New Project Presses for Pro-American Educational Reforms

New Project Presses for Pro-American Educational Reforms
Students stand at attention as the national flag is raised at St. Joseph Catholic School in La Puente, Calif., on Nov. 16, 2020. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)
Matthew Vadum

A new project called The Civics Alliance aspires to unite Americans in the effort to promote authentic civics education that teaches the United States’ founding principles and documents, key events of American history, the structure of our self-governing federal republic, and the spirit of liberty and tolerance.

The National Association of Scholars-sponsored project comes after President Joe Biden rescinded President Donald Trump’s executive order banning the Marxist-invented critical race theory in federal training, and disbanded Trump’s 1776 Commission that sought to move American education away from a radical curriculum that unduly emphasized race-related injustices of the past.

NAS describes itself as “a network of scholars and citizens united by a commitment to academic freedom, disinterested scholarship, and excellence in American higher education.”

The project is in part a response to the proposed “Civics Secures Democracy Act,” a radical piece of legislation that was introduced in Congress earlier this month. That measure would have overwhelmingly left-leaning education bureaucrats handing out $1 billion in federal grants for K-12 curriculum development, teacher training, and research on the teaching of history and civics in K-12. Some of the money will encourage and support student political activism.

The problem, according to Ethics and Public Policy Center senior fellow Stanley Kurtz, is that the money will promote so-called woke education, including critical race theory and action civics, in the nation’s classrooms, merging “the culture war [and] ... K–12 education-policy disputes to a degree never before seen.”

The new legislation “is a backdoor effort to impose a de facto national curriculum in the politically charged subject areas of history and civics,” Kurtz writes in National Review.

“This civics education is part of a broader ideological assault on the American republic,” David Randall, NAS director of research, told The Epoch Times in an interview.

“Action civics really has to be removed from the curriculum. It shouldn’t even be an option,” he said. Action civics refers to K-12 and college students being required to protest and lobby for political causes for course credit.

“You are supposed to be learning affection for the republic we’re a part of. The republic cannot continue if nobody loves it,” Randall said.

“There has to be freedom for people to make up their own minds and not have the answers spoon-fed to them, which is what action civics does. You have to end up being a radical environmentalist with all of the radical environmental agenda.”

“This new alliance is a necessary step to ensure that the teaching of our Nation’s civics and history accords with the principles of its founding and the reality of that history,” NAS President Peter W. Wood said in a separate statement.

“Progressive action civics, while encouraging our students to become activists, fails to promote a full understanding of civics. It fails to teach the responsibilities of citizenship, how our federal republic operates, and the Founders’ reasoning behind America’s balance of powers, Bill of Rights, or encouragement of public education,” Wood said.

NAS says it hopes to return civics education to a traditional curriculum, so that America’s students will learn about the nature of their republic and be prepared to fulfill their civic duty by ensuring that it continues to preserve the liberties and rights spelled out in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

The Civics Alliance brings together education reformers, policymakers, and concerned citizens focused on preserving traditional civics education against the threat of the leftist “New Civics.”

Some of the original signatories to the Alliance’s Open Letter and Curriculum Statement are Robert Woodson, founder and president of the Woodson Center and 1776 Unites; Ryan Williams, president of the Claremont Institute; Wilfred McClay, professor of the history of liberty at the University of Oklahoma; Roger Kimball, editor and publisher of The New Criterion; and Glenn Loury, professor of social sciences at Brown University.

Other signatories include Katherine Gorka of the Heritage Foundation; Sam Karnick of the Heartland Institute; Terry Stoops of the John Locke Foundation; Ryan Williams, president of the Claremont Institute; John Hinderaker, president of Minnesota’s Center for the American Experiment; and Tom Lindsay of the Texas Public Policy Foundation.

Kurtz describes the new Alliance as “much-needed pushback against action civics.”

Working in partnership with NAS, a nonprofit called American Achievement Testing (AAT) accepted a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to design instructional materials for kindergarten through 12th-grade U.S. history courses, as The Epoch Times reported in September 2020. NAS will review mainstream history textbooks.