Beware the Social Studies Curriculum — Part 2

Documents obtained under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act reveal a disturbing ideological bias in the social studies curricula of Fairfax County public high schools (FCPS).

The first article on this subject, which is HEREdiscloses that after the current School Board took office in 2020, the curricula were extensively revised to view history and government through the lens of the students’ “identities” (race, ethnicity, gender, etc.) and to emphasize the concepts of power, privilege, position and bias in explaining historical events and civic institutions.  This article examines the curriculum for one  course — 11th grade U.S. History — to illustrate in greater detail how one-sided and divisive the courses have become.

Units 1 & 2: “Exploring Identity” and “Why and How We Study History and the Social Sciences”

The curriculum guide for the U.S. History course (HERE) directs that the first two weeks be devoted to “student identity” and “why and how social studies courses are taught.”

The syllabus for the “Exploring Identity” segment (HERE) states that 2-5 sessions should be used to train students to ask themselves:  “How do our identities impact the way we understand the world around us and the experiences of others?  In what way have environmental factors (systems, structures, institutions, etc.) shaped our identities and beliefs?  How can I, as a student, use an understanding of identity to inform my work in this class?”  An additional 2-5 sessions are to be devoted to “Why and How We Study History and the Social Sciences.”  The unit guide for this segment is HERE.  The purpose is to teach thinking skills, “with an emphasis on the concepts of power, position, bias and agency, and apply them to their learning regarding their identities, communities, states, the nation, and the world.” (Emphasis in original)

Thus, prior to delving into the facts about U.S. history, students are trained  (1) to view the world around them from the perspective of how they differ from others in terms of immutable characteristics (their race, ethnicity, gender, etc.) and (2) to interpret history as an exercise in self-interested power by those who hold positions of authority.

Unit 3:  “Early America: Settlement and Colonization”

This first substantive segment of the course demonstrates how shockingly one-sided social studies have become in FCPS.  The unit guide is HERE.  Please read it for yourself.  The entire focus is on slavery and other injustices. 

The points to be taught include: All the colonies established slavery; the economies of both the North and the South were based on an enslaved labor force; English colonists adapted their laws, culture and religion to accommodate slavery; conversion of slaves to Christianity did not free them from bondage; English colonization and enslavement were parts of a system of domination across the Atlantic world; private property rights were respected in the colonies, but this was guided by racism, and it included enslavement of human beings as private property; the middle colonies were more religiously tolerant and had more flexible social structures, but for African Americans and Native Americans, the environment included slavery and racial intolerance.

Slavery and other injustices are an important part of America’s early history, but are they the only theme, or even the predominant one?  Nowhere in this syllabus is there any discussion of why European emigrants came here or of the positive values they brought with them, such as a desire for religious, economic and political freedom.  Nor is there a mention of how the charters, governments and early histories of the various colonies differed.  Or the relationship between the local and English governments.  Or the development of democratic institutions in the colonies.  Or the fact that slavery was condemned and actively opposed by many.

Equally disturbing are the “essential questions” teachers are supposed to raise with students during this unit.  One is:  “How does learning about settlement and colonization impact your understanding of yourself, your lived experiences, a concept, a UN sustainable development goal, or a contemporary world issue/event?”  After having taught the students that the events were driven by “power and position” and that the “identity” of today’s teens has been affected by the early historical events, and after ignoring almost everything other than slavery in teaching about the period, the curriculum developers obviously expect students to respond that slavery is affecting them today.  In asking a question like this at the beginning of a history course, before any teaching about contemporary history (civil rights laws, affirmative action programs, changed attitudes in society, educational and economic opportunities, etc.), the course developers are leading students to a particular, biased, controversial point of view:  Injustices of the past have produced today’s “victims” and today’s “privileged class.”

Units 4 to 14: Revolution to 21st Century

For the sake of brevity, this article does not discuss each of the other units of the U.S. History course in detail.  The unit guides are linked below so readers can see for themselves what teachers are being advised to emphasize.  As you will see, the themes of “identity,” “power,” “position,” “privilege,” “bias,” and “injustice” permeate every segment of the course.  Negative aspects of our history are stressed; positive events and progress are given short shrift; and students are constantly asked to reflect on how our history of injustice affects their “identities” today.  Learning the facts is downplayed in favor of treating the course as a year-long indoctrination session in privilege and victimhood.

