How the left uses civics classes to promote “progressive” ideas and activism

In the post immediately below this one, John describes how, in Minnesota, the left is substituting indoctrination for learning. His focus is on plans to teach a virulently anti-American version of our nation’s history — one that, in John’s words, “drops almost everything normally regarded as history–the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, World War I, World War II, the Holocaust, and any reference to minor figures like George Washington–in favor of political indoctrination” on the evils of whiteness, Christianity, and capitalism.

But the left isn’t content with spreading its propaganda through the teaching of U.S. History. It is also determined to do so through the teaching of Civics. And, to take things one step further, the left intends to use Civics classes to promote left-wing activism by students.

I warned about this development last month in a post called “Reject woke Civics.” That post quoted extensively from Stanley Kurtz, who, thank God, is all over this looming disaster.

In his latest contribution, Stanley demonstrates how far along the left is in imposing “Action Civics” on America’s students. He warns:

Advocates of “Action Civics” are poised to press a novel practice on every state education system in the Union. Bills mandating Action civics will soon be introduced in state legislatures across the country; it is already required in Massachusetts and Illinois. The Biden administration is likely to support that effort with federal carrots and sticks, using the model of the Obama administration’s support for Common Core.

Unfortunately, widespread adoption of Action Civics will definitively politicize an already politically tainted K-12 educational system, irrevocably cementing the partisan Left’s hold upon our culture. Action civics amounts to school-sponsored indoctrination and political action in support of progressive policy positions. It must be energetically opposed by all who value authentic liberal education.

What is “Action Civics”? Says Stanley:

Action Civics conceives of itself as a living laboratory in which mere civic theory is put productively into practice. Students, it is held, best acquire civic know-how through direct political action, for example by protesting in favor of gun control or lobbying for legislation to address climate change.

Action Civics thus aims to turn students into the shock troops of the left. That’s a move typical of authoritarian and, especially, totalitarian regimes. I think I learned that in Civics class.

Back then, Civics teachers had a quaint view of civic instruction. Stanley summarizes that view as follows:

True civic education conveys the purpose, nature, and contours of our constitutional republic, tells the story of the struggle to uphold its founding principles of equal rights and liberty, and cultivates virtues necessary to the republic’s preservation. What civic education very deliberately does not attempt to do is supply students with substantive political positions. That is for students themselves to determine as free individuals, in the fullness of time.

(Emphasis added)

Some advocates of Action Civics are open about their desire to deploy it on behalf of a leftist policy agenda. Others say it does not impose a political viewpoint upon students, but merely encourages them to act upon their own pre-existing political convictions. That might be bad enough, given that we’re talking about the largely unexamined pre-existing convictions of 15 year-olds.

But, as Stanley says, “given the pressures easily and inevitably placed upon students by teachers and peers in classrooms dedicated to direct political action, this is difficult to credit.” Make that impossible to believe.

It’s not speculation to say that “Action Civics” will directly promote left-wing student activism. The evidence supports this concern. Stanley points to that evidence:

In their 2020 report on Action Civics for the Texas Public Policy Foundation, Tom Lindsay and Lucy Meckler assess the controversy between NAS and Generation Citizen. To determine whether Action Civics almost invariably leads to protests on behalf of progressive political causes, Lindsay and Meckler reviewed 27 political projects listed on the websites of Generation Citizen and its allies.

What emerged was an overwhelmingly progressive political bias, examples of which include protests in support of the Green New Deal, various gun control measures, driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants, opposition to a border wall, etc.

In addition, Lindsay and Meckler reviewed public statements by Andrew Wilkes, a leader in the “Action Civics” movement. They found that his statements strongly supported progressive positions. Lindsay and Meckler concluded that Civic Action advocates are being less than frank about the decidedly partisan politics at the heart of their enterprise.

What a surprise.

There’s much more to Stanley’s article. I’ll conclude, though, the same way John concluded his post on the left’s hijacking of the way U.S. History is taught:

Essentially, liberals want our schools to be hotbeds of anti-Americanism. Unfortunately, just about all of our public school systems are in their hands. Unless voters wake up and demand change, the results for our young people and our country promise to be disastrous.

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