Written By: Joshua Charles
Radical Leftism is coming to a school near you under the guise of revamped “civics education.”
But this isn’t the civics of our parents and grandparents. In fact, it’s not like anything prior generations of Americans would recognize as education.
This leftist brand of civics goes by a number of nice-sounding names–terms like “Action Civics,” “New Civics,” “Project-Based Civics,” and even “Civic Engagement.” While you may be tempted to think these describe a good thing—namely, a renewal of civics education in our children’s schools—they are in fact a cloak that is being used to insert leftist indoctrination straight into the school curriculum.
One of the unsung accomplishments of the Trump Administration was the release by a presidential commission of what has come to be known as The 1776 Report, a rousing defense of American history and heritage. The 1776 Report described the left-wing push for “civics” education this way:
New Civics uses direct community service and political action (such as protesting for gun control or lobbying for laws to address climate change) to teach students to bring change to the system itself. Under this guise, civics education becomes less about teaching civic knowledge and more about encouraging contemporary policy positions.
As this description suggests, the basic goal of these left-wing civics programs is to replace learning with activism. The ideal student outcome is not an informed citizen, but an ideological pawn ready to organize on behalf of leftist causes. This approach received tacit federal support under President Obama in 2012 with the release of a White House report called “A Crucible Moment: College Learning and Democracy’s Future.”
The report offered a vision for the future of education, in which institutions focused not on teaching young people to love and understand their own country, but to school them in left-wing dogma regarding “inequality,” “sustainability,” and “global citizenship.” None of these concepts have anything to do with the history or nature of the American system, which is supposed to be the purpose of civics education.
Not only does “Action Civics” fail to teach actual civics, but the “values” it promotes will not be your values, and they will not be American values. They will be the values of the extreme left, which seeks to remake the world in the image of the so-called “woke.” As such, this radical break with traditional civics education is a grave threat to the American Experiment which we must confront head-on.
To understand why, we can look back to the wisdom of a now-famous Frenchman, Alexis de Tocqueville. Tocqueville came to visit the United States in the 1830s to figure out what made America tick. His famous work, Democracy in America, was the result of that visit. Tocqueville recognized that the American Constitution was not a simple document. Rather, it incorporated a variety of critical features, namely a mixed government that includes elements of monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy. With this in mind, Toqueville observed that the U.S. Constitution relies on ordinary American citizens being well-educated in true civics, and devoted to rational thinking.
In other words, he observed that for our constitutional system to work, the citizenry must be knowledgeable. They must be taught how America works, why it works, and what its underlying principles are. If modern schools choose to begin “education” with activism, they skip this all-important step, and instead prepare young people to be unthinking political tools rather than informed citizens.
Genuine civics should first teach rising generations why our Constitution is designed the way it is. Our Founders were among the most well-educated generations in human history. They read widely, and learned many lessons from the histories of Greece, Rome, and Europe. They incorporated these lessons into our constitutional framework. Understanding those lessons, and how they informed our system, is vital to any genuine civics education.
From there, true civics education should teach young people how our system actually functions. What are the powers of each branch? What are their limits? How have those evolved over the last two centuries? How does our system distribute sovereignty?
Only once young people understand and appreciate these fundamentals can they assume their proper role responsibilities as educated citizens. But “Action Civics” reverses this. It takes young, uninformed minds, preys on their idealism, and transforms them into foot soldiers for leftist causes. All the while, they are left ignorant of their country, and taught to despise what makes it unique.
Such mis-education not only fails to instill a sense of patriotism in the young, it amounts to outright indoctrination. Why would future generations ever defend or preserve a nation they have been taught is evil?
In the words of Montesquieu, another famous French philosopher–one deeply admired by our founders–“It is not young people who degenerate; they are ruined only when grown men have already been corrupted.”
With the help of several Republican co-sponsors, Democrats are trying to make this corruption of the young permanent with their recent introduction of the Civics Secures Democracy Act.
This cannot be allowed to happen. This will be the subject of ongoing reporting in the days and weeks ahead.
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