An Appeal to Senator John Cornyn and Congressman Tom Cole

National Association of Scholars

Editor's Note: The following is an open letter to Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) and Representative Tom Cole (R-OK) regarding their support for the Civics Secures Democracy Act. The Civics Secures Democracy Act, despite claims to the contrary, is an effort to smuggle progressive action civics into American K-12 classrooms under the guise of bipartisanship. 

Signatories sign as individuals. Organizational affiliations and positions are listed for identification purposes only.

To view our database of proposed American civics education legislation, click here. To view the National Association of Scholars' own model civics bills, click here. To join the Civics Alliance, click here.

Sign the Appeal


Dear Senator Cornyn and Representative Cole,

We urge you to withdraw your support for the Civics Secures Democracy Act. Recent actions by the Biden Administration will prevent this legislation from supporting impartial civics education and will instead direct the funds it authorizes to subsidize ideologically partisan political activism. We believe you can best achieve your original aims to support impartial civics education by rescinding your support for this legislation.

We sympathize with your original desire to support civics education. America would indeed benefit from properly designed civics education, which teaches students to take pride in what they share as Americans—for example, an exceptional heritage of freedom, a republic that has made liberty a fundamental principle of our government, and the joyful accomplishments of their common national culture. We also support civics education that teaches the founding principles and documents of the United States, the key events of American history, the structure of our self-governing federal republic, and the spirit of liberty and tolerance that should animate our private interactions with our fellow citizens.

We also understand why you would have taken to be innocuous the precise language of several subsections of the Civics Secures Democracy Act, which, for example, prioritize funding for “media literacy,” “evidence-based practices,” and to “improve knowledge and engagement ... [among] traditionally underserved” students. Education professionals often use phrases such as these as code for support for Action Civics, which provides vocational training for ideologically partisan protest and lobbying, and for Critical Race Theory, which teaches students that America is a “systemically racist” country.

Yet the Civics Secures Democracy Act will forward Action Civics and Critical Race Theory. It will provide vast federal funding for this radical program and it will impose enormous political pressure on the states to do the same. Just as the Education Department’s Race to the Top Fund gave the cash-strapped states an irresistible incentive to adopt Common Core, and thereby imposed de facto federal control on state standards and curriculum, so the Civics Secures Democracy Act will give the federal government de facto power to impose Action Civics and Critical Race Theory on the states.

The Civics Secures Democracy Act would have produced this result, even absent the Biden Administration’s latest initiative.1 Yet the Biden Education Department’s Proposed Rule “Proposed Priorities-American History and Civics Education,” makes explicit this consequence.2 This rule, which will apply to all American History and Civics Education programs, will require programs funding applicants to satisfy a checklist of ideologically partisan priorities, including that they “Take into account systemic marginalization, biases, inequities, and discriminatory policy and practice in American history.” The Proposed Rule approvingly cites The New York Times’ 1619 Project, which has been widely criticized by thoughtful scholars as a polemic riddled with historical errors.3 The Biden administration’s proposed new rule also approvingly cites the so-called “antiracism” of Ibram X. Kendi, who writes that “The only remedy to racist discrimination is antiracist discrimination. The only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination. The only remedy to present discrimination is future discrimination.”4 Kendi explicitly advocates discrimination by race, and supports changes to our constitutional republic hostile to our most basic liberties.5 These citations provide more than sufficient proof of how the Biden Administration will use any funds devoted to American History and Civics Education: to fund programs aligned with the historically inaccurate polemic of the 1619 Project and the overtly illiberal so-called “antiracism” of Kendi.

The Proposed Rule does more than reveal administrative language. It reveals the mindset and the intentions of the Education Department administrators who will oversee the programs authorized by the Civics Secures Democracy Act. These administrators have revealed that they prefer partisan and illiberal political activism to authentic civic education. These preferences will continue even if they modify the language of the Proposed Rule. They will administer the Civics Secure Democracy Act’s proposed programs to transform civics education into a vessel to secure these troubling ends. In short, the language of this bill cannot be “fixed.” So long as the Biden administration administers these funds, the bill will impose ideological partisanship and activism on America’s schools.

Other concerns weigh against passing the Civics Secures Democracy Act. As the history of Common Core illustrates, federal intervention and control have damaged American education nationwide. The states, the localities, and civil society are better equipped to determine education policy than the federal government. These levels of government and society, not the federal government, are best equipped to determine how to improve civics education. In this regard, it should be noted that the Act’s revisions of National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) also threaten to provide a backdoor route to imposing a de facto national curriculum in history and civics.

Even if we set aside these concerns, the Biden Administration’s Proposed Rule by itself transforms the expected result of the Civics Secures Democracy Act. The Proposed Rule confirms that the Act will not achieve what you originally desired, support for civics education that teaches students to take pride in and to preserve their republic and its exceptional heritage of freedom. It will instead replace genuine civics education with partisan training in political activism.

