Conservatives Wary of Bill to Increase Civics and History Lessons in US Schools

3 days ago

Critics Worry Bipartisan Civics Secures Democracy Act will Promote Leftist Agenda

The lessons taught to children today are the values we will live in our future when they run the world. That is why there is an intense battle in U.S. schools over who gets to determine the curriculum.

Schools have veered beyond the classic core subjects of reading, writing, and arithmetic and moved into teaching values; topics that, until recently, were reserved for parents. There are countless examples of schools teaching critical race theory, gender and sexual identity, myopic politics, and religion.

Using civic engagement—attending school board meetings and organizing with others—parents have demanded that schools remove teachings that are outside their values.

Now a bipartisan congressional bill says it aims to teach students more about U.S. civics, the Civics Secures Democracy Act, but it has some concerned that it will enable the government to guide curriculum in a direction that parents don’t support, and ultimately indoctrinate students into leftist causes.

The bill spends $1 billion a year and authorizes the Department of Education to award grants to states, nonprofit organizations, institutions of higher education, and qualified researchers to support and expand access to civics and history education. The bill is co-sponsored by U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), and John Cornyn (R-Texas).

The measure will “help states close key gaps in students’ history and civics educations,” a statement from Cassidy explained. “Only nine states and the District of Columbia require a full year of civics or government studies, and 10 states have no requirement at all. At the same time, American trust in public institutions is near all-time lows.”

Defining Civics

Civics Secures Democracy was initially introduced last, but it has been rewritten.

“The trouble is, when education professionals say civics, what they actually mean is ‘action civics’ with vocational training in progressive activism, in the classroom. You know, action civics—protest civics,” David Randall told The Epoch Times. Randall is director of research at of the National Association of Scholars and Education Director at the Civics Alliance, which seeks to reform education by supporting intellectual freedom, truth, and virtuous citizenship. These groups oppose the act.

“Also, when they say history, what they frequently mean is something like the 1619 Project or other things which are sort of radically opposed to America history, to justify radical activism, not to present an open, pluralistic view of the American interpretation of American history.”

Randall says the bill failed to fly last year because it was obvious what was going to happen.

“It was re-introduced this year with cosmetic changes … and they’re trying to claim [it] doesn’t form curriculum,” Randall said, adding that every bureaucrat competing for funds knows what is wanted from Washington, and will include those agenda items in their applications. “Even the people who want the best (curriculum) will act in worse ways. The other part of it is this bit about not forming curriculum … because these standards are then shaping the curriculum at the local level. The precise precedent is the Common Core because the Common Core likewise disclaimed to be shaping curriculum. The incentive had an enormous power to shape curriculum. This is in effect. The radical, anti-civic, Common Core.”

He calls it anti-civic because a civic education ought to teach students to cherish liberty, to cherish their republic, to love their fellow Americans, and to treat every one of their fellow Americans as equal individuals who mean well by one another. Randall says the 1619 Project and critical race theory teach the opposite of civics.

California Students walk to their classrooms at a public middle school in Los A...
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