Gov. Glenn Youngkin has made removing so-called “divisive” classes on race, history and identity from classrooms a cornerstone of his administration. Now a group is working to ensure that teachers can still access the material.
the Virginia Education Association (VEA) has launched an online portal for equity and diversity training materials purged from the Ministry of Education website.
James Fedderman, president of the VEA, told a press conference this week that the lessons are vital resources for teachers and students.
“We do this because we believe that educators who can teach all of our students all of our history are in the best interests of all of us,” Fedderman said.
A Pew Research poll last August found that Americans were considerably divided on whether increased attention to the history of racism in the United States was good or bad. Just over half of all survey respondents said they thought the lessons were important, but only 46% of white adults favored a greater focus on the history of racism in the United States.
Earlier this year, Youngkin set up a divisive concept advice line for people if they think a teacher is giving lessons to students. Fedderman noted that the initiative, known to opponents as the “whistleblower line,” has created a culture of fear among Virginia teachers.
“Many educators are aware that whatever they teach will be reported to the tip line,” Fedderman observed.
The General Assembly is due to reconvene for a special session next week to finalize the state’s biennial budget, and Fedderman and other education and social justice advocates are pushing lawmakers to increase funding of public education and to increase teachers’ salaries during the session.
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