watkins Mother Teacher Concerned Virginia Citizen

Last Name: Watkins Locality: Reston

To Whom It May Concern, Thank you for the opportunity to comment on HB HB1032. As a public high school school teacher and parent of two young children (ages 5 and 2) in Virginia, I have serious concerns that this bill will wind up doing more harm than good for the children of our state. As VA Senator Peterson said on January 27 of this year, regarding a similar bill, "I don't think we should be involved in micromanaging school libraries...The problem is that you’re going to sweep up books that you don’t intend to sweep up" (Matthew Barakat, abcnews.go.com). I strongly urge you to leave the books in the libraries for the kids. They deserve to have the opportunity to decide with their own parents and personal support systems what books to read. Thank you, Sara Watkins Mother Teacher Concerned Virginia Citizen

Last Name: Wade Locality: Leonardtown

I am against bill 787 the censorship of education will not benefit students, neither will a tip line for the enforcement of censorship.

Last Name: Backherms Locality: Richmond

I urge all members of the House of Delegates to vote NO on HB787. I am the proud child of a lifelong educator and have a deep understanding of what happens in classrooms. I have been an employee of the state of Virginia working as both an educator for the Science Museum of Virginia and as part of the Communications Team for the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. I have a deep respect for educators of all type, particularly those who dedicate themselves to teaching younger age groups like those served by elementary and middle schools. Educators do not use their role maliciously. They do not indoctrinate or brainwash. They do not shape their curriculum to be “divisive.” Educators dedicate themselves to helping young people establish foundational skills which will carry them through the rest of their lives. Educators teach math. They teach children how to read and write, about the history of the United States and certainly about the history of our Commonwealth. Educators do not, as individuals, dictate what happens in their classrooms. Every member of the House of Delegated understands that your legislative body and numerous other policy setting groups dictate the academic goals of students for in the Commonwealth. This idea of banning “divisive concepts” is not a substantive contribution to the legislative dictates offered to schools. I believe that if this bill passes: - Parents of all backgrounds and political viewpoints will feel empowered to constantly torment and report their children’s educators for arbitrary reasons - Existing educators will continue to feel that their profession is being disrespected and undermined amid an already challenging time. More and more educators will leave the field. - Less people will choose to become educators. - Rather than receiving age and grade level appropriate instruction, students will likely become the recipients of increasingly watered down lessons which simply omit portions of history I believe strongly that our state and the localities within it already have robust systems by which teachers and their curriculums are appropriately supervised. Parents already have numerous ways of communicating concern regarding instructional content. There is no need to create a category of “divisive concepts.” Glenn Youngkin has set out to unite the citizens of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Labeling educators as “divisive” does exactly the opposite of the Governor’s intentions. VOTE NO ON HB787

Last Name: Hagemeier Organization: Na Locality: Alexandria

My name is Christina Hagemeier. I have been an art therapist and educator with Fairfax county public schools for the past five years. I disagree with the foundations of HB787 and am writing to ask that it not be put into law. To censor what we teach in schools is wrong. Creative, thoughtful, collaborative, caring citizens are formed through discourse and discussion, especially in the face of uncomfortable and divisive concepts and dialogues. By creating a law that requires teachers to censor what they are teaching, we not only would make them fearful to do their job, but also diminish the power of education. This bill and it’s ramifications would take away from our students their right to make decisions for themselves and create their own paths and futures. This bill is a detriment to us all and it should not be passed. Thank you for your time. Christina Hagemeier, LPC, ATR-BC, MA Art therapist and art teacher

Last Name: Wilson Locality: Henrico

What qualifies as "divisive?" The language used is subjective, and with things like the hotline and this bill, you created a culture of distrust in education and teachers. There's already a shortage in teachers. Do you believe that demeaning their intelligence and creating an environment of distrust will bring in more teachers or even retain the ones that we currently have?

Last Name: Clark Locality: Henrico, Glen Allen

I am firmly against Hb787. "Divisive Concepts" have not been specifically identified by the creators of the bill. This bill may also harm retaining and hiring of teachers who will have no idea if they are teaching what leaders consider but have not clearly defined as a "divisive concept." It also appears to be censorship and could be used to alter a true representation of history or any topic. Lastly, if a parent has an issue with a topic and how it is covered in the classroom, there is already a plan that works to create change. The parent can discuss the issue with the teacher, the principal and then the school board. If they don't get the results they want, they can reelect a new school board member. PLEASE DO NOT VOTE FOR THIS BILL- we can't have any more reasons for teachers to quit. They have been through enough without having to worry that the state government is looking over their shoulder.

Last Name: Rodriguez Locality: Glen Allen

I strongly opposed HB787!! I can't believe that someone would take the time to write a bill that would punish teachers. After all teacher have been through, particularly during the pandemic. All these types of bills do it to drive away good teachers. You should be ashamed of yourself!! Who decides what a divisive comment is?? Please leave teachers alone and let them do their job: to educate our children. Again, I strongly oppose HB787.

Last Name: Wilson Locality: Chesapeake

I am very saddened that the Government is only interested in telling one side of the truth. History classes are able to lecture about various wars and other topics that can be considered divisive. It’s important that the truth be taught so that all children can know the facts about how this country originated not just those that a certain group wants children to hear about. This bill alone is divisive in nature and ensures only the parts of history one group is comfortable with is told.

Last Name: Whitlock Locality: Fairfax

As a public school teacher, I am saddened by the fact that teachers are not being trusted. We are trained professionals with strong relationships to our students and the communities in which we live and work. This bill deminishes the role of a teacher- why not trust them to have conversations with students at an age appropriate level? We follow the SOL standards and our county standards; we teach the curriculum, and now the curriculum is being censored with this bill. This censorship of ideas and exposure to whatever "devisive" content is at the detriment of students who can form their own opinions and ideas when they fave difficult, age appropriate topics. What goes next? You will lose more teachers.

Last Name: Brewer Locality: Abingdon

This is censorship, plain and simple. Please, for the sale of our both our educators and our students, do not pass this bill.

Last Name: Grossman Organization: Chesterfield County Public Schools Locality: Richmond

Muzzling teachers is a bad idea for so many reasons I don't even know where to begin. I find it terrifying that in THIS COUNTRY, in this century, it is necessary to have to point that out to you. Also, it won't work. Just so you know. It will only galvanize teachers to redouble their efforts to teach TRUTH! So unless you plan on having "minders" a la North Korea and China in every classroom, you are doomed to fail. You will simply be pulling out one more piece of the fragile Jenga structure that public schools have become.

Last Name: Seyba Locality: Yorktown

Please vote NO on this bill. It would do nothing , but punish teachers. I’ve watched serval meetings and haven’t heard of an example of this happening in VA or a definite definition of divisive. Please let teachers teach true history.

Last Name: Toney Locality: Hardy

This is horrifying and I promise you we have much bigger concerns to worry about in our schools. This is censorship and government’s who censor or white wash their education system historically end up as the bad guys. Let’s start treating teachers with the respect of other graduate level professionals or there won’t be any teachers left.

Last Name: Turner Locality: Midlothian

I am writing in opposition to HB 787. “Divisive “ Instruction is totally subjective in nature. I worked in Chesterfield Co Schools for 30 years. You never know where a discussion on an important historical event might go. This is why teachers are trained to stick to the facts and curriculum. In todays politically charged environment the smallest comment could be misconstrued. We barely have enough trained teachers in public schools as it is - are we now trying to have all the experienced teachers leave the profession? I rarely had a parent dissatisfied after a parent and teacher met to discuss something the teacher had questions about. Often ( not on purpose) a student will take a remark out of context. Misunderstandings are best handled in the school. In person. This bill should not only not be voted on, there is no real reason for it except politics and sensationalism. Martha Turner - former school counselor CCPS

Last Name: Hughes Locality: Alexandria

I am deeply opposed to HB 787 which seeks to ban "divisive concepts" in public schools was allowed to move forward. Our role as parents, teachers, representatives etc is to teach our children, even if it is uncomfortable. If we wish to avoid the mistakes and injustices of the past, we must acknowledge, study, and discuss those mistakes. This ban will contribute to the rearing ignorant fragile children in a time when our state and country needs strong educated leaders.

Last Name: Sommers Locality: APO

I’m a Virginia voter and parent, and I do NOT support the passage of HB787. Our children and schools are not political pawns. Let professional educators do the jobs they’ve been trained and hired to do. Please.

Last Name: Hoare Locality: Schuyler

The intention of this bill seems to be arbitrary censorship and intimidation of teachers for discussing any subject deemed to be controversial. This is the very antithesis of education and it is no surprise that a very large number of excellent Virginia teachers are planning to leave the profession. The promotion of ignorance should not be considered or tolerated.

Last Name: Jordon Organization: na Locality: Fairfax County

I am legitamately opposed to this bill. It would harken back to "1984", the book. Government does not have the right to take away private rights and education. To have an intelligent populus is the design of schools and teaching NOT to create people who wonder around like sheep doing only what they are told to do, who have no rights to learn and survive. I bet that you do not pass this bill.

Last Name: Mann Locality: Henrico

I thought we didn't want to "erase history?" You are not trying to protect children, you are trying to avoid all conversations of racial and gender inequality, thereby perpetuating the systems that keep those people affected by them at a disadvantage. This is a white supremacist and cowardly bill.

Last Name: Hawkins Locality: Glen Allen

I oppose the passing of HB787 that would ban "any local school board or employee or contractor thereof to train or instruct any individual on any divisive concept" or ban teaching anything that would cause someone to "feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress on account of the individual's race or sex". As a former teacher, I understand this bill's implementation would make the already difficult job of teaching even more challenging as teaching real history is inherently uncomfortable and psychologically distressing, especially for certain races and sexes. However, in order to prevent the centuries-old cycle of discrimination and hate, it is essential to teach history as it happened and support students through the discomfort. It's essential to give them tools to prevent further cycles of discrimination and hate. The creation and promotion of this bill is another attempt to prevent actual history from being taught under the guise of "anti-discrimination". It's another attempt for legislators who have never been in a classroom to undermine teacher's experience and expertise. It's another attempt to promote a particular party's agenda and talking points, which is why we have been in a cycle of discrimination and hate for so long. Let's do what is best for ALL students, the future citizens and voters of this state, and choose to teach history as it happened, not a smoothed-out version to make us feel better. Let's teach a real, honest curriculum that confronts our past mistakes and imagines a better future together.

