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Teachers collaborate on Virginia social studies curriculum with anti-racist focus

A group of social studies teachers in Virginia created a new curriculum for students with a focus on teaching diverse perspectives, and it could be taught in the 3rd, 4th, 6th, 7th and 11th grades as early as this fall.

Teachers from Virginia’s largest school system — Fairfax County Public Schools — collaborated with teachers from five other Virginia school districts to create the curriculum that they say is anti-racist and culturally-responsive.

It would help students “critically examine materials, events, and institutions for bias, identity, and multiple perspectives,” according to a Fairfax County Public Schools news release.

The Fairfax County teachers started working with teachers in Albemarle County, Virginia Beach City and Charlottesville in 2018. Madison County and Powhatan County teachers then joined the effort to come up with a statewide curriculum, beginning with a focus on fourth grade Virginia Studies.

In 2019, about 70 teachers collaborated with museums and historic sites to further develop a curriculum that would “encourage students to engage in critical inquiry, gathering information from a variety of perspectives, ultimately resulting in well-reasoned analysis and understanding.”

“In addition to our work with the Virginia Inquiry Collaborative, FCPS Social Studies has undertaken significant curriculum revisions and professional development over the last 18 months to address the overrepresentation of white and Eurocentric history and the lack of diverse perspectives in social studies courses,” said FCPS Social Studies coordinator Colleen Eddy.

“This is particularly true on our U.S. history courses in which African American history deserves a truer and fuller account.”

The curriculum is currently under review by the Governor’s Commission on African American History Education and could be revised in 2022.

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