The Biden Administration’s new Proposed Rule more than warrants a decision on your part to withdraw your support for the Civics Secures Democracy Act.

We write as citizens concerned about the state of education in history and civics, and as members of the Civics Alliance convened by the National Association of Scholars. We invite other members of the Civics Alliance, and other interested citizens, to join this letter as signatories.


Initial Signatories

Mark Bauerlein, Professor Emeritus of English, Emory University

Brandon Dutcher, Senior Vice President, Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs

Frank Gaffney, Founder and Executive Chairman, Center for Security Policy

John Hinderaker, President, Center of the American Experiment

Sheryl Kaufman, Congressional Communications Director, Former Congressman Jim Bridenstine

Katherine Kersten, Senior Policy Fellow, Center of the American Experiment

Roger Kimball, Editor and Publisher, The New Criterion  

Stanley Kurtz, Senior Fellow, Ethics and Public Policy Center

Arthur Milikh, Executive Director, The Claremont Institute, Center for the American Way of Life

David Randall, Project Director, Civics Alliance

Jenna A. Robinson, President, James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal

Christopher Rufo, Senior Fellow, Manhattan Institute

Eunie Smith, President Emeritus, Eagle Forum

Ginni Thomas, President, Liberty Consulting

Ryan Williams, President, The Claremont Institute

Peter Wood, President, National Association of Scholars

Signatories

Carolee Adams, President, Eagle Forum of New Jersey

William Albee

Sue Alexander

George Allison

Elena Ancarrow, Retired School District Administrator

Margaret Annett

Tom Antram

Rosana Arebalo

Dave Armstrong

Gayn Armstrong

John Ballinger

Joe Barden

Ed Barron, Senior Vice President of Engineering

Elizabeth Bayless

Lori Bear

Michael Bender, Clinical Professor of Medicine Emeritus, UCSF

Caroline Beno, Elementary Teacher, Visalia Unified School District

Anne Bermudez

Michael Best

Susan Birchem, Office Administrator

Kelly Bishop, Educator

Marc Bishop

Michael Boatner

Louis Bonham

Michael Bonnette

Walter Bowen, Business Systems Analyst

Gary Boyd

Philip Boyer

Mike Bradford, Pastor

Carmen Bramlage

Charles Branch

Mark Branyon, Customer Service, James Avery Craftsman, Inc

William Brenan

Ann Brooks

Donna Buddemeier

Katie Butler

Donna Cagle

Kim Cain

Maria Cairns

Bruce Caldwell, Research Professor of Economics, Duke University

Jennifer Cali

Bea Cannon

Robert Carey

CJ Carlso

Danny Catalanotto

Londa Chandler

Alexei Chemiakine, Scientist, Columbia University Medical Center

Barbara Chu, Engineer (Retired)

Catherine Clark

Jessica Cline, Teacher, Irving Independent School District

Russell Cline

Karla Clow

David Cocos

Claudia Colvin

Dennis Conlan

Joshua Coots, Teacher, Duneland School Corporation

Bill Covel

Shawnna Cox

Sue Crain

John Cull

Norman Cummings

Madison Dallas

Wanda Daniel

Ed DeLucie, Former Village Trustee, Valley Stream

Susan Dennison, Teacher (Retired)

Wesley Denton, COO, Conservative Partnership Institute

Michael Dinnin

Robert Dixon, Retired Military Officer

Kelly Dodge

SW Domagala

Catharine Domenick

Frank Drake

John Drew, Sales Manager

John Droz, Physicist, Alliance for Wise Energy Decisions (AWED)

Susan DuBose, President, Republican Women of North Shelby County

Bruce Dunn

Kay Dunn, Precinct Chair, Ellis County Republican Party, Texas

Steve Early

Mike Echt

Tammie Edwards

Ann Ellison

Beverly Emerson

Luke Emison

Phillip Ernest

Jacquelyn Etchison

Zack Ezer

Amie Falch

Brian Fanelli

Scott Farray

Jeffery Finley

Larry Finn

Will Fitzhugh, Founder, The Concord Review

Steve Flaig

Brenda Flannigan

John Flenniken, Ministry Staff (Retired)

John Fonte, Senior Fellow, Hudson Institute

John Foster, Retired Army Officer

Terry French

Brad Garrett

Charles Giammalva

Gene Giegerich

Aaron Goetz

Richard Goldsborough

David Goldstein

David Goodman

John Gordon

Sherry Graf

Virginia Gudermuth

Mary Hamilton

Daniel Hammond, Professor Emeritus of Economics, Wake Forest University

Warren Hansen

Robin Harrison, Owner, Design Solutions DFW

Stan Hartzler, Professor/Teacher (Retired)

Roger Head

Amy Henry

Suzanne Herster

Trisha Hicks

Roy Hight

Cora Hill, School Teacher (Retired)

