VA teachers are going to be assessed on ‘cultural competency.’ What does that mean?

By: | April 2, 2021

Virginia legislators passed a bill this year that mandates African American history training for many teachers and sets new inclusivity standards for educators.

The state has long grappled with outdated and omissive curricula that — in many cases — mischaracterize important moments in African American history, experts say. But a nearly year-long review by the commission found that many teachers also struggle to incorporate Black history in the classroom.

“In Virginia, teachers have been criticized for questionable activities meant to teach African American history and engage around difficult topics,” the commission’s final report reads. In some cases, those have included a mock slave auction or asking Black students to pretend to pick cotton. Experts say many educators lack the training and cultural knowledge to sensitively approach difficult topics or tie diverse perspectives and learning materials into their classroom curriculum.

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