by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Joy Pullmann of the Federalist places today’s debates over civics education in context.
As leftists push for greater control of what children learn about American history and how Americans define their civic responsibilities, a majority of Americans support more “civics education,” an interesting new Heritage Foundation survey finds.
“[T]wo-thirds of parents and nearly three-quarters of teachers share a strong desire to see greater emphasis on civics education. Indeed, interest in civics education among parents has increased substantially over the past five years. However, only around one-third of each group are satisfied with the type of content included in their schools’ civics education,” says the report. …
… This datapoint might be taken by some Republicans and right-branded institutions to support an effort underway branded as a “bipartisan” push to “increase civics education.” Look, something about which most Americans can agree amid a time of bitter cultural divides!
The problem with this takeaway is that it is neither supported by the rest of the report, the context into which it is released, the history of American public education, nor the increasingly clarifying realities of America’s current cold civil war.
Stanley Kurtz and the National Association of Scholars have done yeoman’s work exposing the national “civics education” agitation as a leftist play for increased political power. In short, here’s the problem this report underscores about that political background: Most Americans may want more “civics.” But they do not at all agree what “civics” means.
There are in fact two utterly incompatible major views of what Americans should learn and believe about their nation’s history and ideals. The first is the institutionally dominant view epitomized by critical race theory and CRT in action like The New York Times’s 1619 Project. …
… Some Americans want this. Some do not.
The opposing, and original, view of American civics aims to pass on the traditions, dispositions, habits, and beliefs that created the United States and have made it the best nation in world history.