Last Name: Kmiech Locality: Williamsburg

I speak as both a former history major and current day law student. This bill, if passed, would take away one of our key American educational values: the ability to think critcally, something sorely lacking in countries that exist under more totalitarian regimes, and something that makes American education special. Banning "divisive topics" in school will deeply harm the educations of Virginian students. The ability to discuss and debate difficult and challenging topics in the classroom allows students to question the world around them and explore creative solutions to challenging problems, with wideranging applications not only in terms of historical and archeological discovery, but also how we approach science and create new technologies. How should we define a "divisive topic?" Boiled down, all topics are divisive in nature in the world of history, because our historical understanding is never set in stone. New archeological discoveries are made every day, which change how we view the past, forcing historians to debate how this evidence changes our understanding of the past. For instance, many ancient languages have been translated for the first time in South America, allowing us to read stone carvings left behind by these ancient civilizations. This has opened the door to an expansion of historical knowledge, and historians are still piecing together this history and debating the truth using the evidence avaliable to them. Additionally, our understanding of the world changes how we view history. Once, America was ruled by a monarchy, and many historians pointed to an old idea of history that extolled the virtues of that monarchy. After the American Revolution, historians questioned that view, and instead pointed to new historical heroes, like George Washington who fought against the now seen as tyrannical monarchy. These changes still occur, based on new understandings of the world, and we should welcome debate to further strengthen our historical understanding based on real evidence. I again ask, how do we define "divisive topics"? Will we simply not discuss dark chapters of human history, like the Hollocaust or slavery? History not taught is only an invitation to see history repeated. Please, consider the future of our state and our country when deciding that you will govern how we teach the past, and consider how you take a step closer to totalitarianism if you pass this bill. Thank you.

Last Name: Owen Locality: Norfolk

Censorship of education and our classrooms is not okay. It is extremely important to teach accurate history and science in order to bring up a knowledgeable generation. Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it. This is incredible government overreach.

Last Name: Green Locality: Fairfax County

As a student of history, I believe it is ridiculous to limit what is taught in schools because it makes people uncomfortable or challenges their beliefs. History has not been smooth sailing. It is full of injustices perpetrated by one group onto another, and it is often not easy to discuss. That does not mean we should censor what is taught. It means we need to learn how to teach it sensitively yet truthfully. Lessons should be adjusted for age, but they should not be untruthful and censored. History is doomed to repeat itself if we refuse to discuss topics that make us uncomfortable or challenge existing knowledge/beliefs. Students deserve a transparent education so that they may one day participate in our democracy with critical thinking skills and historical context for modern politics, both of which are taught and developed in history classes.

Last Name: F Locality: Poquoson

It would be very dangerous and unwise to pass this bill. Children learn about "divisive" content whether it is censored in school or not. To hide parts of school curriculum that make people uncomfortable is to censor history. Children deserve to know the truth about this country. There is a lot of talk about children feeling bad or being uncomfortable learning about what marginalized groups have experienced in America in the past. Has anyone stopped to consider how marginalized children feel living in America in the present? If corners are cut when teaching children about the history of oppression in the United States, generations will fail to understand how things came to be the way they are today. On behalf of children everywhere, they have a right to know. Please do not pass HB787.

Last Name: Caskey Locality: Richmond

This legislation is extremely vague and frankly dangerous. The idea is un-American and it is a slippery slope for government to be able to censure almost anything they want. This must be voted down.

Last Name: Drexhagen Locality: Henrico

This is an absurd bill due to its vagueness. Sex-ed can now be thought of as “divisive,” should a parent truly push the matter.

Last Name: OConnell Locality: Springfield

Delegates- I would hope this proposed bill is seen for what it truly is, an attack on learning the true history of the United States. There is no need for legislation like this. Yes learning history can be uncomfortable, yes there are facts about this country that are hard to hear, but that doesn’t mean we should hide from them. Children have the right to learn an accurate and full history and be able to be in an environment where they can ask questions and wrestle with tough feelings they may have. This bill proposes to not allow any meaningful discourse to occur in our schools and is a blatant attack against conversations on racism and sexism. I want to express how concerning I find this proposed bill and I hope that it is not something we would allow to pass here in Virginia. Thank you, Colleen O’Connell

Last Name: Welch Locality: Norfolk

I strongly protest the passing of this bill. It does not reflect the constituents or the reality of our society. We can not hide away the truths of our past to make people more comfortable. If we ever truly want to move on we must educate with the whole truth.

Last Name: Lim Locality: Arlington

HB787 unjustly censors the classroom from government deemed “divisive concepts”. Education should reflect the truth.

Last Name: Lemons Locality: Virginia Beach

This bill aims to dismantle the future of our community by obstructing the truths of our past. Our public schools should not be spaces where we promote a distorted reality of our history or spaces where we criminalize those who know our history best and wish to inform the next generation of leaders and professionals to reduce replication of injustice. Our present world is a result of the actions of those that came before us, including the current disparities and privileges that we see today. For leaders to deny the existence of these situations and their lasting impact, especially here in Virginia, is a pursuit of ignorance.

Last Name: Harris Locality: Portsmouth

The world is full of uncomfortable, divisive concepts. History, science, literature, art: they can all be uncomfortable at times. If we do not give students the tools and opportunities to navigate and explore these topics safely, who will? Should children be taught to simply avoid everything that challenges them? Censoring classrooms will harm students and teachers alike, limit learning, and set a dangerous standard. This bill would silence important voices and put our children at a disadvantage instead of teaching them how to think critically. It teaches them to fear learning. It teaches them to fear speaking up. New information can be scary. It can be divisive. But, that doesn’t mean it isn’t important. The world will not become more comfortable because we hide it; this bill would only keep knowledge from students, so that they lack the ability to manage that discomfort.

Last Name: Hancock Locality: Virginia Beach

Good job listening to a loud minority of racist parents and working to block the teaching of real history. No mind taken to the millions of black parents and their children who are going to be hurt by having their history erased in schools. Know that the majority of Virginians don’t support this measure.

Last Name: Melkich Locality: Alexandria

Every student should have the right to receive an equitable education and have an open and honest dialogue about America’s history and government. HB 787 threatens that. Teaching students about the American government and history without examining its contradictions and failures leave students ignorant of their country's full story. Having the opportunity to learn and talk about the history, cultures, and experiences of Indigenous communities, people of color, LGBTQ+ and Two Spirit people, and other marginalized communities benefits all students. Preventing discussions like this is an affront to free speech and robs young people of the opportunity to learn the inclusive and complete history of our nation. Education is a tool of empowerment put to its highest use when teachers and students are given the full scope of their constitutional rights to engage in comprehensive, meaningful, and sometimes difficult conversations. Equal access to learning about our country's history – the good, the bad, and the ugly – in our educational institutions is important. The ability to discuss and debate ideas, even those that some find uncomfortable, is a crucial part of our democracy. Please vote no on HB 787.

Last Name: Lanahan Locality: Midlothian

I fully oppose HB787 which attempts to ban the teaching of “divisive” concepts in public schools. The wording of this bill is nonspecific and that could lead to widespread censorship and the blurring of the line between church and state. Who is to decide what is a divisive concept? Should we stop teaching evolution because some feel that this goes against the Bible? Are we to stop teaching historical facts because they make some people feel uncomfortable? Schools are established to teach our children what they need to succeed in this society. It is necessary for them to learn from our past mistakes so that we do not repeat them. Censoring our teachers and their curriculums is not right and it is dangerous.

Last Name: Allendorph Locality: Albemarle county

This is censorship. Censorship of real events, real people, and real history. Teachers are trained professionals who have been educated how to provide appropriate education for their students at their level. They hold bachelors, masters and even PhD’s in their fields. These are highly competent and qualified individuals. It is not the job of the government to decide what teachers can or can’t teach. Censorship has never solved any issues. We are a country founded on freedom of speech.

Last Name: Gordon Locality: Purcellville

As a young student and American citizen, I take learning the history of my nation extremely seriously. There are times where history is uncomfortable, shocking and violent, but I still understand that this is the fabric of my country. The horrors experienced by minorities in our nation throughout history can’t go unheard simply because they are an uncomfortable truth. I am a white woman, as well as a human being, and I stand with my fellow Americans whose ancestors have endured slavery, subjugation, internment, and so many more abuses. Knowing these things doesn’t traumatize me, or fill me with shame. My privilege of having this knowledge fills me with hope for having a better future that’s brighter. I feel sorrow for people who have gone through terrible things, but I feel pride in the resilience of humanity and culture through the darkest points in history. My teachers have gone through a pandemic, long working hours, lack of funding, and more, and I appreciate everything they do for me in my education. They have no control over what happened in the past, but they are obligated to inform me. I APPRECIATE their effort to educate me. They don’t make me feel afraid or ashamed of myself. They answer my questions and expand my learning. I am enlightened when I walk into my classroom. To ban “divisive topics” is to give into the “cancel culture” you claim to hate. Facts over feelings.

Last Name: Corigliano Locality: MANASSAS

What happened to big government and being anti censorship? Student's have an inalienable right to learn the factual history of their country. Anything less than factual is fictional and fiction is not how you teach students about history. If you actually cared about the education system and wanted to do something other than virtue signaling, maybe you could start with taking "under god" out of the pledge of allegiance. I mean, the concept of "god" is a divisive concept afterall isn't it. "Those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it" ~George Santayana

Last Name: Frye Locality: Chesterfield

Censorship of history has no place in education. Teachers should be supported in teaching accurate history so the our children have a better understanding of the world they live in.

Last Name: Brooks Locality: Richmond

Everyone has the right to feel included, and to know about who and what groups are out in the world regardless of if you personally agree with it or not. To be selective on what areas of knowledge is taught to kids is a dangerous path to walk. All too often we as adults think we know the best path and aspect of a child’s growth, yet every child is different. To not teach about certain minority groups could lead a child to feel on the outside or different. This kind of thing is what has led to a staggering number of teen/young adult suicide rate. We need to allow our children to know this world is diverse and there are endless possibilities out there. We cannot box young minds into thinking that the American sociological norms of the past few generations are the only acceptable path or education to learn. I cannot stress how much I oppose this bill. Thank you.

Last Name: Doyle Locality: Richmond

This is going to set a dangerous precedent for censorship in the classroom. Children should be taught the TRUTH, regardless of if it paints our government/country in a negative light - this country has done horrible things and that’s just a fact. It isn’t anti-government to teach the truth.

