WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (AP) — A local school board in Virginia has decided not to purchase new social studies textbooks due to concerns from some citizens that one of the books promotes “divisive teachings,” including critical race theory.
The Williamsburg-James City County School Board voted 4-3 on Tuesday not to purchase the books, The Virginian-Pilot reported.
Board Chairman Greg Dowell said he found nothing wrong with the book’s overall content. But he said he couldn’t vote ‘yes’ because of the controversy surrounding it and the possibility it could cause further ‘community division’.
“We are coming out of a period of discord in our community and our country, and it is gripping us all,” Dowell said.
The textbook of interest to us is “Government in America: People, Politics and Policy,” which is often taught in advanced government and politics classes. It examines current events and public policy, while offering examples of political unrest.
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A citizen present at Tuesday’s board meeting claimed the book was biased and left-wing. Another said the cover photo was a form of indoctrination. The photo shows a protest outside the United States Capitol with signs reading ‘Silence is violence’, ‘No justice, no peace’ and ‘Stop killing black people’.
Critical race theory is a way of thinking about American history through the prism of racism. There is little evidence that it is taught to public school students from K-12, although some key ideas, such as the lingering consequences of slavery, have been.
The proposed textbooks met state education standards and were approved by the state department of education. Voting means that students will have to use textbooks that are at least 12 years old.
Kyra Cook, a member of the board of directors, had voted in favor of the purchase of the textbooks.
“I think we’ve deprived our children of new textbooks and deprived our teachers of the ability to use new materials,” she said. “Our staff followed a rigorous process and identified opportunities for improvement.”
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