Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s efforts to restrict how schools teach students about race appear to be dead in the legislature.
Leaders in the GOP-controlled House of Delegates this week ignored a request from the Youngkin administration for language in the state budget that public schools be banned from teaching “inherently divisive concepts.”
Youngkin had proposed the language when he took office as part of his legislative agenda, after a campaign that featured promises to ban “Critical Race Theory,” an academic term some Republicans use in referring to lessons on systemic racism. The request to include the language in the budget appeared to be a backstop for two bills that sought to accomplish the same goal, and could have risked public funding for schools that violated the law.
The two bills also dealing with “inherently divisive concepts” are also dead in the legislature. On Feb. 3, a Senate panel killed Senate Bill 570 from Del. Jen Kiggans, R-Virginia Beach. House Bill 1068 from Del. A.C. Cordoza, R-Hampton, was never docketed for a hearing in the lower chamber.
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The legislation would have required principals to make sure their schools are not teaching “inherently divisive concepts.” The definition of inherently divisive includes teaching that one race is “inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or subconsciously,” and teaching that “meritocracy or traits, such as a hard work ethic, are racist or sexist or were created by a particular race to oppress another race.”
Education leaders and academics had criticized Youngkin’s calls for curtailing education about race and racism as an attempt to ”whitewash” history education and target work by former Gov. Ralph Northam’s administration on diversity and inclusion. A tip line set up by the Youngkin administration to field reports of “divisive” lessons in schools fueled ire and fear.
Youngkin’s executive order on the topic — which is more narrow in scope — remains in effect. It directs state education officials to end use of “inherently divisive concepts, including Critical Race Theory.”
The order says “political indoctrination has no place in our classrooms.” It directs Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow to review and end or remove state education policies, practices or materials “that promote or endorse divisive or inherently racist concepts.”