Why Attempts to Renew American Civic Education Are Likely to Backfire

On Congress’s agenda for this year is legislation, with bipartisan support, to provide funding for efforts to improve instruction in civics and the basics of American history. Meanwhile, other proposals are gaining traction for federal and state legislation that would impose new standards for these subjects. Stanley Kurtz argues that these admirable efforts are apt to have deleterious consequences, because the new civics curricula are likely will be shaped by far-left ideologues like those at the consulting group iCivics:

iCivics . . . was founded by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor to teach civics to school children via video games. Since then, iCivics has gone woke. It’s now committed to “pointing out institutional systemic racism” even though “this will alienate some.” Its leaders see the younger generation’s approval of NFL players kneeling in protest at the playing of the national anthem as a sign of civic advancement, not decline. . . . What’s more, iCivics was closely involved in the development of that Illinois Civics campaign to bring so-called anti-racism and critical race theory into the classroom.

Nor, writes Kurtz, will private educational institutions be exempt from these reforms:

Over the long term, even private, parochial, and denominational schools will be forced into the same leftist curricular box. Legislators may think they’re voting for consensus-based bipartisan history and civics standards. They’ll be getting woke history and civics instead. . . . Detailed state curriculum standards could be tied to state tests, which are also often imposed on religious schools that accept state tuition vouchers, or seek to participate in other state programs, such as athletics. Failure on those tests would imperil a school’s accreditation, or bring the loss of state voucher funding or other state benefits. Teacher certification would likely also be tied to mastering the state standards.

Kurtz argues that there is a better way to remedy young Americans’ woeful ignorance of their own political system:

The best way to battle educational decline is a return to local control, which should never have been abandoned in the first place. Relying on our current education establishment to carry out reform is a fool’s errand. They are what got us into trouble to begin with. The real hope for improvement lies with parents. A grassroots movement to take back the curriculum from woke education bureaucrats could shift the composition of local school boards across the country.

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Read more at National Review

More about: Education, Progressivism, U.S. Politics

Will America Invite Israel to Join Its Multinational Coalitions?

From the Korean War onward, the U.S. has rarely fought wars alone, but has instead led coalitions of various allied states. Israel stands out in that it has close military and diplomatic relations with Washington yet its forces have never been part of these coalitions—even in the 1991 Gulf War, when Iraqi missiles were raining down on its cities. The primary reason for its exclusion was the sensitivity of participating Arab and Muslim nations. But now that Jerusalem has diplomatic relations with several Arab countries and indeed regularly participates alongside them in U.S.-led joint military exercises, David Levy believes it may someday soon be asked to contribute to an American expedition.

It is unlikely that Israel would be expected by the U.S. to deploy the Golani [infantry] brigade or any other major army unit. Instead, Washington will likely solicit areas of IDF niche expertise. These include missile defense and special forces, two areas in which Israel is a world leader. The IDF has capabilities that it can share by providing trainers and observers. Naval and air support would also be expected as these assets are inherently deployable. Israel can also provide allies in foreign wars with intelligence and cyber-warfare support, much of which can be accomplished without the physical deployment of troops.

Jerusalem’s previous reasons for abstention from coalitions were legitimate. Since its independence, Israel has faced existential threats. Conventional Arab armies sought to eliminate the nascent state in 1948-49, 1967, and again in 1973. This danger remained ever-present until the 1978 signing of the Camp David Accords, which established peace between Egypt and Israel. Post-Camp David, the threats to Israel remain serious but are no longer existential. If Iran were to become a nuclear power, this would pose a new existential threat. Until then, Israel is relatively well secured.

Jerusalem’s new Arab allies would welcome its aid. Western capitals, especially Washington, should be expected to pursue Israel’s military assistance, and Jerusalem will have little choice but to acquiesce to the expeditionary expectation.

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Read more at BESA Center

More about: IDF, U.S. military, U.S.-Israel relationship