Suppose six former Secretaries of State wrote a Wall Street Journal op-ed discussing the urgent need to recognize and establish diplomatic relations with Communist China. Their op-ed might make you think the former secretaries were asleep at the switch during their time at Foggy Bottom.
Unfortunately, six former Secretaries of Education have signed the rough equivalent of such an op-ed for the Journal. The six are: Lamar Alexander, Arne Duncan, John King, Rod Paige, Richard Riley and Margaret Spellings.
The op-ed calls for the teaching of Civics along the lines set forth in the “Roadmap to Educating for American Democracy.” In support of doing so, the six former secretaries state:
A constitutional democracy requires a citizenry that has a desire to participate, and an understanding of how to do so constructively, as well as the knowledge and skills to act for the common good. Yet
a history and civics education for the 21st century must also grapple with the difficult and often painful parts of our history—including enslavement, segregation and racism, indigenous removals, Japanese-American internment, denials of religious liberty and free speech, and other injustices.
The six former secretaries tell us that the Educating for American Democracy (EAD) roadmap “offers a new vision for history and civics” (emphasis added) — one that will facilitate the “grappling” with slavery, racism, etc.
Do any of the six have a clue about what’s been happening in American classrooms for the past three decades? Thanks to Black History Month, students learn about slavery, segregation, and racism every year they are in school. They learn about these evils years before they learn about the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and America’s triumph over Nazism and Soviet Communism.
Indigenous removals? In the 1990s, my older daughter’s fifth grade class “tried” Christopher Columbus for crimes against Indians. A trial is nothing if not “grappling.”
Internment of Japanese-Americans? In the 1990s, my younger daughter’s class read a novel about that. A novel goes well beyond ordinary instruction. It too constitutes “grappling.”
Can the six former secretaries point to any widely used American History textbook that doesn’t adequately cover the events and phenomena they say need to be “grappled with” pursuant to their “new” vision of history instruction? I doubt it.
These historical events and phenomena are old hat in our schools now. They are drummed into students all over America. Any further “grappling” would be overkill in the name of indoctrination.
Indeed, these events and phenomena are already being treated not just as history, but as current reality that needs to be “grappled” with and overcome. Increasingly, students are instructed that “White Privilege” and White Supremacy” plague contemporary America. The teaching of History and Civics has been weaponized to promote the narrative, and hence the agenda, of BLM and the radical white left.
The EAD roadmap endorsed by the six secretaries is the latest gambit in the drive to indoctrinate students in that narrative and agenda. As Stanley Kurtz puts it:
The EAD initiative is dominated by the woke Left, with a sprinkling of conservatives designed to create the illusion of bipartisanship. EAD’s agenda is to provide a sheen of legitimacy to “action civics,” an adaptation of Alinsky-style community organizing to education.
So-called action civics gives teachers a mandate to get their students out demonstrating and lobbying, almost invariably on behalf of leftist causes. Courses in action civics also mandate “service learning,” in which students intern with leftist community organizations, providing them with free labor while participating in their advocacy.
For a thorough and compelling analysis of what the EAD initiative is about, I strongly recommend this article by John Fonte. The article shows that the initiative is “a trojan horse for woke education.”
Why did I call this post “Three blind mice” when the WSJ op-ed has six signatories? Because not all six are blind.
I’m confident that the former secretaries who served in Republican administrations — Alexander, Paige, and Spellings — are clueless. It’s unlikely that any of them has heard of “action civics.”
Arne Duncan is another matter. He’s a brilliant guy and certainly was not asleep at the switch during his time as Secretary of Education. Kurtz points out that Duncan helped popularize “action civics.”
Among Duncan’s talents is this one — he can spot useful idiots a mile away. The Wall Street Journal op-ed testifies to that.