Damon Hines, Police Officer

Michael Hoke

Elizabeth Holmes

Carolyn Homan

Richard Homan, Turning Point USA

Paula Hoskins

Mary Houlihan

Nancy Huff, President, Teach the Children International

Karl Hutzelman

Kenneth Jacobs

David Jaissle

Louis Jeffrey

Barbara Johnson

Monica Johnson

Robert Johnson

John Jones

Robert Jones

Sonya Jones

Steven Jones, Former Irving Independent School Board President

Velmer Jones

Claude Judd, Owner, Texas Insurance Exchange

Dennis Kaptain, Software Engineer

John Keen, Former School Board Member, RBHS Riverside Illinois

William Kellar, Professor (Retired), University of Houston

Muriel Kemp

Diane Kern

Dennis King, Attorney

Ed Kinh

Adam Kissel, Senior Fellow, Cardinal Institute for West Virginia Policy

Sandra Klimczak-Ohm

Darrin Kneute

Carol Knipper

Don Koonce, Storyteller, American Stories Inc

Steve Korson, Engineer

Robert Krapohl, Library Director and Adjunct Instructor, Lyon College

Barbara Krebs

John Lacue

Ernie Lafferty

Laurel La Framboise

Rodney LaJoie

Stacy Lambert

David Larimer

Andrea Leffew

Jon Le Sage

Victoria Lewis

Tana Lievsay

Mack Lindsey

Isaac Long, District Operations Manager, Alpha Pack Militia

Jon Longerbone, Attorney (Retired)

Sheryl Longin, CEO, Diplomatch

Michael Looney, Retired Tax Lawyer/Accountant

Ellen Lopez

Mike Lowry, Owner, Lowry Properties, Inc.

Christine Luskin

James Malone

Diane Martin

Tom Martin

Ronald D. Maszk Jr.

Rosemary Mathern

Mikaela Matthews

Stephen McCants

Shelly McGough

David McNeil

Carolyn Miller

Madonna Miller, Registered Nurse

Rocky Miller

Kevin Moore, Former Instructor, TCU

Linda Morris

Merle Morris, Attorney

Tim Morris

David Moser

Paul Mosher, System Analyst

Bob Mowbray

Bob Murphy, Engineer

Sheryl Myers

Barbara Nelson, Attorney

Matthew Niemiera, President, Lonestar Rehabilitation

Linda Nolen

Timothy O'Flaherty, School Teacher

Gary Owen

Marlene Parker, Teacher (Retired)

Lynn Parks, Pastor, Eastwood Baptist Church

Nancy Parsons

Jeremy Pate

Brenda Peck

Adir Peretz

James Perlstein, JKP LLC

Martin Pfister

Jason Poe, Financial Advisor, Raymond James Financial Services

Robert Powers

Michele Procko

Paul Quintero

Rachel R

Kelii Rain

Rudolph Redden

Elnora Redgrave

Don Rhudy, Doctor of Psychology and Counseling, Incarnate Word Hospital System (Retired) and Private Practice

Jeff Rice

Ron Richardson

John Riggs

Merline Riggs

Doug Ripperger

Reid Roberts

Steven Roberts

Dan Ross

Guy Rounsaville

Tommy Rowe

Patricia Ruser

Tricia Russell, VP, CM Architect

Wayne Russell, Principal, The Paladin Group

John S

Danna Sapp

Teri Sasseville

Dan Savage

Debra Scott

Melba See

Jacquelyn Shepherd, Admin. Assistant, LSC

Marilyn Shinn

Sean Showalter

Steve Skinner, Engineer

Zach Slade

Cory Smith

Paul Stackpole

Whitney Stanbury

James Stewart

Robert Stock

James Stojek

Michaela Sweatt

James Sykes

Jo Anne Szczyglowski, Retired Teacher

Stephen Takacs, US Navy Retired

David Tambornino

Sue Thompson

Lewis Toland, English Professor Emeritus, NMMI

Michael Trent

Ellen Turnamian

Michael VanOrsdale, Music Industry Executive (Retired)

James Varney

Donna Voivedich-Burrage

Shannon Walker

Bonnie Wallace

Jonathan Ward

Spencer Warren

William Webb

Kenneth Whaley

Ryan Wheeler

David White, Past Chairman, Kay County Republican Party, Oklahoma

Mark White

Alan Wiggins

Carolyn Wiggins

John Wilcox

Kathryn Wilcox

Kellie Williams

Dean Williamson, Research Economist, Antitrust Division, US Department of Justice

Gray-Leigh Wilson

J.R. Wilson, Co-Founder, Truth in American Education

Mike Wilson, CEO, Cowboy Electrical Services Inc.

Sue Winfree

Richard Woodcock

David Ziegler



Image: United States Senate, United States Congress, Public Domain

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