I am in my fortieth year of service representing the 36th District in the Virginia House of Delegates. I am a retired teacher and school administrator, having been employed by the Fairfax County Public Schools for nearly 30 years. Serving as your delegate is now my full-time focus.

This website is intended to assist us in communicating with each other. I hope that you will subscribe to my electronic newsletter, Virginia e-News, that is emailed every Wednesday. Each week I share my thoughts on a pressing issue or human interest item in the form of a commentary. Read this week’s commentary below. In the newsletter you’ll also find a bulletin board of local information and a calendar of events happening in our community.

Please let me hear from you on your needs and interests. I am honored to represent you and here to serve you as effectively as I can.

Ken Plum.

Delegate Ken Plum’s Commentary

One Plus One May Not Equal Two

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One plus one equaling two is about as basic as one can get in understanding arithmetic. In the current day, parental-rights, children-protectors, textbook-reviewers are challenging many basic concepts that we thought we understood about mathematics and other subjects in the kindergarten to twelfth-grade school curriculum as expressed in the textbooks that are used in the classroom.

If 1+1=2 is expressed as a word problem in a textbook, the book may be thrown out for the implications it might suggest. For example, if the problem is expressed as one man or one woman plus one man or one woman equals two men or two women, it may suggest in the minds of some of the reviewers that there is a same sex suggestion inherit within the problem that would be inappropriate for young children to know or to learn about. If the word problem is one man plus one woman equals a couple, there should be an explanation that couples are married so as to not promote promiscuity. If a textbook writer posed that one black person plus one white person equals two friends the question could be viewed as a divisive problem that is getting too close to being an introduction to Critical Race Theory!

These examples are extreme ones that I have created to make the point that in states like Virginia and Florida the extremists are attempting to dictate school curriculum and materials to meet standards that most educated people will find unbelievable. In Virginia, Governor Glenn Youngkin issued an Executive Order “on Day One to end the use of inherently divisive concepts, including Critical Race Theory.” In Florida, state education officials announced last month that 54 of the 132 math textbooks on its adoption list—most of them elementary level—did not make the cut. Some of the books did not align with state content standards, called the Benchmarks for Excellent Student Thinking—or BEST—or they included “prohibited topics” and “unsolicited strategies,” such as Critical Race Theory (CRT), officials said. Since they provided few specific examples, I imagined the examples I gave above. After all, who gets to decide what are “divisive concepts”?

In Virginia where Governor Youngkin seems to be trying to edge out Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis as ultra-conservative governor of the year, the Governor has included the new mathematics curriculum adopted by the Board of Education as being unacceptable for it violates his promise to take divisive materials from the curriculum and certainly Critical Race Theory. Since the Governor has not been able to offer any specific examples of his concerns, it is left to me and others to speculate what he has in mind other than to build on discontent by a small number of parents and to score political points.

I hope that others will come to the rescue of these two governors and show us how their political rhetoric will be carried out in practice and that my wild examples are not part of what they have in mind.

Previous commentaries are available here.