AMAC Exclusive – By Claire Brighn
Just before Christmas, the Democrat-led Congress passed a $1.7 trillion omnibus spending package that included $20 million for “Civics National Activities” grants – a seemingly benign budgetary measure that actually represents the latest attempt by left-wing activists to force Critical Race Theory (CRT) and “protest civics” into schools throughout the country.
While parents and state and local governments have made progress in getting Critical Race Theory (CRT) and other political agendas out of K-12 classrooms, the liberal crusade to hijack the American education system is far from over.
The “Civics National Activities” grant program has been up and running since 2017, but the spending bill passed last year provides a more than fourfold increase from 2021. Even a cursory dive into the successful proposals posted on the Department of Education webpage “American History and Civics-National Activities Grants” provides clear evidence that taxpayer dollars are indeed funding leftist ideology in America’s schools.
In 2022, for example, Purdue University was granted more than $1.3 million for a proposal that emphasized “culturally relevant digital civics instructions” that lean into leftist ideas like “understanding and addressing systemic inequities” and “highlight[ing] historical grand challenges.” The grant specifically targets the learning of “middle and/or high school students.”
Also last year, the National Council for History Education (NCHE) received nearly $1.4 million for its “Equality and Power in Civics and Histories” project, with a goal of “expanding the American narrative through a recognition of diverse and evolving histories” – liberal doublespeak for eviscerating the legacy of the founders and castigating America as an irredeemably racist nation. NCHE has also previously used federal grant dollars to hold a summit “in pursuit of equity” – the leftist term that holds that schools and other institutions should strive for equality of outcome, rather than equality of opportunity.
In 2021, Street Law Inc was awarded more than $1.1 million for a project titled “Talking About Local Current and Contested Issues in Schools (TALCCS),” with the stated “goal of this project…to ensure an increased frequency in discussions and deliberations around contested and current issues in Maryland classrooms and communities, with particular focus on serving diverse and under-resourced areas.” Over three years, the project aims to reach more than 36,000 elementary, middle, and high schoolers.
One of the primary left-wing special interest groups who pushed for the $20 million in grants to be included in the spending bill last year was iCivics, which has been one of the foremost organizations in the country in infusing woke curriculum in American schools. Shawn Healy, the policy leader at iCivics, even penned an op-ed taking a victory lap over the funding. He claims that money for the competitive grant program will “improv[e] teaching and learning about the history and principles of the Constitution of the United States,” specifically making the case that the grant program is not ideological.
But as AMAC Newsline has previously reported, iCivics is a left-wing activist organization, and Healy himself is a committed leftist. As far back as 2018, iCivics was replacing “the highly regarded Massachusetts K-12 standards on the history of America, the West, and the world while putting oppression-obsessed curriculum standards in their place.” iCivics staffers have also exclusively donated to Democrat politicians and bankrolled the campaigns of Bernie Sanders, Stacey Abrams, and Joe Biden.
The lesson plans and curriculum that iCivics provides to teachers and schools are also transparently political and far removed from the traditional version of history and civics that most Americans grew up with. iCivics has, for instance, openly promoted the idea that America is “systemically racist” and advocated for students to be “anti-racist” – two hallmarks of Critical Race Theory. Healy himself has counted the repeatedly debunked 1619 Project as a “highly reputable source” teachers should use in the classroom to address controversial topics like racism and slavery.
Aside from advancing their ideological interests, Healy and iCivics also stand to receive a huge financial windfall from the Civics National Activities and similar grant programs. In 2021, the Department of Defense awarded the organization $2 million to peddle their leftist curriculum to students in the military’s K-12 education program. Last January, the National Endowment for the Humanities also awarded iCivics $400,000 to create a “unique, game-based experience” called “Supreme Justice.” While the organization is technically a non-profit, its members and contractors still stand to gain financially from such lucrative grant awards.
Healy has also expressed hope that the recent funding boost for the Civics National Activities grant pot will “lead to further action in the near future,” saying that “now the real work begins.” In all likelihood, he is referring to the so-called “Civics Secures Democracy Act” (CSDA) which has been introduced in Congress but has failed to pass the last two years. As a chorus of critics including the likes of Donald Trump, Newt Gingrich, and Laura Ingraham have warned, the CSDA would essentially be a $6 billion slush fund for liberal education groups such as iCivics.
With Republicans now in control of the House, it should be within their power to stop the passage of such a bill. But Democrats and Healy have previously been able to dupe some Republicans into supporting the CSDA. Conservatives must remain vigilant to ensure that their hard-won gains in education are not lost.
Claire Brighn is the pen name of a conservative researcher and writer with previous domestic and foreign policy experience in the Executive Branch.
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