Published April 29, 2021
The new Biden rule favoring education grants that push Critical Race Theory is a disaster for this country. Put that new rule together with the massive federal Civics Secures Democracy Act that pushes both leftist “action civics” and Critical Race Theory, and K-12 education in America will be transformed beyond recognition. Once the radicals in Biden’s Education Department get $6 billion worth of grants from the Civics Secures Democracy Act to play with, they will force mandatory political protests (action civics) and cures for “whiteness,” “Euro-centrism,” etc. (Critical Race Theory) on virtually every state and school district in the nation. If you don’t think Biden can do this to the red states, remember that Obama used Race to the Top grants to force Common Core on virtually every state.
Now that pushing Critical Race Theory, along with (invariably leftist) protesting, onto school children is Biden’s program, the only way to stop it is for states to protect themselves by passing laws that keep both action civics and Critical Race Theory out of K-12. Whatever happens to the federal civics bills currently in play (there are two of them), we can expect more such legislation in the years to come. Now that politicizing K-12 is part of the Democrats’ agenda, any state without a law that bars both action civics and Critical Race Theory is vulnerable.
The cure for this is state-level legislation based on the model bill I have published with the National Association of Scholars (NAS), the Partisanship Out of Civics Act (POCA). (Here is my explanation for the various provisions in the initial version of the model bill.) While the initial version of the model POCA bill blocked both action civics and Critical Race Theory-based teacher training, I have now expanded the model to keep Critical Race Theory out of the K-12 curriculum as well. This includes some new language aimed at the most pernicious claims of the 1619 Project.
While Texas House Bill 3979 has taken an approach largely inspired by the NAS POCA bill, most state legislatures dealing with this are ignoring the threat of action civics and focusing only on attempts to keep Critical Race Theory out of K-12. That is a mistake.
Action civics is just as dangerous as Critical Race Theory, and in fact is directly allied with it. Critical Race Theory explicitly calls for making political protests part of education. The new ultra-woke Critical Race Theory-inspired teaching standards in Illinois even encourage teachers to substitute “social justice work” and “action civics projects” for traditional testing when determining a student’s grade. That means legislators need to bar both action civics and Critical Race Theory, particularly because grants authorized by the Civics Secures Democracy Act will demand adherence to both of these pernicious pedagogies.
The expanded and updated version of the Partisanship Out of Civics Act published and endorsed by the National Association of Scholars is the best way for states to protect their K-12 systems against both action civics and Critical Race Theory. Texas is moving forward on this front. Other states should consider doing so as well.
Remember, should the disastrous federal Civics Secures Democracy Act pass before the start of the 2022 state legislative session, it may be too late to keep action civics and Critical Race Theory out of your state. Left-leaning state education bureaucrats will apply for the massive pot of money governed by federal rules favoring action civics and Critical Race Theory before your state’s legislature can even convene. Any governor who tries to stop the bureaucrats from applying will be slammed for turning away badly needed federal funds. So, state legislators should consider introducing bills inspired by the expanded NAS POCA model, before it’s too late.
Stanley Kurtz is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.