The Partisanship Out of Civics Act

Stanley Kurtz

Editor's Note: The model state-level legislation below was authored by Stanley Kurtz, a Senior Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. NAS’s endorsement of this model can be found here, and Kurtz’s explanation and defense of it can be found here.


WHEREAS, true civic education is not political action itself but rather preparation for, and prerequisite to, mature political life; and

WHEREAS, respect for the liberties of students and teachers, the views of a politically diverse citizenry, and the tradition of institutional neutrality that flows from these, means that political activism has no place in formal education; and

WHEREAS, the free speech, conscience, and religious liberty rights of teachers ought to be respected; and

WHEREAS, the ability of the citizens of the state of [state name] and its school districts to control K-12 curriculum content in courses on history, civics, social studies, and similar topics through their elected representatives should not be ceded to private entities; and

WHEREAS, concepts that impute fault, blame, a tendency to oppress others, or the need to feel guilt or anguish to persons solely because of their race or sex violate the premises of individual rights, equal opportunity, and individual merit underpinning our constitutional republic, and therefore have no place in training for teachers, administrators, or other employees of the public educational system of [state name]; now, therefore,

BE IT ENACTED:

SECTION A:

(1) The following is required for graduation from [state name] high school:

(a) Three years in history, government, economics, and geography [or social studies]. These years must include at least 1 year of U.S. history and at least 1 half-year term of U.S. government.

SECTION B:

(1) No teacher of history, civics, U.S. government and politics, social studies, or similar subject areas, whether for regular credit or advanced placement credit, shall be compelled by a policy of any state agency, school district, or school administration to discuss current events or widely debated and currently controversial issues of public policy or social affairs.

(2) It shall be the policy of this state that teachers who choose to discuss current events or widely debated and currently controversial issues of public policy or social affairs shall, to the best of their ability, strive to explore such issues from diverse and contending perspectives.

(3) In any course on history, civics, U.S. government and politics, social studies, or similar subject areas, whether for regular credit or advanced placement credit, no school shall require, make part of such course, or award course grading or credit to, student work for, affiliation with, or service learning in association with, any organization engaged in lobbying for legislation at the state or federal level, or in social or public policy advocacy.

(4) In any course on history, civics, U.S. government and politics, social studies, or similar subject areas, whether for regular credit or advanced placement credit, no school shall require, make part of such course, or award course grading or credit to, lobbying for legislation at the state or federal level, or any practicum, or like activity, involving social or public policy advocacy.

(5) No private funding shall be accepted by state agencies or school districts for curriculum development, purchase or choice of curricular materials, teacher training, professional development, or continuing teacher education pertaining to courses on history, civics, U.S. government and politics, social studies, or similar subject areas, whether for regular credit or advanced placement credit.

(6) No teacher shall be compelled by a policy of any state agency, school district, or school administration to affirm a belief in the so-called systemic nature of racism, or like ideas, or in the so-called multiplicity or fluidity of gender identities, or like ideas, against his or her sincerely held religious or philosophical convictions.

(7) No teacher, administrator, or other employee in any state education agency, school district, or school shall be required to engage in training, orientation, or therapy that inculcates any form of race or sex stereotyping or any form of race or sex scapegoating, including the concepts that (a) one race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex; (b) an individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously; (c) an individual should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment solely or partly because of his or her race or sex; (d) members of one race or sex cannot and should not attempt to treat others without respect to race or sex; (e) an individual’s moral character is necessarily determined by his or her race or sex; (f) an individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex; (g) any individual should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress on account of his or her race or sex; or (h) meritocracy or traits such as a hard work ethic are racist or sexist, or were created by a particular race to oppress another race.

DEFINITIONS:

1) “School” means K-12 public school.

2) “Race or sex stereotyping” means ascribing character traits, values, moral and ethical codes, privileges, status, or beliefs to a race or sex, or to an individual because of his or her race or sex.

3) “Race or sex scapegoating” means assigning fault, blame, or bias to a race or sex, or to members of a race or sex because of their race or sex. It similarly encompasses any claim that, consciously or unconsciously, and by virtue of his or her race or sex, members of any race are inherently racist or are inherently inclined to oppress others.


Image: Louis Velazquez, Public Domain

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