Last Name: McGuire Locality: Arlington

Censorship in schools is not okay. Let teacher teach.

Last Name: Evers Locality: Williamsburg

I oppose HB 787 because it will do a great disservice to our students by constraining teachers from teaching the full history of the United States and the Commonwealth. Students are entitled to an education that helps them become critical thinkers and to do that we must provide the historical facts as they happened. Sadly, it appears that HB 787 is a response to changes in the Standards of Learning that would provide a more holistic and fair version of Black history.

Last Name: VanDerhoff Locality: Springfield

I am a public school teacher in Fairfax County and I am writing to urge you to vote no on HB 787. This bill is dangerous and damaging to the institution of public education in the Commonwealth. Please stand behind the professional educators who seek to help their students develop a deeper understanding of the history of our country and navigate the interplay of race, power, and privilege in both our past and present.

Last Name: Harrington Locality: Williamsburg

Comments Document

The attachment is written to OPPOSE HB787

Last Name: Bentle Organization: Fairfax Education Association Locality: Fairfax, Herndon

I, a public school teacher in Fairfax County, and the Virginia Education Association OPPOSE HB 787. I oppose that because it assumes that the teachers in this state (that happen to be highly educated professionals) are not responsible or intelligent enough to determine on their own what is appropriate or inappropriate for their students.

Last Name: Allen Locality: Ashburn

I oppose this proposed interference with local control of public schools.

Last Name: Rogala Locality: Midlothian

How in the world does a bill use the word “feel” in defining a law. Everything that is taught at school invokes feelings. The idea that something can be banned because of how it makes them feel is crazy. So black history month should be banned because it make someone “feel” a certain way. The holocaust should be banned from being taught because it makes someone “feel” a certain way. Science has been under fire these days, so now we can ban that too because it make someone “feel” a certain way. If we run our education solely on feelings, we better just end all education. As defined by Webster, education is “an opinion arrived at through a process of reasoning.” In order to reach that process of reasoning, we must provide all perspectives, even if they may make some people “feel” like they are decisive. Doing this could open teachers to choose that they will not teach about very important historical events because they feel like it is too divisive. If this passes, I am going to request that the confederacy be banned from being taught at my child’s school. I will request that Jefferson Davis and Robert E Lee will never be taught at school because it makes me feel like this country is divisive. I will request that we never teach about elections, because they are divisive. Please stop with this ridiculous bills, and get to work on our state’s economy. Work on bills that bring in jobs to the state. Work on bills that help with infrastructure. Work on things that matter and not bills that are designed to be decisive. If we want this country to move forward, start focusing on the whole and not the parts.

Last Name: Patwardhan Locality: Fairfax County

I SUPPORT HB 1328. I OPPOSE HB 344, 787, and 1009.

Last Name: Kogon Locality: Annandale

This bill in incredibly vague and will clearly be used as a political tool to interfere with teachers doing their jobs. Virginia students deserve the best education, not "alternative facts". Just because subjects can be considered divisive doesn't mean they shouldn't be taught; quite the opposite. Learning from hard topics is what teaches them to think critically and helps develop their moral compass. I do not want my kids to be ignorant adults

Last Name: Charles Locality: Arlington County

Please OPPOSE this legislation in light of the 3 article of the United States Constitution. I immensely disappointed by the actions of elected officials to attempt to suppress knowledge and fact in public education.

Last Name: VanHuss Organization: Turnkey Locality: Mechanicsville

"Divisive concepts" = This country has a history; this is what it is. I hope people of good character and intellect help this poor fellow not go down in history as completely unable to look around a corner intellectually to understand what this means for our society. Legislators, especially Republicans, please help avoid this!

Last Name: Kalanta Locality: Staunton

Who determines what content is "divisive" If a white person objects to learning about slavery and a person of color wants to learn about it-who is the arbitrator? Teaching of History should include slavery, the Civil War, Japanese Internment Camps, the Holocaust, the Civil Rights Movement, etc. I was taught these things in school and nobody felt "bad" No feelings were hurt. Stop trying to suppress/white wash our history. How are we supposed to grow and learn and become more inclusive if we do not teach about the mistakes of the past. Those Who Do Not Learn History Are Doomed To Repeat It.

Last Name: LaVallee Locality: Richmond

This country was founded on liberty and freedom. And yet we divided and slaughtered the people who were here already and then divided and enslaved the people who physically built this country. And then we divided them again by telling them they were less than. The only way to grow as a country is to teach truthful history, which isn’t pretty but is real and indisputable. To not teach history that may “hurt people’s feelings” is a sure-fire way to raise a generation of ignorant citizens. We are not cowards. We are Americans. So tell the truth as it happened. As it was. As it still is.

Last Name: Ranney Locality: Mineral/Louisa County

OPPOSE: This bill is a veiled effort to control curriculum and liken it to book banning. We have seen, in past history, the danger of government over reach into public school curriculum. School Boards have served public education by having experts in the field of study provide curriculum for students. Parents can be members of their local School Board. When that decision is taken over by any politician, it becomes indoctrination and not education. Parents have a choice in where they want their children educated, therefore, we do not need any laws passed to restrict curriculum in public schools to favor any one group. Home schooling is a viable alternative where parents can make all decisions on curriculum. I strongly urge opposition to this bill.

Last Name: Deluna Locality: Fairfax

Honor Delegates, My name is Joseph Deluna and I am a resident of Virginia. I am submitting a comment to oppose proposed bill HB787. As this bill describes the prohibition of teaching divisive concepts, I implore to reconsider and oppose the passing of HB787 as it would censor, whitewash, and prohibit true learning of future generations of children within this country surrounding topics of racism, sexism, and oppression. The passing of this bill would be truly vile and would continue to strengthen and perpetuate systems of oppression that this country is built upon, further marginalizing the less privileged. I hope you all make the right decision to not pass this bill.

Last Name: Silver Locality: Chesterfield

This bill is narrow, reactionary, preferential and infeasible. A person’s thoughts and/feelings cannot be legislated and cannot be judged by another since, by nature, thoughts and feelings are subjective. History and facts do not have emotion or intention, only people do. So what is your intention? History is made and shared by all of us and is vital to our future generations in order to inform them of our great progress and the lengths we have yet to go. Please vote no on this bill! It’s passage will only serve to stifle the necessary truths that are required to build a greater commonwealth and a stronger country. Vote NO. Thank you.

Last Name: Forehand Locality: Chesapeake

Esteemed members of the House of Delegates, I write to you to oppose House Bill 787 regarding the teaching of divisive content. My issues with the proposal are three-fold. First, I am not convinced that this is a practice that is occurring. Instead, this appears, on the face of it, to be an appeal to the so-called culture wars. It is an example of the very divisiveness that your text purports to eliminate as a threat to our children. Second, "divisive content" is an ambiguous notion. How exactly would you determine what is considered divisive? Would the founding of our country not be divisive? After all, it offends the sensibilities of anglophiles and recent British immigrants to the commonwealth? Would it be divisive because it excludes the voices of women and people of color and therefore puts advocates for further marginalization by example? Would it not be divisive because it relied on the genocide of our nation's indigenous peoples and serves as an example of the ends justifying the means, even if those means are killing? Third, even if we were to accept some agreed-upon definition of divisive, how on earth would you enforce this? Would it not require a surveillance state apparatus? Or would this just be another opportunity for helicopter parents to make baseless reports to the tattle-tale tip line? As a concluding thought, I would like to remind you all that teachers are not the enemy. These are trained professionals who are following established learning objectives. Our public school teachers are leaving in droves. It is time to reward their work and recognize their skills. Stop vilifying them in the hopes of dividends at the ballot box during the next election cycle.

Last Name: Ludwig Locality: Reston

This proposed bill is a dangerous infringement to the ability for teachers to teach young people how to think for themselves after learning about the context of historical and contemporary events. If approved, bill 787 is a slippery slope that may lead to more controversy rather than less. Our children deserve to learn so called "divisive concepts" in order to determine how to become productive and caring citizens within their communities. I vehemently oppose this bill.

Last Name: Ludwig Locality: Reston

This proposed bill is a dangerous infringement to the ability for teachers to teach young people how to think for themselves after learning about the context of historical and contemporary events. If approved, bill 787 is a slippery slope that may lead to more controversy rather than less. Our children deserve to learn so called "divisive concepts" in order to determine how to become productive and caring citizens within their communities. I vehemently oppose this bill.

Last Name: Farrell Locality: Alexandria

If education is left to the whims of school boards, our students will not be graduating as critical thinkers. Students need exposures to a variety of systems of thoughts in order to become critical thinkers. Please do not support this bill for the future of our students!

Last Name: Winkler Organization: Battlefield Middle School Locality: Fredericksburg

As a librarian in a Virginia public school I oppose this bill. To restrict teachers and librarians in the manner in which this bill proposes is, in and of itself, divisive. I stand for intellectual freedom and defend my students' free access to information. Additionally parts of this bill, such as the posting by July 1 all resources to be used in the upcoming year is absurd. Please kill this bill and protect the students and staff of Virginia from the DIVISIVENESS that this law would perpetuate.

Last Name: Scofield Organization: Julie M Scofield Locality: Staunton

I am writing in opposition to HB787. I'm from a family of educators and believe strongly that we need to trust professional educators to develop appropriate curriculum for our children. This should not be legislated. "Divisive concepts" are necessary to be taught with care if our children are to learn the real lessons our history has to offer. Do children learn about the origins of Thanksgiving at an early age? This indeed is a "divisive concept." Are you suggesting that elementary students should not begin to learn these lessons? Black children, immigrant children and many other children learn "divisive concepts" in their day-to-day existence. I believe racism is the underpinning of this ill-advised legislation. As such, it should be killed immediately.

Last Name: Ellis Locality: Sterling

Regarding HB391, it is dangerous and non-sensical to repeal gun restrictions around schools. Gun violence is an epidemic in this country, with increases in gun-related deaths in 2021, and yet this bill would remove key protections for our student population by allowing guns in school zones. It would also strip local school boards of their right to regulate local school districts, which goes against principles of local control. I strongly oppose this proposed legislation. Regarding HB787, this bill would strip schools of the ability to teach a fair and balanced version of history for fear of making anyone feel "discomfort." Such restrictions on education are inherently ridiculous, as there are significant episodes in history that are uncomfortable that we as a society must learn from. Our own civil rights movement and the Holocaust are two critical examples of history that should not be avoided or whitewashed, else we will not be able teach how to avoid the mistakes of history. I strongly oppose this legislation. Lastly, HB1036 again attempts to supercede local control of local schools in protecting the health and safety of our students. If conservative principles are against "big government" and government control, why is it that conservatives are using the heavy hand of government to restrict local oversight? Not to mention, removing mask mandates ignores the science that masks prevent the spread of COVID in a significant way. I strongly oppose this legislation.

