Days after Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin slammed a proposal developed under his predecessor that would remove the title “Father of His Country” from a state curriculum of George Washington, the Republican governor dove deeper into the controversy, taking exception with proposals to remove Benjamin Franklin from the state history curriculum.
Nick Minock with WJLA writes:
7News was the first to reveal that references to George Washington as “the father of our country” and James Madison as the “father of the Constitution” were struck from proposed history curriculum standards. Also, the word “succession” was used instead of “secession” – twice – in the proposal.
“The previous [Northam] administration had appointed all of the folks on those committees, we see not just mistakes but errors in this aspiration to have a history and social sciences curriculum that teaches all history, the good and the bad, and in fact, accurately reflects it,” Youngkin told 7News. “And for the father of our country, George Washington, to no longer be called the father of our country, and for the father of our Constitution, James Madison to no longer be called the father of our Constitution are just two small glaring errors that are going to have to be fixed. So I was very pleased. I was pleased that the State Board of Education stepped back, granted additional time for further review before these most important history curriculum standards are released for public comment. We’re doing our work. That’s why Virginians granted us the license to lead last year. We are in fact going to do the work and make sure that we have the best history curriculum in the nation.”
Unsurprisingly, the Northam-era bureaucrats who proposed the changes are defending moves to delete Washington and Franklin from the state history curriculum as necessary in order to amplify other voices:
“They have the Fordham Institute, which is a conservative think tank, which doesn’t have expertise in history,” said former Virginia Secretary of Education Atif Qarni. “So it makes me nervous because I’ve seen their work in the past which, you know, there’s philosophical differences there. I’ve also seen Governor Youngkin’s rhetoric about CRT and equity and diversity and inclusion and so that’s why it really makes me nervous. That’s why I do feel from my observations that there is a resistance to really to teach a full honest history especially of black and brown voices.
Qarni is presently the managing director of external affairs for Hope4College, a project of Temple University.