American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten announced her endorsement of a federal “civics education” bill sponsored by Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), one that the National Association of Scholars (NAS) observed “is more an attempt to smuggle activist training into American K-12 classrooms than it is a good-faith effort to improve civic literacy.”
Weingarten began her column at Newsweek last week with a call for renewed civics education that is all entangled with her view that Donald Trump “and his cronies ran roughshod over the principles most of us learned in grade school.”
“On Jan. 6, 2021, we almost lost our democracy,” she wrote. “But it wasn’t a freak accident. It was the culmination of a series of calculated assaults on the rule of law, perpetrated by a president who flouted basic democratic rules and norms on a weekly basis.”
“[L]et’s support the bipartisan Civics Secures Democracy Act [CSDA] sponsored by Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas), which enshrines into federal law the connection between civics education and the preservation of a vibrant, functioning democracy,” the union boss urged.
Weingarten’s push for the CSDA bill led attorney and education researcher Jane Robbins to suggest at Townhall Wednesday that, if a “leftist teachers union boss endorses” Cornyn’s CSDA legislation, “maybe it’s a bad bill.”
“Despite conservative warnings (see here and here, for example), that CSDA is a Trojan Horse for imposing left-wing civics instruction on K-12 students, Republican co-sponsors have remained stubbornly committed to the bill,” Robbins wrote, explaining:
CSDA would authorize billions of dollars in federal grants to states that comply with the Biden administration’s requirements for teaching civics. Given the bill’s generous use of code language requiring progressive teaching and curricula – “traditionally underserved students,” “civic engagement,” “media literacy” – as well as the ideological agreement of many state education bureaucrats who will draft the grant applications, it is certain that the CSDA grant money will be used to teach Critical Race Theory and implement “Action Civics” (course credit for leftist agitation).
As Robbins observed, “action civics” in K-12 public schools would allow students to earn class credit for “field trips” such as protesting with Black Lives Matter, working as a volunteer at Planned Parenthood abortion clinics, and organizing gun control rallies.
Robbins also finds “alarming” the bill’s apparent goal of aligning the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), also known as the Nation’s Report Card, to left-wing revisionist history for a contrived national civics curriculum that, ultimately, will be tied to state grants awarded because of performance on NAEP.
“CSDA will enshrine that vision in civics classrooms,” Robbins noted. “Teaching to the test will require teaching leftist civics dogma.”
If parents think Critical Race Theory (CRT) is already infused in K-12 classrooms, they haven’t seen anything yet, Robbins observed, should CSDA be passed and signed into law:
The bill would also funnel hundreds of millions of dollars to the overwhelmingly leftist nonprofits that push action civics and CRT on schools, and it would incentivize local school districts to work with them. On top of that, the same woke schools of education that churn out CRT-based curricula would get their own pot of hundreds of millions of dollars to devise teacher-training programs based on the new, woke vision of history and civics. States and local school districts would then be pressed to work with these leftist ed schools as a condition of their own grants. There is no more certain way to infuse CRT into the classroom.
In late June, Governor Ron DeSantis (R-FL) exposed Cornyn’s civics bill as one that would expand CRT in public schools.
DeSantis’s office released the positive results of Florida’s 2022 civics assessments since the state made a major update to its civics standards that emphasize the exceptional nature of the American founding and Constitution.
The Star News Network reported:
The governor’s office noted efforts to further expand the civics initiative “come as Congress considers the misleadingly titled ‘Civics Secures Democracy Act,’ which would allow the Biden administration to buy off states with $6 billion if they sacrifice American History for Critical Race Theory and Biden’s other political whims of the day.”
“While the Biden administration is seeking to award grants to indoctrinate students with ideologies like Critical Race Theory, in Florida we have focused on Civics Excellence, teaching accurate American History without an ideological agenda,” DeSantis said in a statement. “Our students and teachers have worked hard to elevate their Civics Excellence and are proving to the nation that Florida is the national model for cultivating great citizens.”
“Even clueless Republican politicians must know that Weingarten and the union she heads are about as far left as one can go without falling off,” Robbins wrote, noting that Weingarten and AFT bitterly oppose Florida’s Parental Rights in Education law, refer to the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade as “terrifying,” and condemn opposition to the left’s climate change agenda as “misinformation.”
“If CSDA passes, the winners will be Randi Weingarten and her radical compatriots,” Robbins concluded. “The losers will be those who always lose when ‘conservative’ politicians trust the education establishment to provide authentic, traditional education – our children. Senator Cornyn, pick a side.”
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Susan Berry, PhD, is national education editor at The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Randi Weingarten” by Randi Weingarten.