Virginia’s History and Social Studies Seven-Year Textbook Review

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SOLsBy Jane Hogan

How many parents and citizens know that Feb. 10 was the kick-off for the seven-year textbook review cycle for History and Social Studies Textbook adoptions by the state?

And if they know, how many are concerned?

I know I am as a neighbor’s friend, when I hear her 12-year-old daughter thinking that in colonial Jamestown the indentured servants were treated more severely than their counterparts in merry old England. Or when her 15-year-old son tells me that Muslims believe in Allah, the same God that Jews and Christians worship. “They read these things in the textbooks chosen by their local schools, yet there is little in teacher resources to counter these beliefs.

The seven-year selection cycle is controlled by the Virginia Administrative Code of the Board of Education. It starts with the Virginia Department of Education doing a curriculum review in two steps. First is the statutory review of the SOLs and then the SOL Frameworks, one at a time with public comment periods for each.  There is also an administrative review of the actual lesson resources for teachers called the Enhanced Scope and Sequence.

The textbook publishers aren’t even involved until after the SOL and Framework revisions are finalized by the Board of Education. Then proposals go out asking them to submit books that meet our Virginia requirements. Publishers must agree to correct any factual errors at their own expense if they want Virginia to buy their books.

Believe it or not, we’re about three years away from publisher submissions! The SOL and Frameworks statutory procedures and approvals take at least two years.

That’s why the time to help our children is NOW. Parents and concerned citizens can scurry to the Virginia Department of Education’s website to download the SOLs’ for their favorite history and then submit their comments. They will be read. By law they have to be, first by Christine Harris and Christonya Brown and their staff in the Department of Instruction, and then by the members of the Board of Education.

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Click here to download any SOL and click here to add a comment.

The buck doesn’t end here either, because the 135 local school boards are NOT on the same seven-year schedule as the state department.

They write their own curriculum, their own teacher guidelines and their own sample tests. What they do or don’t use from the department is up to them. When they want to adopt new “books,” whether those from the department list or anywhere else (books, online curriculum, bundles of lessons, etc.) they must go through the same type of public inspection, comment and hearings as mandated for the Department of Education. The new law requiring them to develop guidelines for these procedures takes effect in March.

Citizens as well as parents may see the materials considered for local purchase. The time is now to ask the superintendent’s office for a written copy of the Textbook Selection Criteria and Citizen Participation Guidelines, pursuant to the new law.

Local considerations aside, the time is juicy and ripe to comment on the History SOLs undergoing department review. The comment period ends March 10th! Need any more be said?

Jane Hogan
Publisher | Eye on Virginia Education

Eye on Virginia Education (EVE) is a coalition of citizens, parents, teachers and public servants that promotes the accurate teaching of the Constitution and our American Heritage. Its members support legislation to prevent the nationalization of education, to protect student privacy and to remove propaganda from teaching.

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