Last Name: Seats Locality: Spotsylvania

As a state struggling to increase student literacy rates, standardized testing scores, and teacher retention, HB 787 will hinder educational growth. Who benefits from such censorship and fear tactics? Big testing corporations and software companies, that’s who.

Last Name: Gerstenmaier Locality: Tappahannock

I am a middle school English teacher. The word divisive is too broad and certainly captures in its definition murder and love. Therefore to pass this you willingly throw out classic authors like Poe, whom resides in Virginia, and Shakespeare who’s divisive concepts are universal. I beg you, do not do this to our children.

Last Name: Forreester Locality: Richmond

I am a Virginia public school teacher and I am urging this body to strongly vote NO against HB787. Despite being a bill against the teaching of "divisive" topics, this bill creates division, but I suspect that's the point. Recently in my class, my students were learning about Susie King Taylor, who was a woman that was born into slavery in Georgia, learned how to read and write in a clandestine school for enslaved children, and later became a Union nurse and published the first account of an African American woman during the civil war. Is that divisive? I asked my students why they thought slaveholders didn't want people who were enslaved to go to school. One of their responses struck me. A student told me that they didn't want them to learn in school for the same reason they're banning the books today- "they don't want us to know the truth". The youth are so much wiser, and just "get it" so much more than politicians that actually try to divide us. Vote no against it this bill, students already know what you're up to.

Last Name: Kidwell Locality: Sterling

Dear Delegates, Thank you for your time and the opportunity to reach out regarding bills before you that impact the quality of education and the safety of my children and community. The past two years have shown us how critical it is for students to be in school for their education and mental health. After so much loss, our goal is to keep kids in school in person. School boards must have the ability to mandate masking when recommended by the medical and scientific community for mitigation to enable continuation of in person education. School boards should have the pulse of their community and be able to make the best determination for their needs as a whole. In regards to teaching, please allow teachers to do their job without "Big Brother" hovering over their shoulders. This is what they were trained to do and why they were hired. Educators have years of formal higher education, specialized professional development, experience and an interest in helping our children learn and grow. We want our children to learn facts about the world and develop critical thinking skills. To hear, at times, uncomfortable truths and develop empathy and problem solving skills is what we need for our future leaders. There are channels in place to deal with concerns with a particular teacher or lesson and those should be pursued as needed on an individual basis. We don't need to add this restraint and fear to teachers across Virginia who are showing up to lovingly and professionally do their job of educating our kids. I would like to express my strong desire for the school boards to have the ability to establish gun-free zones in their places of business. I will assume you have seen video of school board meetings such as ones in Loudoun County where I live. Having attended several in person, I can attest to the intensity, anger, and nasty verbal attacks in the room, in addition to the group gatherings to rally beforehand. Guns have no business in our school business. No one should feel intimidated or threatened and feel the need to remain silent and absent at a public meeting. Students, parents and community members attend for a multitude of reasons and should have a peaceful place to do so. In addition, our school board members have received multiple threats against them and their families and they deserve to feel and be safe. It is just common sense and for the greater good of all. It seems very strange to have to email to express my desire for pandemic mitigation, allowing teachers to do their jobs, and to not have deadly weapons in school board business. These all seem common sense, especially given the world we've been living in. But I realize everything is upside down right now. Please consider the greater good of all when voting on these bills. Most everyone just wants good health, safety, and peace. I wish that for each of you as well. Thank you for your time and for all you do. Kerry Kidwell

Last Name: Meade Organization: Nicholas Meade Ministries Locality: Glen Burnie

In contradistinction to the critics of the policies or curriculum that the originators of this bill seek to remove, there are palpable benefits from teaching these so-called divisive topics. The argument is that subjects like Critical Race Theory causes division by pitting white persons against black persons, but this is a fallacy. Critical Race Theory and other so-called topics that supposedly cause division truly only call for a reckoning on those topics. This is not about blaming those in the present for the sins of the past or making those in the present to feel some sort of guilt from advantages they received from the oppressive tactics and practices of the past. We all stand on the shoulders of our ancestors - for good or for bad. This type of curriculum therefore only calls for everyone to have a conversation and come to the table based upon the truth of what happened in the past. What happened in the past regarding slavery and Jim Crow etc. cannot be denied or refuted. The advantages that some received as a result are undeniable. However, one could choose to look at so-called divisive topics another way. Instead of viewing them as a threat to the status-quo or happiness of those in the present, it actually encourages healing and reconciliation. It invites everyone to the table to have difficult conversations while maintaining the idea that we are not responsible for the sins of those of yesteryear. I remember hearing a white brother and fellow preacher say that in order to fix it, you've got to face it. Let us face what happened in the past and the inherent disadvantages/advantages that such practices produced so that we can move forward united to work for the equality of all human beings. Why is it that around the day where we celebrate the birth of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. we only want to remember the dream without first acknowledging the nightmare that he highlighted - how this country wrote a check to people of color which was returned or bounced due to insufficient funds? We want to remember the hope but try to turn a blind eye to the despair of King and others. To appreciate the light you need to acknowledge that darkness exists and existed. Failing to reckon with the past will perpetuate the same spirits in the present. So-called divisive topics can actually bring more healing than proponents of this bill realize. I hope that before seeking to prevent the teaching and discussion of these so-called divisive topics, that lawmakers truly pause and consider. Is teaching about the Holocaust divisive for students of German origin? Is teaching about Pearl Harbor or the atomic bombs in World War 2 divisive? Is teaching about apartheid to persons of South African descent divisive? Is teaching about Tiananmen Square to persons of Chinese descent divisive? Is teaching about slavery, Jim Crow, and all that black people endured in this country divisive or is it just a reckoning with history? If you consider these questions honestly, you will arrive at the inevitable conclusion that the only thing capable of keeping us divided is a refusal to come to the table honestly and discuss the past so that its effects in the present are minimized.

Last Name: Kinney Locality: Purcellville

HB391 and HB787 are connected, and both bills need to drop dead on the floor. HB 787 bans critical THINKING in the name of banning an epistemology and conceptual framework designed for researchers and academics. When we don't teach our children to be critical thinkers, and when we don't educate the whole child, we end up in situations where divided communities and schools bolster unaddressed mental health issues (another flaw in our broken system) leading to school shootings. You're trying to tell us that by repealing the gun prohibition on school board property, no unhinged parent is going to show up, waving a gun, making demands? A woman made national news for *threatening* to bring a gun at a school board meeting. Why are we making it easier to harm one another? At the root of both of these bills is an evil need to do harm to others. Drop them both.

Last Name: Fatiga Locality: Fredericksburg

Good morning. I am a teacher, a mother of 2 school aged children and a voter here in the state of Virginia. The purpose of public education, historically speaking, is not to indoctrinate or youth, but to educate them on concepts for the betterment of the WHOLE of society. To understand the world we are living in and create humans who can actively interact in our society, sometimes concepts must be taught that may make some uncomfortable. Change and growth can, at times, be uncomfortable. If they were not, we would be stagnant. We would be the same. Growth is uncomfortable. We need the growth to better our own ever changing society. For our children, our teachers and our Virginia, please vote no on bill hb787. Thank you.

Last Name: Lindsey Locality: Fairfax

I'm asking you to reject HB787. The Bill remains unclear about exactly what would constitute an inherently divisive concept. Moreover, denying Virginia students the opportunity to learn about and navigate complex issues in the classroom leaves them woefully unprepared to navigate the world outside the classroom. They will be losing the opportunity to become critical thinkers and informed, engaged citizens. They will face uncomfortable moments and difficult decisions throughout their lives. Our job is to prepare them for that. Children learn every day, not just in classrooms, bit beyond, by watching our words and our deeds. Passing legislation that prevents them from dealing with complex issues in fully informed ways, or fully and completely understanding their history and how it had shaped and continues to shape the world on which they live does not prepare them to do so ethically. It also teaches them that being informed, making long-lasting decisions based on information and facts is less important than acting on impulse and emotions. It teaches them refusing to engage with the difficult, the complex, the scary is appropriate and denies them the opportunity to be empathetic and engaged citizens. Virginia public schools should be a point of pride in Virginia, a reason people live here, move here, stay here. A Virginia that bans essential elements of rhe curriculum (like a robust knowledge of history), and this denies children opportunities to develop key skills necessary for successful adult of the future (critical thinking, problem solving, and more, hurts Virginia. It hurts our schools, our children, and our future in so many ways. To legislate a curriculum that is based on vague terms and ideologies not fully articulated is hardly worth this risk.

Last Name: Travers Locality: Orange

The effort to remove "divisive concepts" is unclear and leaves room for broad censorship and unspecified alteration of our education system without clear justification or benefit. This bill should not move forward.

Last Name: Mason Locality: Richmond

It’s shameful and dangerous to vilify teaching history because it may cause discomfort. We learn valuable lessons from the past. It is important to teach our students accurate history, including the painful parts so that we can reflect, grow, and learn. Hopefully parents are raising children to identify with the moral actors in history, how to stand up to injustice, and build better communities. We shouldn’t need to fear teaching history because it may hurt some peoples feelings.

