FALLS CHURCH, Va. (AP) — Virginia’s largest school system scraps a test question given to a college-level social studies class that equated liberals and conservatives with specific racial and gender demographics.
The question appeared on a test given to students in an AP Government class on the Fairfax County Public Schools online campus.
The multiple-choice question asked the students, “Which of the following is an accurate comparison of liberals versus conservatives?”
The possible answers for “liberals” included “Young, white men;” “Middle-Aged, Urban Lesbian;” “College-educated black male professional” and “White, upper-middle class suburban male.”
The possible answers for “conservatives” included “East Coast, Ivy League educated scientists;” “Southern Male Migrant Worker;” “Middle-aged Catholic, Midwestern man” and “West Coast, Hispanic teacher.”
Rory Cooper, a Fairfax County parent and critic of the school system posted the question on Twittersaid it is offensive.
“It’s one thing for adults to analyze demographic trends,” he said. “It’s another thing to tell students that their identity determines their political philosophy.”
The school system said in a statement that the question will be removed from future tests because it “did not meet the division’s high expectations.” It also said that all test questions given to students in the AP Government Online Campus class will now be graded.
The statement said the question was “designed to assess 12th graders’ understanding of American political ideology.”
The test is part of an AP class, or Advanced Placement, that allows high school students to earn college credit if they score well on a final exam.
While the question was part of an AP class, it was not created by the College Board, which administers the AP program nationally.
In a tweet, the college board said the question “contradicts the content and format of an AP question.”
Virginia Lt. Gov. Winsome Earle-Sears also weighed in, criticizing the assumptions the question makes about who is liberal and who is conservative. She is often angry at outsiders’ political assumptions about black women that conflict with her stance as a conservative Republican and military veteran.
“Tests like this create division, low morale and fighting in our schools,” she wrote in a tweet.
The question is just the latest in a string of criticisms leveled at public educators. Conservative activists have questioned the curriculum which they say promotes progressive ideology over the basics of education.
The debate has been particularly intense in Virginia, where Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin has made education reform a priority and has sought to change the way schools treat transgender students. Earlier this year, Republican Attorney General Jason Miyares announced an investigation into the school system after reports that high schools withheld letters of praise about standardized tests from some students on the theory that it might be the feeling of students who failed them.