BEDFORD COUNTY, Va. (WFXR)– On Thursday, Bedford County Public Schools held its school board meeting to discuss possible changes to teaching Critical Race Theory in schools.

Community members, parents, teachers, and concerned citizens joined the meeting to share their feelings on adding more African American History in the curriculum on Thursday, July 8.

The overall goal for Dr. Karen Woodford, Chief Learning Officer, is to change the language surrounding African American History in schools by adding new elective courses.

Woodford says for elementary schools they want to begin to change the language around historical figures like Martin Luther King, Jr.

She quotes studies showing kids using softer language when talking about race in the classrooms. For example, topics on slavery have been accidentally seen as a positive thing in history for second graders.

Students in High School will begin to see elective courses on more racial subjects that are sometimes missed out of the curriculum.

However, many parents and board members had some concerns about pushing this into classrooms.

“It’s unreviewed by the public. It needs to be reviewed by parents and by regular citizens. Mr. John Austin there stated that it’s up to the teachers and BCPS to decide the teaching and the curriculum. But he forgot the major and primary responsibility is the parents,” said David Beauregard, concerned citizen and parent.

Jason Johnson, Chairman of the Bedford County School Board, says his concern is not acknowledging the progress the schools have made.

“It’s the acknowledgment of the progress we have made and the system that our founders gave us has the mechanism by which we can continue to improve and evolve,” said Johnson.

Johnson did say that there is always room for improvement, but he wants to make sure they are creating an inclusive environment for all teachers, students, and parents.

Other concerned parents and citizens say that the system is over stepping their boundaries and that they are worried for their children because they feel like they are being left out of the conversation of education.

Johnson says, starting next year, teachers will have culturally responsive training as part of their evaluations. They also will be adding an African American elective this fall. That course’s content will be discussed among teachers and the Bedford County community.

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