AMAC Exclusive-By Seamus Brennan
Nearly six months out from what could be the most significant midterm victory for the GOP in more than a decade, common sense would suggest that Congressional Republicans would be more determined than ever to oppose unpopular progressive ideas like Critical Race Theory (CRT). But, perplexingly, one Republican senator is taking the opposite approach and playing directly into Democrats’ hands on the hot-button issue of education.
Rather than finding ways to fend off Democrats’ eagerness to impose CRT, gender ideology, and other progressive academic “theories” on children throughout the nation, Senator John Cornyn, the senior United States Senator for Texas, has instead opted to join progressive Democrats in paving the way for more leftism in education.
In March of 2021, as the national debate over CRT in schools was just heating up, Cornyn co-sponsored the “Civics Secures Democracy Act” (CSDA), a “bipartisan” legislative effort that would “support and expand access to civics and history education.” As benign and well-intentioned as the bill may appear on the surface, however, if passed, it could effectively mandate the teaching of CRT and other left-wing ideologies in American classrooms.
As Stanley Kurtz of National Review recently observed, CSDA is virtually equivalent to “Common Core 2.0” and would “set pro-CRT leftists up as the arbiters of a de facto national curriculum.” Kurtz proceeds to point out that the legislation is undergoing a revision process intended to make its provisions seem less radical and foreboding than they truly are. A draft version of a revised bill relies predominantly upon vague terms that would still leave wide open the possibility for leftists to exploit the bill to their advantage.
The revised draft directs the U.S. Department of Education, for instance, to prioritize grant proposals from entities that are “traditionally underserved”—including “underrepresented minorities.” The proposed draft would similarly compel the Secretary of Education to “close gaps in civic knowledge and achievement among traditionally underserved students.”
Though these provisions sound largely unobjectionable at first glance, the left has demonstrated time and time again that every time it invokes seemingly imprecise language like “traditionally underserved” or “gaps in civic knowledge,” it has very specific definitions for these terms in mind. As recent history clearly shows, the left’s manipulation of such language almost always incorporates historically revisionist accounts of the American founding, which paint the United States as a systemically racist country defined solely by its “oppression” of racial minorities.
Following the public release of the revised CSDA draft, the Civics Alliance, which is affiliated with the National Association of Scholars (NAS), published an open letter urging Congress to oppose the CSDA if it is formally introduced. “We want our message to Congress to come across loud and clear,” NAS wrote on its website in a recap of the letter. “We see the Civics Secures Democracy Act for what it is, and we will not let it go unchallenged.”
“In practice, the Civics Secures Democracy Act will enable the federal government to impose both Critical Race Theory and ‘Action Civics’—vocational training for ideologically partisan protest and lobbying—upon America’s schools,” the letter states. “Now that the teaching of ‘civics’ has been heavily politicized by the introduction of Critical Race Theory and Action Civics, it is more important than ever that the federal government remove itself from this arena and allow America’s states and localities to set their own education policies, particularly when it comes to standards and curriculum.”
The left’s well-documented ambitions to take over K-12 education with curricula like CRT, Kurtz indicates, cannot be fully comprehended without considering what he describes to be the “most influential book on the new civics”—Meira Levinson’s controversial No Citizen Left Behind. Kurtz writes that Levinson, whose book first introduced the concept of “gaps” in civic knowledge, believes that in order to “close” such gaps, we must “abandon the traditional view of American history.” For Levinson, Kurtz continues, this traditional view of history is rejected by large swaths of racial minorities, and therefore, it “must be abandoned.”
Because Levinson understands that the vast majority of Americans are unlikely to accept her civics reform plan, she has advocated for a so-called legislative “rhetorical tweaking.” This “tweaking,” Levinson hopes, would be convincing enough to mislead conservatives and moderates into supporting efforts along the lines of the CSDA. One can expect to see the latest instance of this “rhetorical tweaking” if a revised version of the CSDA is formally introduced.
“It’s tough to see what distinguishes Levinson’s understanding of civics from national suicide,” Kurtz continued. “Yet these are the views of today’s premier ‘expert’ on the ‘civic empowerment gap,’ a concept that may soon be written into federal law.”
Why, therefore, would any Republican senator greenlight legislation that would permit Joe Biden and Congressional Democrats to nationalize the teaching of CRT, smear their country as systemically racist, and redefine the meaning of civics altogether? What reason is there to believe that this project and others like it will yield anything other than more CRT, more race essentialism, and more flawed and divisive retellings of the American founding? Cornyn was wrong to sponsor the original CSDA bill, and he or any other Republican would be making a terrible mistake if they were to introduce an ostensibly new and improved CSDA that was nevertheless filled with bogus revisions—even as they claim that the problems had been fixed.
Republicans stand on the cusp of a potential midterm victory that would enable them to stop the CRT and progressive “equity” agendas from advancing any further at the federal level. But, as Cornyn may soon come to realize, Republican voters are unlikely to reward their party if its own members are the ones responsible for advancing such policies.
If conservatives are serious about stopping CRT, they should urge Senator Cornyn to revoke his co-sponsorship of the original CSDA altogether, disavow its new “revisions,” and ultimately commit to preventing the spread of CRT, gender ideology, and other far-left academic theories at every level of government—even in spite of any “rhetorical tweaking” efforts that the left may make.
In what looks to be a promising year for Republican Party, anything else would amount to political self-destruction.