Joe Bast | August 30, 2023
On April 22, John Fonte wrote a fascinating essay for the American Greatness website titled “No to Conservative Accommodationism.” [Link: https://amgreatness.com/2023/04/22/no-to-conservative-accommodationism/] about how civics is being taught in K-12 schools. Fonte is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute.
Fonte describes a civics curriculum called “Educating for American Democracy,” or EAD. It advertises itself as a “consensus” approach to teaching American history and civics with insights and learning objectives coming from both the left and the right, but Fonte says it largely promotes something called “action civics” or “training K-12 students in how to become leftist protestors.”
EAD may already be in your children’s classrooms, or it will arrive soon. A bill titled the “Civics Secures Democracy Act” would funnel billions of dollars in federal spending — your taxes — to EAD programs. It’s hardly exaggerating to say millions of students will be taught to hate America and how to agitate to destroy the institutions that made the world’s greatest experiment in freedom possible.
Whether or not you have school-age children, you should write to your local school board member, state legislators, and members of Congress and tell them you oppose the “Civics Secures Democracy Act” as well as the “Educating for American Democracy” curriculum.
Parents who want an alternative to EAD for their children (or grandchildren) have some excellent alternatives available to them. They are available for free online or are books that can be purchased used for an affordable price. Fonte describes three:
- Hillsdale College created the “1776 Curriculum” used in the national network of charter schools that have affiliated with the college and available for free to parents and all K-12 schools.
- The Civics Alliance, a coalition of organizations and individuals dedicated to improving America’s civics education, has created “American Birthright: The Civics Alliance’s Model K-12 Social Studies Standards.”
- In the waning days of the Trump administration, the President’s Advisory 1776 Commission issued “The 1776 Report,” summarizing the principles of the American founding and how those principles have shaped our country. The brief report (it is only 41 pages long) urges parents and educators to rely on primary texts, in particular the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Federalist Papers. It ends with a series of penetrating questions that teachers can pose to prompt discussion amongst students.
To this short list I would add the following:
- “Robinson Self-Teaching Home School Curriculum” developed by a Dr. Arthur Robinson and his six children and used by thousands of homeschooling families across the country to “teach your children to teach themselves and to acquire superior knowledge as did many of America’s most outstanding citizens in the days before socialism in education.”
- “The Annals of America,” a 21-volume reference library originally published by Encyclopedia Britannica in 1968 and last updated in 1987. It is a massive collection of original sources dating all the way back to 1493, published before political correctness and “woke” ideology led to widespread censorship and suppression of America’s true history. You can buy the set used from Amazon and other booksellers.
- If you buy “The Annals of America,” try to also buy the two-volume “Conspectus” that is usually sold separately. While the Annals are organized chronologically, the Conspectus is organized topically as 25 “Great Issues in American Life.” Each issue has an overview essay and then an index directing readers to the volumes and page numbers of thousands of original sources. Originally published in 1968, the Conspectus is now long out of print and copies are difficult to find.
- Also published by Encyclopedia Britannica in the 1960s and now out-of-print but available from online used book sellers is “Gateway to the Great Books,” a 10-volume set of some of the greatest works of Western Civilization. Unlike the companion 54-volume “Great Books of the Western World” series, this set is aimed at younger readers and features shorter and more accessible works covering “imaginative literature,” science, philosophy, and more. It is a liberal arts degree in a box, and you can buy sets for under $100.
- “A Patriot’s History of the United States,” by Larry Schweikart and Michael Allen, is probably the best single-volume American history book any parent could own. It covers 1492 to “2000 and beyond,” emphasizing the country’s proudest moments and achievements without overlooking or minimizing its embarrassments and set-backs.