More Inclusion Urged in SOL Curriculums

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Dozens of parents and educators overall gave plaudits to proposed revisions of the Virginia Standards of Learning curriculums last night but argued that more-inclusive changes should be made to the final draft.

At a public hearing at Falls Church High School, some educators said the changes, which were released last month, do not include the contributions of minorities and omit what they called "key political figures" in Virginia's history.

Carla Garfield, a fourth-grade teacher at Columbia Elementary School in Annandale, told representatives of the state Board of Education she was surprised that Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee was not mentioned in the revisions.

"Lee was a major player in the Civil War history," she said. "He was commander of the army of Virginia. Why would you leave him out?"

Other educators, including Sara Shoob, a coordinator of social studies in Fairfax County, said she wanted to see more women and Hispanics mentioned in the fourth- through-12th-grade curriculum.

"Not one woman is mentioned by name above the third-grade level," she said.

Ms. Shoob also pointed out that the revisions do not mention the impact that westward expansion had on American Indians. "It makes you wonder," she said after the hearing.

A group of Armenian parents and students pushed for inclusion of the Armenian genocide in the early 20th century. They said it is as important a part of history as the Holocaust.

The Armenians made up close to half of the audience, and each spoke in support of including their history along with other cultures.

The comments come after a state Board of Education committee recommended rewriting the history curriculum from kindergarten to 12th grade. The proposed changes are designed to address concerns that the 1995 standards were too broad and failed to reflect cultural diversity.

For example, the 1995 history standards called for third-graders to study the civilizations of ancient Greece and Rome. The revisions would add, among other things, the early West African empire of Mali.

The proposed changes also would exclude the names of Confederate Gens. Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson and J.E.B. Stuart as well as Lee from fourth-grade discussions of the Civil War. The three most beloved political and military heroes would be taught in fifth grade, under the revision, so fourth-graders would get a "simplified" version of Virginia history, the committee said in issuing revisions to the state's Standards of Learning for History.

Some teachers last night wanted to know the criteria for omitting key political figures.

"How do you decide who to mention and who not to mention? …