May 14, 2019 | By Nancy Huff
A survey conducted in 2016 by the Annenberg Public Policy Center found that 74 percent of Americans cannot name all three branches of the U.S. government. The blame rests at the lack of civics classes in our public schools. The fact is that very few states teach civics and haven’t done so in many years. We could lose our nation if we do not educate students about how our republic functions.
Why have we not emphasized civics in our schools? The trend started in the 1990s but intensified in 2000 with the entrance of global assessment tests. One of the more popular tests is the PISA (Program for International Student Assessment), which tests 15 year-olds in math, science, and reading. In the last PISA testing cycle, the U.S. ranked 31st out of 71 developed nations. To raise our global ranking, all untested subjects like civics and history have taken a back seat to math, science, and reading. That strategy hasn’t worked to increase our math, science, and reading proficiency, nor has it helped in producing citizens who are equipped to govern this nation. We currently are in a fix because the urgency to reinstate civics back into our educational system has magnified how divided America is politically. Now, the race is on to see which political thought will be the first in the classroom to train students in their way of thinking.
On the horizon for the Progressive Civics’ classes are curricula proposed by individuals, nonprofits (like the Southern Poverty Law Center) and a few textbook companies. They have chosen new ways to promote civics education and increase youth community engagement. Students tackle problems like housing, climate change, racism, social justice, etc. The emphasis on our Constitution is often to view it as a “living and breathing’ document that is “evolving” and prime for change. Change requires a new language. The new norm is to call America a “democratic republic,” which, would better serve minorities and the people in general if changed to a “representative democracy.” What this achieves is movement toward changing the Twelfth Amendment to eradicate the Electoral College. Nevermind that the term “democracy” does not appear in the U.S. Constitution or the Bill of Rights. The words “democratic republic” do appear in the name of North Korea, former Communist nation East Germany, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, all nations known for repressive regimes and not democracies. The history curriculum preferred by progressives is A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn, in which founding fathers are depicted as greedy, slave-owning oppressors. It’s readily available online to any teacher who wishes to present the comprehensive curriculum in his/her classroom.
The Conservative Civics courses would be more traditional with an emphasis on how our government was designed to work as the Republic our forefathers had in mind. Community involvement, debate, and open discussions are the norm. Often students are required to know enough to pass a citizenship test as well as a civics exam. Right now Idaho has the best civics curriculum that starts in kindergarten as students begin with character qualities like honesty, dependability, and loyalty.
PRAY for patriotic American educators to write a comprehensive civics curriculum for K-12 that is fair and just to America, our constitution, and our forefathers. I’m asking you to take a few minutes to pray with me for our nation’s educators to train all students on how to be good citizens, and as graduates of our schools, they are loyal to America and participate in America’s republic.
ADD ACTION to your prayers. Many jurisdictions offer a public review of proposed curricula. Take the time to review what is proposed and offer your views even if they are not popular. Ask the Lord how He wants you to be involved in your local public schools.
Find out more about author Nancy Huff at TakingTheMountainOfEducation.com.