A delegate of the General Assembly of Virginia wants better citizenship education for the students of the Commonwealth.
Earlier this week Wren Williams proposed a bill (House Bill 781) to amend the Code of Virginia to strengthen “student citizenship skills.” It appears to be an attempt fight what Williams believes to be the threat of Critical Race Theory in Virginia schools.
Here is the first part of the proposed amendment:
As used in this section, “divisive concept” means the concept that (i) one race, religion, ethnicity, or sex is inherently superior to another race, religion, ethnicity, or sex; (ii) an individual, by virtue of the individual’s race, religion, ethnicity, or sex, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously; (iii) an individual should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment solely or partly because of the individual’s race, religion, ethnicity, or sex; (iv) members of one race, religion, ethnicity, or sex cannot and should not attempt to treat others without respect to race, religion, ethnicity, or sex; (v) an individual’s moral character is necessarily determined by the individual’s race, religion, ethnicity, or sex; (vi) an individual, by virtue of the individual’s race, religion, ethnicity, or sex, bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race, religion, ethnicity, or sex; (vii) an individual should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress on account of the individual’s race, religion, ethnicity, or sex; (viii) meritocracy, punctuality, proper language usage, free markets, and traits such as strong work ethic are racist or sexist or were created by members of a particular race to oppress members of another race; (ix) the ideology of equity of outcomes is superior to the ideology of equality, a concept enshrined in the Constitution of the United States, of opportunities; (x) mathematics and scientific empiricism are products of western civilization and thus are rooted in racism; (xi) the Commonwealth or the United States is fundamentally or systemically racist or sexist; or (xii) capitalism, free markets, free industry, and other related economic systems are inherently racist.
We could spend multiple blog posts discussing whether Williams understands CRT (he doesn’t) or the U.S. Constitution (he doesn’t). His comments about systemic racism are almost comical (if they weren’t so sad) coming from a Virginia legislator. Any beginning undergraduate history student knows that the colony of Virginia was built on systemic racism. (Read Edmund Morgan’s American Slavery-American Freedom for starters).
The bill then requires schools to incorporate several topics into their curriculums. Here is how one of those requirements is described:
The Board shall, in furtherance of the citizens skills portion of the 5 C’s in the Profile of a Virginia Graduate, incorporate into each relevant Standard of Learning and associated curriculum framework a requirement that each student demonstrate the understanding of: …
3. The founding documents of the United States, including the Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution, the Federalist Papers, including Essays 10 and 51, excerpts from Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, the first debate between Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, and the writings of the Founding Fathers of the United States.
It is going to be impossible for Virginia school teachers to incorporate the “first debate between Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass” into their curriculum because such a debate never happened. For the record, during the 1858 Illinois Senate race Lincoln debated incumbent Illinois Senator Stephen A. Douglas.
Good citizenship education begins with accurate facts.