Last Name: Shaw Locality: Hampton

Dear Delegates, As a constituent and taxpayer of the Commonwealth of Virginia, I am writing to urge you to oppose HB787. I believe that Virginia students deserve the very best education, which should include opportunities for thoughtful dialogue and the ability to learn about a variety of perspectives, beliefs, and experiences. By seeking to legislate what content is or is not allowed in public schools, this bill reflects a deeply disturbing attempt at censorship. Additionally, to suggest that racism, sexism, and other forms of oppression are “divisive concepts” disregards crucial moments throughout U.S. and Virginia history, moments that were undeniably impacted by these concepts. Censoring discussion of the many lessons we have learned throughout our history takes away the opportunity for Virginia students to reflect on the past and to forge a unified future for everyone. I urge proponents of this bill to reconsider how censorship is what, truly, would sow division in our Commonwealth. Again, please oppose HB787. Sincerely, Cameron Shaw Hampton VA

Last Name: Kannengieszer Locality: Loudoun

I strongly oppose HB787. As a Loudoun resident, I have heard repeated claims on both local community social media accounts, and in our school board meetings, of "CRT" being taught in our schools. To date, there has been no evidence provided as proof that these claims have merit, despite multiple requests of anti-"CRT" proponents to share evidence. No copies of assignments, presentations, or recordings of these occurrences in our schools. The repeated response is that this is happening clandestinely, but still reaching our students. The truth is that until conservative media started presenting this boogeyman of "CRT," the majority of people in VA, and the US, had never heard of it. Our curriculum has not changed significantly in the years that I have had children in the K-12 school system, so if this were to exist, we would surely have plenty of evidence to reference. Last week, I received a note from my child's 9th grade Honors English teacher informing parents that students would be starting their next literary unit. The students will be reading "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee, a book I also read in high school English many years ago, and "Just Mercy (Young Adult Version)" by Bryan Stevenson. The former is a celebrated, Pulitzer-prize winning work examining the roots of human behavior, and the latter is a true story of a lawyer's experiences dealing with the machinations of the criminal justice system. Both books focus on a man accused of crimes he did not commit. The announcement of both books also came with a reassurance from my child's amazing teacher that "CRT concepts" would not be taught. I personally found the need for that reassurance disgusting. I truly cannot comprehend support for a bill that promotes the idea that condemning injustice against our nation's citizens is somehow "divisive," or that feeling "discomfort" when learning about these injustices is somehow problematic. The goal of a K-12 education is to prepare children to enter university-level studies and/or begin their careers. It is critical that our students have the skills to analyze a situation from multiple viewpoints in order to have a more complete understanding. "Feelings" are not objective, nor can they be extrapolated to anyone beyond the individual themselves. The idea that all students would be robbed of educational opportunities based on one individual's feelings, or a politically motivated activist group's opinion on the instructor's motivations in teaching a book or concept, is an embarrassment to the state of Virginia. I ask that you oppose HB787, and continue to allow our children the freedom to experience a complete education that will result in the development of the critical thinking skills needed in the future. The citizens of this state are richly diverse, and all should be able to contribute to the education of our children without fear of government retaliation. This bill would violate the 1st Amendment rights of every citizen of VA, and should not be allowed to proceed further.

Last Name: Sanders Locality: Brighton

I strongly oppose HB787. This is an absolute violation of rights to be so broadly controlling what can and cannot be taught in public schools. You can't pick and choose what parts of history and life our children learn about. You can't decide what points if view are taught and which are not just based on your own personal politics. That's not giving the full picture and not giving children the opportunity to learn and form their own perspectives. This bill is outrageous to even be proposed and must be stopped.

Last Name: Setser Locality: Round Hill, VA

HB787: I am a Loudoun County resident and I am writing against HB787. I am outraged and disgusted by the proposal of this bill. This proposed bill is in response to what some lawmakers think is critical race theory being taught in our schools, which is absolutely untrue. Talking about race and sex is not racist or sexist, but ignoring these topics is. This proposed bill limits students’ academic freedom, is a violation of free speech, and is an attempt at thought policing. I am a history and political science major and I can’t stress enough the importance of teaching the history of our nation in its entirety. Not all topics in our nation’s history are pretty. It includes historic unfair treatment for Americans of different race and sex and these are not topics that should be glossed over or avoided. I don’t understand how these grown adult lawmakers are so afraid of these topics. It is because they are cowards, and I am ashamed that representatives of my state would propose such legislation. Our students deserve to learn the truth of our nation’s history so that they can understand the American experience from all sides and have a richer understanding of the past because of it. I strongly oppose this proposed bill and I hope that our state representatives make their constituents proud and do the same. HB391: I am a Loudoun County resident and I am writing against HB391. Schools should retain the authority to deem their non-school zone property as a “gun-free zone.” The current statue does not apply to law enforcement officers, therefore they are not prohibited from carrying firearms and they are the only individuals that should be permitted to do so. There is no need for individuals on school board owned, non-school property to (as the current statue states) “purchase, possess, transfer, carry, store, or transport firearms, ammunition, or components of combination thereof while an individual is on such property”. In 2020, (the most recent year for which complete data is available) 45,222 people died from gun-related injuries in the U.S., according to the CDC. Our country has one of the highest rates of gun related deaths among developed nations. With an increase in mass shootings, especially tied to schools, more firearms are not the answer. As a tax payer who provides funding for these buildings, I want my local school board to retain the authority to set the policy on guns that they deem appropriate for our area.

Last Name: Dent Organization: Center for Faith, Justice, and Reconciliation Locality: ARLINGTON

Comments Document

Dear Delegate LaRock and K-12 Education Committee, My name is Dr. Sabrina Dent. I write these comments responding to HB787 as the parent of an African American school-aged child; and, as a public scholar whose research and work is dependent on the truths about American history. ALL of American history. Whereas, I have made several attempts to submit my comments that were under the character count requirement but were accepted; I have attached them as a file. Please read my attached statement in its entirety along which include citations from the National Council for the Social Studies C3 Framework guidelines about historical inquiry and historical thinking for students' learning experience. Sincerely, Dr. Sabrina E. Dent

Last Name: Sanders Locality: Fredericksburg

As a public middle school teacher, I write to urge you to OPPOSE HB787. We are highly trained professionals who know how to lead discussion in our classroom. This bill only furthers the false messaging that public educators indoctrinate our students to believe what we believe. On the contrary, we teach our students to engage in critical thinking on countless topics, so they may form their own opinions based on evidence. NO ONE who supports this bill can claim to be supportive of public education. If you were, you would be spending your time in Virginia schools to see what we actually teach, what our amazing students can achieve, and what massive needs we have for your productive attention. If you truly knew anything about public education, you would know that this bill is wholly unnecessary. This does nothing but continue to sow devisiveness, which is the very thing it is supposedly going to ban. Just because history is uncomfortable, does not make it devisive. If you actually trust and respect the trained professionals who have been hired in public schools all over the Commonwealth, you will stop wasting your time, and the time of the people of Virginia, with this incredibly insulting bill. Instead, direct your attention toward further funding our schools so that we can continue to give our students the education they deserve.

Last Name: Ludwig Locality: Hampton

Delegates, I am writing to urge you to vote no on HB787. A law that prohibits the instruction of "divisive concepts" is overly broad and subject to the interpretation of political influences. To secure the future of this commonwealth, we need to ensure that our education systems can adapt to societal changes. It is clear that this law aims to make the teaching of Critical Race Theory illegal. It is also painfully evident to anyone who has paid attention to national events over the last few years that racism will not disappear if we refuse to acknowledge its existence. We have a responsibility to give future generations the tools they will need to call out racism where they see it. Our kids deserve to understand discrimination and recognize it so they can effectively fight it better than we have. I want all children to learn what I didn't realize until I was nearly grown. That racism didn't end with slavery or with the Civil Rights Act. This bill will stop that from happening. This bill will keep the status quo. This bill will allow for the political weaponization of our children's education. HB787 is a disservice to our children and to Virginia I call upon all of you to vote no.

Last Name: Johnson Locality: Springfield

It is vital to have as much of an objective and realistic representation of history and facts that the country is built on and the mistakes we are learning from as possible. We should not be omitting or manipulating the facts to make them seem less atrocious or terrifying (though of course they should be presented in age appropriate ways in the classroom). We need to ensure we learn and heal from history, not turn a blind eye to it or put on rose colored glasses. To make vague, blanket rules or ways of restricting how educators present an already objective, accurate curriculum in an effort to be "less divisive" is so very dangerous and frankly unacceptable. Some things unequivocally need to be argued against, and repeating or even simply denying a horrific history is something we cannot do as a whole. We all lose when we don't have the power to hear both sides without biases being allowed to manipulate the message in a way that silences a side that has repeatedly been oppressed. This is a slippery slope, and I hope you will consider the gravity of allowing such a bill to pass without more defined parameters.

Last Name: Johnson Locality: Springfield

It is vital to have as much of an objective and realistic representation of history and facts that the country is built on and the mistakes we are learning from as possible. We should not be omitting or manipulating the facts to make them seem less atrocious or terrifying (though of course they should be presented in age appropriate ways in the classroom). We need to ensure we learn and heal from history, not turn a blind eye to it or put on rose colored glasses. To make vague, blanket rules or ways of restricting how educators present an already objective, accurate curriculum in an effort to be "less divisive" is so very dangerous and frankly unacceptable. Some things unequivocally need to be argued against, and repeating or even simply denying a horrific history is something we cannot do as a whole. We all lose when we don't have the power to hear both sides without biases being allowed to manipulate the message in a way that silences a side that has repeatedly been oppressed. This is a slippery slope, and I hope you will consider the gravity of allowing such a bill to pass without more defined parameters.

Last Name: Allen Locality: Goochland

What in the world do representatives think is happening in school classrooms to warrant a bill such as this?? I teach middle school in Virginia and I’ve been made to feel like an enemy of the state with this language. What is it , specifically, that this bill aims to prevent? Does it intend to end culturally responsive teaching? Learning about students’ realities and how faculty/staff can better include their culture in schools? Celebrating the rainbow of diversity within student bodies and communities? Maybe supporters of this bill would prefer to pretend Black musicians didn’t have to consult the green book before going on tour or that enslavers loved the people they enslaved. Maybe they would prefer to gaslight children of color, making them believe they’re imagining things when they wonder about racial injustice seen with their own eyes and in their own lives. I don’t assign guilt to my white students for the injustices of this country. Yet I surely teach the nation’s ugly history along with its proud history so the future doesn’t mirror the past. This assignment of guilt is something that’s being projected; it is not something manifesting in school classrooms. Kathy Allen Live in Goochland Teach in Louisa

Last Name: Prestipino Locality: Alexandria/Fairfax County

I and my family and community of active educator voters oppose this proposal because it offends our values. Teachers are public citizens and deserve respect. They ensure all children succeed and promote growth and compassion and empathy. Do not censure educators!

Last Name: Prestipino Locality: Alexandria/Fairfax County

I and my family and community of active voters oppose this proposal because it offends our values. Medical professionals and health departments are charged with community health-not politicians. Keep mask mandates on as long as health advisors recommend communities to do so! Also, encourage more people to get vaccinated and bolstered to keep our communities safe.

