The news is good from Tennessee and Florida!—and we face challenges in the District of Columbia and Minnesota, while the fight continues in Rhode Island. Read on for civics education news from around the nation, as well as the new American Birthright Taskforce Act.
American Birthright Taskforce Act
The Civics Alliance has just published the American Birthright Taskforce Act, drafted by the National Association of Scholars. The Act provides model language so that state policymakers can create a social studies task force, appointed by the governor and the state legislature, to draft social studies standards based on American Birthright: The Civics Alliance’s Model K-12 Social Studies Standards. State policymakers may use this Act to establish American Birthright directly, rather than work through (too-often heel-dragging) state education departments.
The Act creates a social studies task force to draft standards based on American Birthright—which, therefore, can be tailored to suit the state’s own needs. The task force provides an opportunity for public input, its work product has to be approved by the education committees of both legislative houses, and every member of both legislative houses will have a chance to move amendments of the standard in detail. If the standards pass by concurrent resolution in both legislative chambers, then they are in effect for five years—at which point, they will be subject to review by a new task force.
We specify that the standards must receive the approval of the education committee in each legislative house. States which divide responsibility for K–12 education among multiple committees should adjust the model text to ensure that the task force reports its draft standards to every K–12 education committee.
The American Birthright Task Force Act allows state policymakers to move the power to draft state social studies standards from reluctant state education departments to a committee of their own choice—but it makes sure that the task force will be accountable to state policymakers, that a broad consensus of state policymakers approve the final standards, and that the public will have opportunities to provide input on the standards. The use of concurrent resolution allows for the standards to be approved swiftly and efficiently once they have received the approval of a consensus of policymakers.
Tennessee Social Studies Standards: Check Out The New Draft!
Tennessee has issued the latest draft of its social studies standards for public review and comment. The form is difficult to view at a glance, but the Tennessee Department of Education sent a draft Word file to the Civics Alliance, on request. The draft standards appear fairly good!—they could use some improvement (no focus on liberty, world history rather than Western civilization, politicization in psychology and sociology, some action civics requirements imposed by state statute, bits of radical jargon such as enslaved and Indigenous Peoples), but it is generally old-fashioned liberal skew rather than radical dogma. We encourage Civics Alliance members to read for themselves—but Tennessee is far better than Rhode Island or Minnesota, and even significantly above Arkansas. Civics Alliance members should be encouraged, as we are, to discover that some state education departments still do a decent job on their own.
Florida: House Bill 999
Florida House Bill 999 promises to begin an effective counter-revolution against the woke establishment in Florida’s public higher education—and includes a substantial measure of civics-education-focused reform. Civics Alliance members should read the bill, spread word of it, and use it as a model for education reform in other states.
District of Columbia: Social Studies Standards
The District of Columbia has issued terrible social studies standards, filled with radical politics and action civics. The United States Congress does not appear to have direct power to veto the District’s social studies standards. While we urge members in the District to oppose these new standards, DC’s political complexion is such that opposition must work for long-term change.
Rhode Island: Support for Taken For a RIDE
President Mike Stenhouse of the Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity has written to rally support to revise Rhode Island’s social studies standards and laws. Stenhouse’s article follows up on Taken For a RIDE: How Rhode Island’s Social Studies Standards Shortchange Students and associated op-eds.
Minnesota: New Destructive Education Legislation
Minnesota’s legislative majority has begun a broad campaign to ruin Minnesota’s education system. Recently introduced bills include required ethnic studies, ethnic studies again, and “climate justice” instruction, as well as de-recognizing colleges with statements of faith from eligibility for dual-enrollment by high school students. Meanwhile, Minnesota’s Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board is taking steps to retroactively lower passing scores for teachers in the name of racial “equity.” Civics Alliance members in Minnesota should get in touch with the Center of the American Experiment, which is leading the opposition to this campaign to destroy Minnesota’s schools. Civics Alliance members everywhere should look to Minnesota, to see what the woke want to impose on American education in all fifty states.
The National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education has just issued A Framework for Advancing Anti-Racism Strategy on Campus. This probably will be used as a model in colleges and universities throughout America—and, indeed, in all private and public bureaucracies. Civics Alliance members should inspect this Framework, since it gives a fair sense of the woke challenge confronting America.
Christopher Rufo’s “Biden Nationalizes the DEI Bureaucracy” is a must-read, since it outlines how a recent executive order has prepared the ground to insert woke cadres throughout government and permanently revolutionize government employees. Civics Alliance members should also read this article to get a sense of the extent of the woke challenge to America.
Civics Alliance State Affiliates
The Civics Alliance is building a network of state affiliates—groups dedicated to removing action civics in their state, whom we will list on our website. We now have nine affiliates, in Alabama, Georgia, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Texas. If you would like to form such an organization, or suggest an existing organization, please get in touch with David Randall (email@example.com).
Monthly American Birthright Zoom Meeting
The Civics Alliance will have its monthly Zoom session devoted to social studies standards reform on Monday, March 6, at 2:00 PM Eastern Time. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to join these monthly Zoom meetings.
Social Studies Standards Revision Schedule
2023/Current: Alaska, California, Connecticut, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky (partial), Maine, Minnesota, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Wyoming
2024: Alabama, Arizona, Montana, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Wisconsin
2025: Kentucky, Nebraska, Texas
2026: Colorado, Maryland, North Dakota, South Carolina
2027: Hawaii, Kansas
No Revision Currently Scheduled: Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri (but could change), New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Washington
Waiting Confirmation: North Carolina (2021)
Continuing Priorities: Federal Legislation
At the federal level, the Civics Secures Democracy Act threatens to impose action civics nationwide.
The Civics Bill Tracker
Civics Alliance members may now use the Civics Bill Tracker to track all proposed federal and state legislation related to civics.
We encourage Civics Alliance members to inform the public and policymakers about the stakes and consequences of action civics bills.
David Randall is Executive Director of the Civics Alliance and Director of Research at the National Association of Scholars.
Image by Harold Mendoza on Unsplash