A few examples:

  • The guide for the “Revolution and the New Nation” segment only mentions the events leading to the revolution in general terms.  It doesn’t mention America’s leaders or their roles at all; it cites the Declaration of Independence only because of its assertion that slavery was the fault of the British, rather than Americans; and it doesn’t discuss the war itself (except for the fact that many slaves fought on the British side).  It doesn’t  mention the Articles of Confederation or delve into why that form of government failed.  It refers to the Constitution only briefly, and the stress there is on the provision that treated slaves as three-fifths of a person.  It doesn’t discuss the presidencies of Washington or Adams, or the controversies during that time concerning the proper role of the federal government, or the rise of incipient political parties.
  • The “Early National Period and Westward Expansion” unit focuses almost entirely on injustices: slavery and the events leading to the Civil War; injustices to Native Americans; and inequality of women under the law.  Many important events during this period aren’t  mentioned in the syllabus (e.g., the Louisiana Purchase; foreign policy issues and the War of 1812), and other events are cited mainly to stress their relationship to slavery or other injustices.
  • The purpose of the “Industrialization and Immigration” segment is to “apply social science skills to understand the experiences of immigrants, developments of the Progressive Movement, the impact of prejudice and discrimination (including Jim Crow laws), and the practice of eugenics in Virginia with an emphasis on the concepts of power, position and agency.  Students will respond to diversity by building empathy, respect, understanding and connection.  Students will recognize that power and privilege influence relationships on interpersonal, intergroup and institutional levels and consider how they have been affected by those dynamics.”  Also, “students will analyze reforms to understand who benefited and who was harmed or left out,” and “will explain and evaluate the resistance to Jim Crow and the goals of major Black thinkers and activists of the period.  Further, students will understand that racism and xenophobia were not regional phenomena and occurred across the US.”
  • The guides for the “Civil Rights & American Identity” unit and the “US in the 21st Century” unit touch upon the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, but there is no mention of the effect of these Acts and/or other legislation on the issues of privilege, bias, injustice and inequality.  The legal and social landscape has changed dramatically in the 60+ years since the 1950s, but this is downplayed or ignored in the syllabus.  Attitudes have changed significantly in both the North and the South.  Billions, probably trillions, have been spent in addressing poverty and educational gaps, and their causes.  Affirmative action programs, both public and private, have helped to create a vibrant middle class in minority communities.   Almost everyone today supports equality of opportunity, and the percentage of Americans who can justly be accused of being racists is tiny in comparison to the earlier periods covered by the U.S. History course.  Why aren’t these facts stressed in the curriculum guides?  Why aren’t the students asked to reflect on these facts in their assessment of their “identities”?


The School Board and its administrators have hijacked the social studies curricula to advance ideological goals.  Students are being taught, both directly and by implication, that the dominant theme of our history and institutions is injustice.   Patriotism is not supported.  Positive facts are ignored or downplayed.  Students are misled into thinking that our past history makes them victims.

How many citizens of Fairfax County realize this is how history is being taught today in our public schools?  My bet is that few do, and that the vast majority of citizens, regardless of party affiliation, would not support this one-sided, negative, ideologically-driven program if they were aware of the facts.  But the current School Board fully supports the current social studies curricula.  Nothing will change unless the citizens of Fairfax County elect a new School Board in November that is committed to education, not indoctrination.  Please share this information with your family, friends and neighbors.

Links to the curriculum guides for the 11th grade U.S. History course are in the text above, and here.

Guide for “Revolution & the New Nation.”  “Early National Period & Westward Expansion.”  “The Civil War and Reconstruction.”  “Industrialization and Immigration.”  “Overseas Imperialism an World War I.”  “Great Depression & the New Deal.”  “World War II.”  “Teaching About the Holocaust.”  “The Cold War.”  “Civil Rights & American Identity.”  “The US in the 21st Century.”

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  1. Paulette Altmaier on September 10, 2023 at 4:21 pm

    Thanks for your hard work on this.

  2. Karen Quiner on September 10, 2023 at 5:00 pm

    Quite disturbing. My fear is that even if we get a sensible administration in 2024, and even again in 2028, that the next generation of kids are going to be so brainwashed that our country is doomed. I have to keep the faith.

    Thanks for your good work. Keep it up.

  3. Jason on September 10, 2023 at 9:25 pm

    Excellent synopsis of a disturbing and insidious move to create a new generation of activists and victims (who are largely ignorant of history, if they rely on FCPS for their understanding of it).

    Has anyone discovered the sources of these lessons? Poking around the curriculum, I came across an organisation called “facing history” ( It looks like their mission is to serve up lesson plans to teachers that skew all of history through the lens of race and power. It’s not credible source material for high school history . . . but I guess that’s the whole point.

    Keep up the good work.

  4. Steve Quiner on September 11, 2023 at 6:53 pm

    You are the true public servant, illuminating the harm these do-gooders are doing to our children. Proficiency scores are declining, but victimization is increasing. That’s going to really help our kids in the real world, isn’t it.

    • Mark Spooner on September 11, 2023 at 9:30 pm

      Your comment is right on the money, Mr. Quiner.