Students at hundreds of colleges and universities are being systematically indoctrinated into the “New Civics” of social justice activism, according to a report released this past week by the National Association of Scholars.
The report’s findings suggest that the suppression of free speech on college campuses that is making headlines is only the tip of a very large iceberg. What lies beneath the surface is a massive, publicly funded program of indoctrination through a remaking of the curriculum as a vehicle for advancing the political agenda of progressivism.
The full NAS report, MAKING CITIZENS: HOW AMERICAN UNIVERSITIES TEACH CIVICS, can be found here.
The “New Civics” can accurately be called indoctrination because it is far more ambitious and open than the left-liberal bias in classroom instruction encountered by students for decades. Yes, 90% of college faculty in the liberal arts and humanities are liberal and progressive, and classroom propaganda is a growing problem, but the “New Civics” has ambitions for transforming the entire institution and all academic disciplines into “change agents.”
The “New Civics” is replacing traditional “civic literacy,” and it’s campus-wide ambitions have the endorsement and support of university administrators. In public institutions like the four cases documented in the MAKING CITIZENS report, it sees no conflict in using taxpayer dollars to accomplish its progressive mission.
If you think this is a marginal or minor problem, look at this week’s story, “How Colleges Teach Students to Be Good Citizens,” in the January 13 issue of the premier trade publication for the higher education establishment, THE CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION. The establishment is proud of the “New Civics” and hopes it will be “transformative.” Also, you can take a gander at the section of the Huffington Post devoted to Civic Engagement, where the goals of social justice indoctrination of students are praised by the pioneers of transformative social values like Ralph Nader.
Where have we heard that word “transformative” before? President Obama endorsed the Civic Engagement movement in a March 2016 speech to the “SXSW” technology conference in Austin, Texas. In an on-stage interview, he said:
So part of my job is to try to institutionalize that over the next several years. And I want to make sure that the next President and the federal government from here on out is in constant improvement mode and we’re constantly bringing in new talent and new ideas to solve some of these big problems… We want to create a pipeline where there’s a continuous flow of talent that is helping to shape the government.
The conference sponsors summed up the President’s message this way:
In 2016, with ten months remaining in his final term… he chose to use some of his remaining time in office to take up the message of civic engagement himself, to ensure that thousands of Americans with valuable skills are fully aware of the growing number of ways that they can use those skills for good.
This is important because it shows the vision and impact of the “civic engagement” and New Civics movement extends far beyond the campus. The aim is to turn the entire curriculum — including technology, engineering, and computer science — into little laboratories for incubating and motivating millions of progressive activists — not to be good citizens, but to be activists “doing good work for democracy.”
The NAS report explains the difference between the goals of traditional civic literacy and the goals of Civic Engagement — and why the former must first be destroyed in order to advance the latter. For example, students coming out of the New Civics movement may not have read the Federalist Papers or Washington’s Farewell Address, but they will be well versed in Washington’s ownership of slaves and the ” institutionalized hypocrisy” of the assertion “all men are created equal” in the Declaration of Independence. In short, the New Civics teaches students not that America is an exceptionally successful and noble country but a country in need of a radical “rebirthing.”
More than that, the message is that because of these deep imperfections, students have a civic duty to become “engaged” in political activism to right the wrongs inherited from the past — and since no occupation or profession is exempt from this duty, it is a fundamental part of the mission of the university to support and advance those activist commitments in all disciplines of study.
The three-year 525-page MAKING CITIZENS report uses four in-depth case studies to document and illustrates the “New Civics” movement. The four institutions are the University of Colorado at Boulder, Colorado State University at Ft. Collins, the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, and the University of Wyoming in Laramie. Public documents were augmented by interviews, course syllabi, and classroom observations where possible.
Based on extensive research, the report concludes that:
CU-Boulder has replaced the Old Civics with an enormous New Civics infrastructure dedicated to training a core of progressive activists and extending the New Civics into every corner of CU-Boulder, both inside and outside the classroom. ‘CU Engage’ is the administrative heart of the New Civics and contains those programs devoted exclusively to propagating the New Civics — including INVST, the Leadership Studies Minor, Public Achievement, and CU Dialogues.
At the other three institutions examinesd, similar programs exist but are not as well developed as at CU-Boulder.
The CU Engage program sends student missionaries to Colorado’s K12 schools to spread the New Civics gospel: “By recruiting undergraduates to ‘organize’ K12 students from the third grade up in support of progressive causes, CU Engage’s Public Achievement program creates a synergy of unpaid New Civics advocacy at the K12 and undergraduate levels.”
CU Boulder’s Leadership Studies Minor includes such elective courses as, Dynamics of Privilege and Oppression in Leadership, Multicultural Leadership: Theories, Practices and Principles, and Community Leadership in Action.
CU Engage also oversees a franchise of Harry Boyle’s Alinskyite “Public Achievement,” which recruits undergrads for K12 projects in support of progressive causes, training undergraduates to be community organizers.
The landmark MAKING CITIZENS report makes ten national and four Colorado recommendations for confronting and rolling back the New Civics takeover of higher education. One of the national recommendations is to freeze or curtail all federal and state funding for New Civics projects. In Colorado, that would mean halting or redirecting at least $49 million now supporting the main elements of the New Civics enterprise.
The progressives’ “New Civics” project is not a fad or a by-product of Obama’s radicalism: it has grown over two decades from an acorn to an oak and now a forest. Where are the leaders who will confront this powerful, entrenched establishment dedicated to producing an entire generation of social justice warriors?