Last Name: Lloyd Locality: Richmond

Censorship does not belong in schools, let alone politically based censorship. Refusing to teach history accurately is a well known play in the fascist handbook, and I ask legislators to stop this now. School is exactly where minds should be expanded, not narrow beliefs reinforced. The refusal to teach “decisive concepts” is both vague and dangerous and will be used to silence both students and educators. If your beliefs can only stand in an artificially created echo chamber, then you do not truly believe them. This is plain and simple censorship in the service of white supremacy. Please vote no on this bill.

Last Name: Lourenco Locality: Leesburg

CRT is not taught in our schools. However, this bill would deter efforts to ban the teaching of the true but not always pretty history of our country. I do not support this bill.

Last Name: DuFrain Locality: Cumberland

The bill set forth by Del. LaRock (HB 787) should not be passed. It is an affront to people of intelligence everywhere to try and limit the pursuit of knowledge.

Last Name: Ludwig Locality: Hampton

This country was founded on liberty and freedom. And yet we divided and slaughtered the people who were here already and then divided and enslaved the people who physically built this country. And then we divided them again by telling they were less than. The only way to grow as a country is to teach the truthful history, which isn’t pretty, but is real and indisputable. To not teach history that may “hurt people’s feelings” is a sure fire way to raise a generation of ignorant citizens. We are not cowards. We are Americans. So tell the truth as it happened. As it was. As it still is.

Last Name: Ashton Organization: Retired Locality: King George

This is a bill that will increase divisiveness rather than address it. First, it does not lay out any description, definition or examples of what is meant by "divisive" so how will this bill be implemented without metrics defining meaning or practice. Second, and more importantly, this bill is a set up to attack teachers with subjective, biased and unfounded claims. School administrators and teachers were drowning in demands on their time, skills and hearts before COVID, which has made those demands enough to drive them out of their professions. Talent we can ill afford to lose if we truly care about our children. Just like the Governor's spying, tattle tail education hotline, this is just one more attempt to destroy public education. This bill should experience a quick death in committee.

Last Name: Moore Locality: Carrollton

I still can’t believe this is even being considered an issue. While our history is not pretty (most peoples aren’t unfortunately), but just because it makes people uncomfortable doesn’t mean it didn’t happen and we shouldn’t teach it. It SHOULD make you uncomfortable, it NEEDS to make you uncomfortable! It’s uncomfortable because we have to look back, own up, and accept the fact that our country as a people have committed horrible atrocities on those they deemed different or less than, many of our own. The only way to grow and move forward as a country is to teach the truthful history, which isn’t pretty, but is real and indisputable. To not teach history that may “hurt people’s feelings” is a sure way to raise a generation of ignorant citizens, doomed to repeat the past. If we’re going to claim all the glory that comes with calling ourselves Americans, then we have to claim the shame of our past as well. So tell the truth as it happened. As it was. As it still is.

Last Name: Brooks Locality: Henrico Co.

I am writing to encourage the subcommittee to vote against HB787. This wrong-headed and dangerous legislation flies in the face of all that is sacred in public education. This ill-considered bill smacks of censorship and authoritarianism. Its language regarding what constitutes a "divisive concept" is purposely vague, making it all the more dangerous. Knowledge and information coupled with sound critical thinking skills are the bedrock of our public education system. Intellectual discomfort and challenges to rote thinking can be precursors to growth and greater understanding, individually and among people. We do not need to hide factual information or difficult concepts from our children. On the contrary, they need and want to experience such things in an age-appropriate and safe manner, like a classroom, to begin to develop their own abilities to evaluate and assess information and come to reasoned, supportable conclusions. This bill does not seek to solve a problem in public education. This bill seeks to inject partisan ideology into our classrooms. Young people want factual, honest information from which they can learn and grow. Adults pushing their politics into the classroom are doing great harm to students. Please reject HB787.

Last Name: Nolan Locality: Midlothian

School curriculum should be determined by school board and should be open to FACTS and history. We cannot avoid topics that make some people uncomfortable. The point of teaching history is to help people avoid mistakes of the past. We cannot do that if we make stories of the past more palatable. As a parent, I want my children educated with the truth.

Last Name: Yoko Locality: Carrollton

"Divisive" topics is vague and EverWing the territory of propaganda instead of education. If petite don't want their children to learn certain topics, then they can homeschool their children. We need to teach actual American history which will include issues that people find divisive for some reason, like the KKK was bad, slavery was bad, land was illegally stolen from Native Americans, etc. These aren't issues that need to be "hidden" from elementary schoolers and even less so from those in middle school. Many children learn about these "divisive" topics firsthand due to the inequality/inequity our country still shows to half of its citizens in elementary school. Stop pretending you're trying to "protect children" because these bills don't do that, it just spreads propaganda pretending we have some immaculate history in this country while having no issue pointing out the faults of others. America is and should be better than this. It's 2022, not 1964, and especially not 1864. Anyone supporting this bill needs to grow up and accept the reality of our history and how things still need to change instead of pretending we're some testament to democracy access growth, because bills like this price exactly the opposite. It's a disgusting request and it should be immediately denied as unnecessary and dangerous to society to pretend certain topics don't exist. Children are smart and hate is taught by glossing over indignities, not by teaching what happened to learn how to avoid it from continuing to happen. The writers and supporters of this bill should be ashamed of themselves.

Last Name: Hynes Locality: Arlington

How in the world is Virginia even legitimately considering this racist bill? This document is suggested by delegate who participated in the insurrection of our government, spreads conspiracy theories, and whose his resignation has been called for - how is Virginia even considering any legislation from a from a known toxic, racist, delusional white supremacist?

Last Name: Trerotola Locality: Fairfax

You can't just say divisive you need to be explicit. History teachers have to cover some uncomfortable topics so everyone understands what is at stake if we don't learn from the past.

Last Name: Johnson-Ward Locality: Midlothian

This bill is astoundingly arrogant. Who decides what is divisive? Will we stop teaching math? Particularly division? It is a natural phenomenon. Do members of this Body never disagree with a spouse? Do members of the party that Mr. LaRock declares ever disagree? Or is the General Assembly trying to achieve cult culture? How do children learn to cope with difficult subjects or problems if never taught to reason through them? How do you teach critical thinking skills if students are never presented with problems? What is the point of education? When a student graduates from this "cult" academy, how will they problem solve on a job? How will they creatively suggest multiple solutions to a problem? Perhaps the book "The Giver" might instruct one as to why censoring schools is a very bad idea. This bill is outlandish and insulting. I encourage the members of this body to vote no on HB787.

Last Name: Ledford Locality: Abingdon

As a citizen of Virginia and a registered voter, I want to express my opposition to HB787, which seeks to ban the teaching of "divisive concepts" to kids in elementary & middle schools. I do not want my elected representatives voting to enact a law that has been created with intentionally vague terms, which are dangerous and problematic in the fact that they will inevitably lead to restricting educators from being able to teach historic truths, including the dangers of long term systemic racism that has been woven into our stare's and nation's history and continues to affect every part of our society. Students cannot become critical thinkers and productive citizens when swaths of history are ignored, and furthermore, being able to examine and identify systemic wrongs is not divisive, but rather unifying in that it will lead to young people of all backgrounds to become aware that the problems in our society can only be changed when we all work together to change the system instead of trying to blame individuals .

Last Name: Bentle Organization: Fairfax Education Association Locality: Fairfax, Herndon

The Virginia Education Association and I (a public school teacher in Fairfax County) OPPOSE HB 787, because it is a close-minded, unnecessarily restrictive demand of public educators.

Last Name: Shaw Locality: Alexandria

This is a blatant piece of pandering to those Virginia citizens who have been duped into fear of "critical race theory." It is an unpatriotic and cynical attempt to reinforce fear-mongering lies Virginians have been told alleging the teaching of critical race theory in public elementary and secondary schools. This legislation should be rejected because: 1) Critical race theory is not being taught. 2) The definition of "divisive concept" is outrageously broad and could be used to intimidate public school teachers and other employees into avoiding important topics in history or civics. History is an absolutely critical subject matter for our students, and not just the pleasant parts of it. Our nation isn't perfect. To understand it, to love it, to contribute to its betterment requires honest, full examination. We need to focus on encouraging rigorous examination rather than narrowing what parts of history and the American experience can be discussed in our schools. 3) In particular, this bill may prevent teachers from examining the full view of our nation's history, which must include an examination of slavery and racial discrimination. True patriotism requires us all to look honestly at our country, to appreciate the both the great achievements of our people AND the injustice that has undermined this nation and prevented us from reaching our full potential. This country can be greater, but to improve, we have to examine our nation considering the many different experiences of our people and seeking to ensure true equality and opportunity for all. I urge all legislators who truly love Virginia and the United States to reject this ridiculous and dangerous legislation. It was not produced in service of the citizens of this state, but in service of con men trying to increase their own power and fill their coffers by tricking citizens into shortchanging our students and the future of this great state and country.

Last Name: Peycelon Locality: Virgina Beach

Way too vague. This is a disguised attempt to banned CRT which is not part of the current curriculum. Section vii is so vague that if any student feel ANY discomfort, this would mean it is unlawful. This vaguely written sub section would open the flood gates for almost anything. Stop controlling and trying to regulate thoughts and progress.

Last Name: Skillman Locality: Chesterfield

This country was founded on liberty and freedom. And yet we divided and slaughtered the people who were here already and then divided and enslaved the people who physically built this country. And then we divided them again by telling they were less than. The only way to grow as a country is to teach the truthful history, which isn’t pretty, but is real and indisputable. To not teach history that may “hurt people’s feelings” is a sure fire way to raise a generation of ignorant citizens. We are not cowards. We are Americans. So tell the truth as it happened. As it was. As it still is.

Last Name: Garner Locality: Herndon

The proposal of this is ridiculous. VA students should be taught *all* history, good & bad. Wow, talk about your snowflakes. Only those who fear real history being learned to keep power will vote for this.....or by some who are so simple they have no idea they're being duped. We will never grown as a nation without the pain of development.

Last Name: Coleman Locality: Hampton

Our children need to be taught broad scale perspectives on every topic. Do not censure and limit what our children can learn. That is a grave disservice to the children of Virginia. It’s also blatantly classist, racist, discriminatory, and oppressive.

