Public Comments for 12/21/2022 Civic Education, Commission on
Last Name: Aquino Organization: Hamkae Center Locality: Charlottesville

Hamkae Center does not believe the History and Social Sciences Standards of Learning (SOLs) draft presented during the November Virginia Board of Education (VBOE) meeting are viable or appropriate for implementation in Virginia's public schools. First, The Superintendent blatantly lied during VBOE meetings to buy time so that she could completely rewrite the standards in an undemocratic process. Since July, every time the Superintendent asked to delay the process so that these groups could weigh in, she publicly misrepresented her concerns and the products she eventually presented. For example, she presented the “decoupled” document in September as a solution for readability. In November, the Superintendent then tried to create separate review processes for the “decoupled” standards and curriculum frameworks documents. Second, the Superintendent knowingly consulted groups with partisan politics that are wreaking havoc across the country to rewrite American history curriculums in at least 5 other states including, but not limited to: Colorado, Tennessee, Florida, Kentucky, and South Dakota. Thousands of Virginans already weighed in on the history SOLs in an open and democratic process. It is insulting that the Superintendent prioritized the inputs of organizations with pre-made one-size fits all curriculums, like the Hillsdale 1776 Curriculum or the Civics’ Alliance American Birthright, that have been widely criticized by historians and pedagogical experts over the voices and efforts of expert and resident Virginians. Lastly, the omissions made in the November draft were not mistakes, based on the clear exclusion of historically underrepresented communities in American history (including, but not limited to Black, Indigenous, Asian American, Latino, LGBTQ+, and non-Christians) and overbolstering of the European perspective and white American figureheads. Many standards are also not age appropriate. For example, concepts and topics found in K-3 standards - such as the Code of Hammurabi, Sic semper tyrannis, and voter registration requirements. In addition, Hamkae Center does not believe the Department of Education (DOE) can or will faithfully combine the August and November documents (as directed by the VBOE) under the direction of Superintendent Jillian Balow. The Superintendent was presented with the directive to engage community groups and subject-matter experts that provided comment at the November meeting. To the best of our understanding, she has not engaged any groups so far. Based on the lack of communications from the DOE to our organization and lack of mentions in recent press about additional community group engagement - we believe Superintendent Balow has no desire to engage additional groups. This is disappointing because community and subject-matter expert groups are prepared and willing to support the DOE to faithfully combine the documents - as noted in the November meeting. Hamkae Center cannot support the November draft. At this point, it is in the DOE’s best interest to either return to the August SOL draft OR collaborate and listen to the organizations who spoke at the November meeting to create a combined document that is well-informed, community-centered, and considerate of existing public feedback. Hamkae Center is a community group with offices in Annandale and Centreville and whose mission is to organize Asian Americans to achieve racial, economic, and social justice in Virginia.

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