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.