A coalition of American scholars, policymakers, and concerned citizens has acted to promote traditional civics curricula in K-12 schools in the face of what appears to be a takeover by “action civics” activists seeking to use their programs to promote left-wing causes.
The National Association of Scholars (NAS) is leading the coalition dedicated to “defending and restoring true civics education across the United States,” said Peter Wood, the organization’s president.
Wood said the coalition hopes to preserve a civics education that teaches about American founding principles and documents, key events in United States history, how government works at all levels, and “the spirit of liberty and tolerance that should animate our private interactions with our fellow citizens.”
He explained what a civics curriculum should teach American students:
By the time students leave high school, they should comprehend the rule of law, the Bill of Rights, elections, elected office, checks and balances, trial by jury, grand juries, civil rights, military service, and many other points in the traditional American civics curriculum. College undergraduates, and especially graduates of education schools, should also learn how these civic fundamentals emerged from Western Civilization, including through developments in Western political theory and American history.
Today, however, Wood said such a civics curriculum is being undermined by “radical activists,” a situation that has necessitated the formation of the “Civics Alliance”:
Their New Civics uses the pedagogy of service-learning to teach action civics, also known by names such as civic engagement, civic learning, community engagement, global civics, and project-based civics. The New Civics threatens to replace traditional civics education with Neo-Marxist “social justice” propaganda, vocational training for left-wing activism, and Alinsky-style community organizing techniques adapted for use in the classroom.
Stanley Kurtz, senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, told Breitbart News recently an “action civics” curriculum will teach America’s students how to community organize for leftist causes with a woke education program based on Critical Race Theory.
With the “action civics” framework, “teachers organize their students for demonstrations and lobbying on behalf of leftist causes,” Kurtz said, adding:
Action civics also lets students volunteer with leftist community organizations and participate in their advocacy for course credit. If you layer “culturally responsive” woke education on top of that, teachers are forced to indoctrinate students with ideas like “systemic racism,” “white privilege,” and “gender fluidity.” Teachers also have to go through training sessions to cure them of their “whiteness.”
Kurtz is the author of the Partisanship Out of Civics Act, a model for legislation that would ultimately ban action civics at the state level.
In a column at National Review Monday, he emphasized the new NAS Civics Alliance “has more than enough battles to wade into,” and elaborated:
A profoundly misguided effort to nationalize action civics is well underway. Two federal bills that would channel well over a billion dollars to action civics and critical race theory have just been introduced. Battles are just now breaking out at the state level as well. … Radicals have been building the movement to replace authentic civic education with leftist political protests for decades. Conservatives and moderate liberals are only just now catching on, and the hour is late.
“With the formation of the NAS Civics Alliance, however, much-needed pushback against action civics has well and truly begun,” Kurtz said.