Last Name: Wentzel Locality: Centreville

This bill is blatant racism, plain and simple. Aren’t we better people than to hide behind trying to protect children from feeling uncomfortable when you really mean white parents who feel uncomfortable with their children learning that racism and prejudice still happen today. Clearly there is no concern for Black and Latinx parents and children who feel uncomfortable. When I attended a private high school in Fairfax, VA from 1975-1979. There were 1500 students and 18 were Black. Teachers turned a blind eye when students called us “n****r” and taped pictures of cross burnings to our lockers. My first job was at a public library, none of the Black staff was allowed to work on the main floor. I taught for thirty-eight years in Prince William County at a public school named after a man who fought to not be a part of the United States. In 2015, a coworker told her largely Latinx class that after the election most of them would not be allowed to stay in this country. If I tell you this and your response is that it’s okay because talking about it makes you uncomfortable then you are neither a good person or an honest public servant. I never thought I would live in a fascist country but inch by inch that is the direction we seem to be going. Please do better for all of the citizens of this commonwealth, especially the non-white citizens, who deserve laws that respect them and their lived experiences.

Last Name: Tandy Locality: Loudoun County

HB787 is a particularly troubling bill. This bill reads like, and appears to be intended to encourage, embolden, and further entrench systemic racism. As such, it amounts to an attack on education. What could have been a bill to enhance education and deal w/ the nuances of teaching about our countries history on the subject of racism is instead taking a hatchet to the entire notion of teaching about it. The bill is so broad and open that it would likely be very difficult to apply in practice and lead to quite a few lawsuits I imagine. I suspect that the bill would further weaken public education as it would require teachers to follow an extremely vague and broad set of guidelines that are at odds with teaching history. Virginia's students are capable of learning and understanding difficult concepts like racism and they deserve far better education than this bill would allow.

Last Name: DuFrain Locality: Cumberland

There are currently many ways to review and provide feedback on curricula/instruction and instructional materials in our public schools. There are meetings, information sessions, posted instructional material, PTA/PTO, etc. What we emphatically do not need is a bill banning the teaching of "divisive concepts." Teachers' instructional material is already reviewed in advance; what more does Del. LaRock want them to do? Adding additional hoops to jump through with absolutely no benefit is a ridiculous overreach and demand on teachers' and administrators' time. Implying repercussions for not teaching from both sides of a "divisive" issue is extremely harmful. As a parent of public school students I have no desire for my children to learn that Nazis maybe weren't all bad and that Jim Crow wasn't necessarily meant as a way to extend slavery in a slightly different form. These topics should be addressed with the expertise of educators in their field, not dictated by a whitewashed view of history, contemporary culture, and politics. Furthermore, the language encouraging local school boards to "adopt policies.... more comprehensive" is a dangerous, slippery slope for board members to ban difficult topics altogether and silence educators. I wholeheartedly oppose this bill and ask all those who believe in an accurate, thought provoking, and thorough education for Virginia's children do the same. Thank you.

Last Name: Farmer Locality: Round Hill, Loudoun County

I want to voice my concern about and opposition to HB1036. To my mind this bill is constructed in overreaction to a normal and necessary history and cultural curriculum. I think we need to tamp down the rumors and emotional reaction to what we think may be divisive concepts. Our teachers are working hard to give our children a well rounded education and we should support them. This bill puts educators under fire who already have a stressful job. Please vote against it.

Last Name: Irving Locality: Midlothian

LaRock's HB 787 is, frankly, un-American. The attack on free speech and academic freedom is predicated on the biased judgement of the charging party--so they can make teaching an actual crime. As an educator (former elementary and high, current university), parent, and American, I am abhorred this is even entertained this far. What is the criteria for charging a "divisive" concept? How can you measure "damage" done to children's psyche by learning a new perspective? What examples does LaRock have of children being harmed by being exposed to "divisive" concepts? What the heck IS a "divisive" concept, and who gets to define that? It is a relative term and, like the Supreme Court knocked out Youngkin's EO on "divisive" concepts, that precedent should be followed in considering 787. This is an opening salvo on education that leaves the door open for burning books that have "divisive" ideas, and an attack on our already-embattled public school teachers. My grandfathers both nearly lost their lives fighting an enemy who had this philosophy towards knowledge, ideas, and free thought in the Second World War. The fact that a public official would think this appropriate is disconcerting.

Last Name: Foust Locality: Midlothian

This bill is absolutely atrocious. Please do not pass this. Teachers are not teaching divisive things to children. Please trust teachers to continue doing what they can for our students.

Last Name: Hamlin Locality: Henrico

As a teacher of 14 years, this bill is offensive and belittling of the profession. Teachers are trained and licensed professionals, not leftist talking boxes. There is a teacher shortage and bills like this will cause many to leave the profession and dissuade others from entering. This is an outright attempt to white wash history and prevent students from becoming critical thinkers.

Last Name: Peycelon Locality: Virginia Beach

I am writing to express my opposition to HB 787. It is too vague in wording and overreaching and excessively restrictive in intent. Please let teachers teach. Respectfully, Alicia Peycelon

Last Name: von Schill Locality: Charlottesville

This proposed bill is shameful - and frankly embarrassing. It is clearly pandering to people who don't understand the purpose of education, and don't appreciate the value of education. There are so many things wrong with this, beginning with the ridiculously vague and dangerous idea of "divisive concepts." I assume that this would include any discussion of religion? Please, Virginia is often the laughing stock of the country and the world... this is a perfect example of why we are ridiculed on a regular basis.

Last Name: Mikesell Organization: Sandra Mikesell Locality: Richmond

The bill is Unlawful and Discriminatory. This is Fascism.

Last Name: Archer Locality: Radford

Respectfully, please do not pass this bill. This is dangerously vague, and has a chilling effect on our teachers. Please trust them. They have the education, training, and experience to know what and how to teach our children, and when difficult conversations and topics are appropriate. I'm a parent of a child in public school; the last thing that I want is another piece of bureaucracy getting between our children and what our teachers do best: teach. I want my child to grow up learning how to grapple with difficult concepts and ideas, not coddled into a stupor by pretending that "everything is awesome." Thank you for your time.

Last Name: Harris Locality: Henrico

You don't know me, but I attended and graduated from Henrico County Public schools. My life has been deeply enriched by quality teaching of literature and history involving "divisive topics." They fostered critical thinking and a reverence for facts and truth in a world where everything seems to be nothing but spin. I'm deeply disappointed that Virginia legislators would even think to create this bill. It's straight out of Orwell's "1984," a book I read as a public school student that taught me a vivid lesson about trying to hide or rewrite history, which seems to be the point of this bill.

Last Name: Seyba Locality: Yorktown

Please vote NO HB787, which seeks to ban the teaching of "divisive concepts" (a dangerously vague term). I’ve watched several committees meetings and I haven’t heard of an example of it being taught here or a actual definition of it. Thanks

Last Name: Onstott Locality: Aldie

This idea that our schools are teaching divisive concepts, therefore using indoctrination is absurd. I’ve had 2 students recently go through LCPS (one 2021 graduate and one is currently a senior). CRT is NOT being taught to these students, and they are certainly not being indoctrinated. Define “divisive concept”. If it’s anything that makes a person uncomfortable, I challenge you to listen to a family member of a Holocaust survivor or slave. These topics ARE uncomfortable, and they should be. They are a dark cloud over our history. But that doesn’t mean students should not learn that history. It’s how we grow and how we do better. Our history wasn’t always unicorns and rainbows, and it shouldn’t be painted as such. Teach these kids age appropriate but ACCURATE history, and stop pretending these historical events didn’t occur.

Last Name: Fitzsimmons Locality: Richmond

“Without Freedom of Thought, there can be no such thing as Wisdom; and no such thing as public liberty, without Freedom of Speech.” - Benjamin Franklin These bills are vague, unnecessary, and potentially massively harmful. Teachers have enough tightropes to walk on, and are underpaid and underappreciated to boot. They've stepped up massively during this pandemic, and this is what we think they need from their legislature? This censoring of freedom of spiritual and intellectual inquiry is harmful, and while potentially coming from a good place morally, is fundamentally wrong-headed. What happens when children grow up and are confronted with these or any other challenging concepts in the wild of their everyday lives? They'll be all the more blindsided by it, and will be more vulnerable to bad actors acting in bad faith. Not allowing exploration of these or any other concepts into the classroom, where a healthy discussion can occur guided by capable professionals, will hamper the development of young minds. Young minds can gain wisdom by discussing these concepts in a safe setting, and can prepare them to decide for themselves how they'd like to live. These bills, in their current iterations, would do children harm in their efforts to protect them. The first amendment is fundamental to American political and intellectual life. Bills that seek to limit it do not belong in our laws. "I know of no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them but to inform their discretion." - Thomas Jefferson

Last Name: Teasley Locality: WHITE POST

Stop these divisive and ignorant bills regarding what concepts teachers my teach. Our teachers work in a learning environment and our children deserve the truth. Stop being ashamed of our history. We will not move forward as a Nation by not understanding history, all of it, the good with the bad. Allow teachers to teach and support them accordingly. Our children and future depend on it.

Last Name: Duncan Locality: Chantilly

Critical race theory is not taught in grades K-12 in Virginia schools. Teachers need to teach topics that tell the whole truth of our history and the world’s history, and not just from the perspective of the American point of view, the colonizer point of view, or the hidden whitewashed point of view many of us grew up with. To understand history and not be doomed to repeat, students need to be taught the real truth of history.

Last Name: Miller Locality: Albemarle

Read the history of the Third Reich and of Stalin's USSR. You'll find that they, too, did not permit "divisive" material. See "Stasi" if that doesn't help. We pay taxes to fund public education in order for children to *learn*.... not to be programmed like robots. This bill is a disgrace to the Commonwealth, and the Constitution of the United States.

Last Name: Weimer Locality: Palmyra

Once again, thank you for offering the public the opportunity to comment on proposed legislation. The bill's attempts to define "divisive" only open up an endless can of worms of problematic terminology: "fundamentally," "inherently," " should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment solely or partly because of the individual's race or sex," (this last clause so clearly has affirmative action and opposition to diversity initiatives in employment in mind), "bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex." Rather than try and conceal any critical teaching about significant historical and social problems in American society stemming from the institution of slavery and systems of discrimination, it should be recognized that these problems must be understood as clearly as possible, discussed, and dealt with. This legislation will desperately try to sweep problems under the rug.

Last Name: Walter Locality: Penrose

“Divisive concepts” is so nebulous and meaningless that it opens a Pandora’s box of what is and isn’t illegal. Leave teachers alone.

