Column: Inherently Divisive Concepts

Column: Inherently Divisive Concepts

Governor Glenn Youngkin started “day one” of his term by issuing Executive Order Number One within minutes of his inauguration, “Ending the use of inherently divisive concepts, including Critical Race Theory, and restoring excellence in K-12 public education in the Commonwealth.” With my graduate degree in education and 30 years of experience as a teacher and administrator, I have been anxiously waiting to learn more about “inherently divisive concepts” and “Critical Race Theory” and how it would affect education policy in the new administration. Last week my questions were answered in part when the Governor released the “Superintendent of Public Instruction’s Interim Report on Inherently Divisive Policies, Programs, Training and Curricula.” I do not find the answer to be satisfactory for public schools that must educate all children.

The State Superintendent defines “inherently divisive concepts” as advancing any ideas in violation of Title IV and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that codified the principles of equal protection and nondiscrimination found in the 14th Amendment. There is a convoluted logic in the State Superintendent’s report that suggests that laws that were passed to eliminate discrimination can be used to justify discrimination. Providing early intervention and remediation for children with special needs would be considered unlawful discrimination under the report’s definition.

For example the report recommends rescinding the Department of Education’s Culturally Responsive Website with an explanation that it ”generally promotes academic equity of outcomes versus equity of opportunities for all learners.” The report sounds like the responsibility of government as viewed by the writer is to offer opportunity, but without a responsibility to ensure that all can achieve.

In the recommendation to rescind the Navigating EdEquityVA website, the explanation is that it contains “Resources that permit and advance policies, programs, and activities that promote equitable outcomes for students versus opportunities.” Once again, the report seems to suggest that the obligation of government is to offer opportunities without a responsibility to see that all students can achieve under it. The elimination of these two websites that provide resources for teachers is the electronic equivalent of book burning.

A shocker for me is the recommendation that the Virginia Mathematics Pathways Initiative be rescinded. The program was designed to give more students access to higher math, and it is unclear why it is being rescinded. It looks like anything that deviates from schooling of the 1950s is likely to be sacked in the new administration.

I encourage anyone concerned that I might be too harsh in my criticism of the report to review it for yourself at and let me know your reaction at You can also let the Governor know your reaction to the report at his tip line