U.S. Senators Take a Stand Against Revisionist History and Partisan Civics Education

National Association of Scholars

Last week, Mitch McConnell and 38 Republican senators wrote Education Secretary Miguel Cardona to express "grave concern" with the Education Department's effort to destroy real civics education and replace it with anti-American propaganda.

The letter was prompted by the Department's announcement regarding new "priorities" for federal grants in American civics programs. The announcement cited both the debunked 1619 Project and the work of Ibram X. Kendi as authorities. The 1619 Project claims that America's defining traits are slavery and racism and that the year of our true founding was 1619, when the first ship with slaves arrived on American shores, rather than 1776, when the Declaration of Independence was signed. Kendi advocates for present and future racial discrimination as a remedy for America's role in the commercial slave trade, stating: “The only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination. The only remedy to present discrimination is future discrimination.”

"This announcement shows that Biden education officials see only America's sins, not its ideals or its full record," says National Association of Scholars Policy Director Teresa Manning. "They seem intent on redefining America as the land of racial bigotry rather than the land of opportunity. They're wrong."

For this reason, last week's letter to Secretary Cardona was a welcome corrective: It denounced the 1619 Project as representing a radical and false ideology meant to divide, pointing out that "actual, trained and credentialed historians with diverse political views have debunked the . . . many factual and historical errors of the 1619 project,” such as the claim that the American Revolution was started to preserve slavery.

The letter went on to note that this racially divisive content is spreading, even to subjects such as math; in Oregon, for example, finding correct solutions to math problems has been described as part of a "white supremacy culture."

"Most important," Manning continues, "the letter starts by reminding the Education Department of how little our students know about basic American history and civics: Even our college graduates can't name the three branches of government, the date of the Declaration of Independence, or the years of the Civil War.”

“In truth, Biden’s education bureaucrats, along with Democrats in Congress, want to give students fewer facts and more ideology. After all, empty and confused minds are easier to fill with disinformation than those knowledgeable of historical facts. ”

There is much work to be done to ensure our children have a proper education—one that teaches both the good and the bad of America’s history. However, the Senators’ letter makes clear that the Biden Administration’s priorities fall short of providing a “holistic” history and instead encourage division, adding:

"Families did not ask for this divisive nonsense. Voters did not vote for it. Americans never decided our children should be taught that our country is inherently evil.”

NAS has taken the lead to stop propaganda disguised as civics and history instruction now being promoted by both the Biden Administration and by Congress. The latter has proposed numerous bills promoting the same destructive pedagogies, such as the so-called Civics Secures Democracy Act and the Civics Learning Act of 2021, which are both time-sensitive issues. Our Civics Alliance members are now calling on Republicans, and other legislators, such as Senator John Cornyn and Congressman Tom Cole to withdraw their support from this legislation. Signatories to this request include Mark Bauerlein, Professor Emeritus of English, Emory University; Stanley Kurtz, Senior Fellow, Ethics and Public Policy Center; Ginni Thomas of Liberty Consulting; Jenna Robinson, President, The James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal; Roger Kimball Editor and Publisher of The New Criterion; and Christopher Rufo, Senior Fellow, the Manhattan Institute.

NAS has founded the Civics Alliance to bring together those who support providing students with a civics education based on facts and content, rather than indoctrination. Please consider joining here.

Photo by Ian Hutchinson on Unsplash

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