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David Fauth, who is seeking the Aquia District seat on the Stafford County School Board, is a sales engineer for a database management company.

The teaching of U.S. history and civics in Virginia’s public schools got a B+ or a “Good” grade, according to “The State of State Standards for Civics and U.S. History in 2021,” an analysis released Wednesday by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute that rated the curriculums of all 50 states and the District of Columbia. But even a “Good” grade in the Home of Presidents is not quite good enough.

Garrison Keillor’s weekly assertion on “A Prairie Home Companion” that all the children living in the fictional of Lake Wobegon were "above average" was a gentle poke at American parents’ belief that all their offspring are special. It was not meant to be a blueprint for school systems in the real world.

In public schools, where history and social studies classes are mandatory, they must be taught as completely as possible – and include the nuances that ideological purists reject. The current volatile culture war in the U.S., where historical facts and figures are being used by some people to push a narrative that is just as one-sided as the one they seek to replace, makes this task more difficult. But this is precisely why besides educators, parents, historians and taxpayers need to weigh in on what should be included in the newly revised history and social studies SOLs, which will be finalized by November 2022.

It will be tempting for school divisions throughout the commonwealth to use this hiatus in standardized testing to “dumb down” their local assessments in order to report better scores for the 2020-21 school year. But that would be a bad idea.

There are still a lot of unanswered questions about how long this hybrid model of education will continue, and what its impact will be on students, parents and teachers. Nobody knows for sure how this experiment in education will turn out. However, what we do know is that the glaring deficiencies of all-virtual learning for some students makes it worth taking the risks involved. 

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