Last Name: Larson Organization: (None) Locality: South Riding

This bill will cause our teachers to have to walk such a tightrope as to make their work impossible, and it should not be passed into law. There are many hard truths in this world, and teachers should be free to talk about them with students - there is no indoctrination going on in our public schools. This bill will run even more teachers out of our public school system, which perhaps is the point. But I believe in strong, thorough, honest public schools. Do not pass this bill.

Last Name: Bean Locality: SOUTH RIDING

Those who do not learn from history, are doomed to repeat it. We need to be teaching real history, including difficult concepts. That isn't being divisive, it is being honest. These attempts to ban divisive concepts are nothing more than an attempt to prevent teaching true history and they are rooted in racism. Please oppose this racist bill.

Last Name: Henry Locality: Leesburg

Dear Committee Members: When I moved up here from rural South Carolina it never occurred to me that I was moving to an area that is even more regressive and reactionary. The Republicans seem to believe in children's inherent rights (right to life) except when they don't (restricting them from their right to any and all information; CONTROLLING what they learn.) The same people seem to believe in local control (don't like the state or federal telling them what to do) except when they don't (new GOP administration nixes masks, locals want them). Make up your minds, folks, you can't have it both ways. Thoughts: 1. Give your kids some credit. They are a whole lot brighter than you give them credit for. They are perfectly capable of being exposed to all points of view on any subject, sifting through it, and deciding what is CREDIBLE and what is not. I.e., they are not your chattel and are not yours to brainwash. You have no right to restrict their exposure to information and/or ideas. (this covers un-whitewashed history, different religions, sexual content, etc, etc.) I am a retired high school history teacher, and I would suggest to you that most of you know as much about what the true essence and academic origin of CRT is as I do about plumbing. It's origins are part of the history of legal scholarship. Not exactly K-12 material. 2. Science is science is science. While you are busy being reactionary, people are dying. Most of the kids do fine and don't mind the masks. YOU JUST DO NOT LIKE BEING TOLD WHAT TO DO. Grow up. You know that's true. Besides being a retired history teacher, I am a mother, a grandmother, and a pragmatist. In case you haven't been following the (real) credible news (that leaves out FOX and Facebook), our nation is in an educational crisis. We are hemorrhaging teachers and those enrolling in teacher education. Why? Recent surveys indicate: they feel restricted in what they can teach, they don't feel safe (guns), and because of the pandemic and increased screen time, the students have ever shorter attention spans and are hard to teach. The biggest reason, though, is the parents. Parents want complete control over what their kids are allowed to learn, and they are litigious. If they don't get what they want, they sue or initiate re-calls. I.e., they are insecure and threatened 'little' people. Threatened that their own kids might be brighter or aspire to be more educated than they are. If we can't fill the teaching gaps, we will be left with private schools (not available to all) and homeschooling. I would suggest that very few people are fully equipped to homeschool. How many of us are qualified to teach the higher maths, the sciences, the languages, and performing arts, that will prepare our kids for college? And where will our next generation of doctors, engineers, college professors, thinkers, inventors, come from? Public school teachers, administrators, superintendents, librarians, are well trained and know the law. The kids are eager to learn, even when it's the cold, hard, unvarnished facts. I had black kids in the same classes with Klan kids. No topic was off limits. They did fine. We had two rules: be civil and LISTEN to each other. Joan Henry Leesburg

Last Name: Barnes Organization: TITLE* Locality: Leesburg

People who are trained as educators spend years getting their teaching certification as well as attending ongoing professional development every year. Educators, not politicians, are qualified to create and implement curriculum. A good teacher welcomes discussion among students with differing views, as it encourages critical thinking skills. HB787 is NOT good for Virginia education.

Last Name: Jahn Locality: Leesburg

This bill would impose the opinion of a political faction on the schools, overriding the considered judgement of professional educators. It would pave the way for more arbitrary political interference in teaching. It should be rejected completely.

Last Name: Paravecchio Locality: Loudoun

I'm writing to object to passage of HB787. This bill is an attempt to restrict educators ability to teach any number of subjects including history, philosophy, anthropology, political science and comparative religions, just to name a few. It could be construed to limit the teaching of other subjects such as science and mathematics should any concept within those subjects be deemed a "divisive concept" Recall that during the Roman Inquisition of 1615 it was deemed that Galileo's theory of heliocentrism was deemed heretical, and Galileo deemed suspect of heresy. History shows the error of such acts and laws, are we now to assume that the teaching of the history of Galileo might also be deemed "divisive"? This bill should also be considered as unconstitutionally broad and vague. It gives far too much power to a government to regulate thought which is a concept of freedom that this country should never surrender. Respectfully, J. Paravecchio

Last Name: MacMichael Locality: Loudoun County

Please vote no on guns in school (HB 391)- we've already had a threat to our schools this year and with school shootings on the rise again, we do not need access to weapons on school grounds. I have children in schools and appreciate that schools are a safe, gun-free zone. Please vote no to HB787- teachers are trained professionals following an approved education curriculum. This bill is government overreach especially as the author has no educational background, just a fear of teaching real history. Please vote no to HB1036 - school districts should be able to assess (with health department and medical recommendations) and decide for their own districts if masks need to be mandated. My kids are able to safely attend in-person school this year 5 days a week during peek Covid numbers because the students and staff are masked and vaccinated. Many immuno-compromised students or students with medically vulnerable families are able to attend because masking provides a barrier to disease particles. School boards should be able to assess and mandate safety protocols without government overreach. Thank you, Huyen MacMichael, Parent and Virginia Constituent

Last Name: McClung Locality: Loudoun

Loaded handguns shouldn’t be permitted on airplanes where an errant gunshot could lead to tragedy. Right? The same can be said about bringing a gun into a school board meeting, where adults and student representatives gather in what should be a safe space. Unfortunately in my county the school board meetings have already become hostile. Gun owners agree there is a time and a place to carry your weapon, this space is not one of them. Please oppose HB391. (HB1036) is written in an effort to defy science: “make it harder for local school boards to do mask mandates”. State officials do not know what is best for each county. Each county should have the authority to respond to public health emergencies in a way that best suits their community and follows guidelines set by the public health agencies. If theses agencies are not reputable then why are they funded by your same government? Stop playing games with our health and safety, we should be relying on expert health and public safety officials. Please oppose this bill HB1036 and continue to allow each county the power to decide what is best for their communities. And finally, I urge you to oppose HB787 which seeks to advance ignorance in education. The intention of this is to make sure that “teachers can’t teach divisive concepts" even though there is no evidence that CRT is being taught in ANY VA school. Where is the evidence that this is needed? VA is ranked nationally as one of the top 10 states with a solid education system. We should not be "dumbing it down" because it hurts a handful of people's feelings or because it is on our Governors agenda who has no idea about the realities of daily public school systems. The same people who want a say in their child's curriculum, likely aren't even aware they already have access to their child's curriculum. Have they ever looked? No. Has the Governor? Stop trying to change what isn't broken. Focus your efforts on attracting good teachers to VA, increasing their pay, ensuring every child can read, providing mental health resources, increasing special needs awareness, and give the teachers some paper for heavens sake. Many times they have to pay for their own paper to teach a lesson. That is the real problem.

Last Name: Osborn Locality: ALDIE

These latest bills introduced by LaRock, Freitas and Durant are ridiculous to the point of embarrassment and deserving of as little consideration as possible. To that end, I'll keep my comment intentionally brief. School systems can and should dictate student safety. School systems can and should control access to "Sexually explicit" reading material in schools. School systems can and should teach our children about things that are divisive, despite Dave LaRock's feigned fragility. Guns should, of course, not be anywhere in the vicinity of a school, a School Board meeting, a church, an airport, a restaurant, a shoe store, etc. What kind of absurdity is this bill?

Last Name: Leydon Locality: Loudoun

To the Education K-12 Subcommittee: I'm from Loudoun County (Aldie) and I'm writing to reinforce the view that I'm sure most of you hold, that the delegate we sent to Richmond (Dave LaRock) is plum crazy. His views on K-12 education, and the needs of an informed populace are so far out in right field that if you grant him his wish to ban the teaching of any concept that might appear to some ignoramus as "divisive", NOTHING will be taught in our schools .... least of all anything that has a grain of truth to it. For Pete's sake, ignore the man and stand up for the purpose for which we sent you to Richmond - to foster the development of an informed populace capable of critical thought. As for guns at school board meetings .... yeah, right. Just what we need. O.K. Corral at the School Board. One side brings a Sig-Sauer 9mm; the other shows up with an AR-15. Great. And we expect the kids to be O.K.? WTF.

Last Name: Zuckerman Locality: Round Hill

This should be called The Advancement of Ignorance bill. This legislation must be defeated if we want history and education to have any real meaning. We don't have to be proud of everything our ancestors did -- but we MUST learn from what they did.

Last Name: Bentle Organization: Fairfax Education Association Locality: Fairfax, Herndon

These bills are OPPOSED by the Virginia Education Association and myself, a public school teacher in Fairfax County.

Last Name: Millson-Martula Locality: Madison Heights

I know you do not believe that both the Commonwealth and US aren’t racist and sexist! Even your own statistics bear this out. Women’s make less than men at the same jobs and blacks ((if they are hired) make even less. These groups are very underrepresented in upper management and until fairly recently have been barred by certain public schools and the military. We weren’t even given the right to vote in the original Constitution! You would have to be willingly blind not to see that these things have ramifications for our Country’s opportunities for these groups. Racism and sexism exist in our Commonwealth and this is borne out by your own statistics. Not to teach that there are, along with the many wonderful things about our country, some things that need changing, is pure twisting of history.

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: 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: Lovelace Locality: BEDFORD

I urge to you to oppose HB78. 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." 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 the potential for punishment for teaching facts? As a parent of school-aged children, I urge you to oppose HB787.

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

Please vote no on HB787. This bill uses the word "divisive" and attempts to clarify the meaning of the word. This word is subjective, and the definition of the word as laid out in the bill is also subjective. Part of the meaning is that people and institutions are not inherently racist. Educators, if this bill is passed, would not be allowed to educate students on real history of their nation because racism is part of the very foundation of this nation. We are actively working to change racist policies and make the United States and the state of Virginia a place of equity and opportunity for all. This bill is a muzzle against truth. Shutting people up about real history and real issues of the past and present will not allow for equity to exist or for a better future.

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