MOUNT VERNON, Va. — The historic estate of George Washington hosted a modern day debate over the subject of history in schools Tuesday - not just what to teach, but how.
An overflow crowd showed up to the Mount Vernon theater to let the Virginia state school board know how they feel about the latest draft of revisions to the Commonwealth's History and Social Science Standards of Learning - essentially guidelines and requirements for K-12 classrooms.
Critics say the new standards are politically motivated and accuse Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin's administration of minimizing the history of minority groups while promoting what they see as misplaced patriotism.
"Emphasizing the entrepreneurial spirit of Columbus at the expense of a real assessment of his, shall we say, other qualities," high school history teacher Jeff Keller, of Winchester, Virginia, asked the board.
One school board member told WUSA9 it's the criticism that's turned political.
And while most at the event were against the changes, a few did show up in support.
"Please don't accept input from doomsday naysayers," Richard Altmaier told the board. "Don't follow guidance (from) people pursuing grievance."
Some teachers also said they're concerned with the more than 100 new required topics to teach that could lead to 'flashcard learning' that won't teach students critical thinking.
"This heavy emphasis on coverage and memorization reduces my opportunity to engage students deep inquiry and meaning making," Keller told the board. "And, through this prescriptive approach it is nearly impossible for me to utilize local resources and experts. No visiting local sites."
No final decision on the draft revisions is expected until April.