The answer is YES: Yes, you can.
Being a part of the democratic process is something you may have been encouraged to do since your early days in elementary school when you first had to study US Democracy and how it works. The study of civics in schools certainly has morphed in the last 30 or more years. A pride in U.S. exceptionalism and reverence for U.S. Constitutional processes seem to be waning in favor of constant criticism, racial division, and guilt.
In the last 3 years or so, since parents began seeing and hearing their children’s lessons when relegated to learning at home via Zoom, the biases and agendas of progressive curriculums and suspect textbook review processes have manifested. Parents are speaking up.
Being concerned about antisemitism within our public schools’ curricula is not only a concern for parents of school-aged children or for Jewish students and families. This is something that must concern us all.
Benzion Netanyahu, a founding member of the nation of Israel and Benjamin Netanyahu’s father, published frequently and forecasted the Holocaust. He noted in 1933 that hatred and discrimination against Jews is not just a Jewish problem, it is a problem for all freedom-loving societies, and it demonstrates a hatred of humanity. He also recognized over a century ago that this danger exists not just in fascist regimes, but communist regimes and every other form of tyranny (Netanyahu. Bibi My Story. 2022. p. 101-108).
Several state Governors and departments of education, including in Florida and Tennessee, have taken to the task of fully reviewing texts books, page by page, and learning objectives (we call the SOLs or standards of learning in Virginia). The goal, among other things, is to identify and purge content that minimizes the Jewish experience, lumps all Jews into the identity of “white” and “privileged,” and vilifies or undermines the modern state of Israel’s right to exist. The examination also addresses the accuracy of the narrative and depiction of historical events in the Middle East in the last 100 (or more) years. These trends to undermine Israel are aligned with the agenda to delegitimize capitalism, meritocracy, and U.S. exceptionalism.
Public School Curricula review is a monumental undertaking, and it is one that is supposed to be public. And the public must take responsibility to engage.
Virginia’s Department of Education within the Younkin Administration is dedicated to the task of examining the state’s public school curriculum and reversing error, bias, lazy textbook approvals, and lesson plans that undermine the mission and goals of what used to be a premier public school system.
Governor Younkin directed the State Board to create “best in nation” history and social science standards which teach all history—the good and the bad—and prepare every graduate to be an informed member of our democracy and communities. The proposed standards meet that goal.
On January 5, the SOLs for History in the Commonwealth of Virginia were revised and published to the public for review (for eventual adoption by the state board of education.) These standards of learning are completely accessible to the public via the department’s website.
The mandatory review period is also open, meaning citizens can review and question or address concepts in the SOLs.
The Virginia Dept of education made significant additions to strengthen the content and the framing of the standards, including but not limited to:
- Strengthening the robust study of Civics throughout all grades
- Incorporating the recommendations from the Anti-Semitism Commission on the teaching of Judaism, the Holocaust, and the creation of Israel
- Enhancing the coverage of state and national symbols and locations that honor and foster patriotism;
- Including coverage of Federalist #10 and #51, the importance of free enterprise to democracy, and the importance of an unbiased press
- Including additional references to the African American experience during and after the reconstruction
- Requiring students to describe the differences between communism and a democratic nation
More specifically in our focus as Christians and Zionists, these revised SOLs incorporate the recommendations from the Anti-Semitism Commission on the teaching of Judaism, the Holocaust, and the creation of Israel.
The goal in publishing these SOLs is that the Board of Education will accept this draft for the first review. After they do so, the typical process of public comment sessions will follow in the months of February and March. After any appropriate feedback is incorporated into the standards, they will be presented to the Board of Education for final review and acceptance. That is projected to happen in March or April. From the acceptance of the SOLs, the actual learning framework can be generated. Frameworks are the actual lessons and processes for bringing the learning objectives to the classroom in age-appropriate lectures, activities, and readings—including textbook choice.
This process in Virginia is not unique to Virginia. No matter what state you live in (Minnesota’s curriculum is seriously flawed), visit your state and local boards of education websites and research the timetables for textbook purchases, public access, and opportunities to review the curriculum including learning objectives and standards. Learn how your voice and your dedication to freedom, fairness, and truth can be reflected in the process of educating all the children in your state—even if you don’t have school-aged children yourself.
Shavua Tov. Have a great week.