Civic education in America has long suffered from a failure to communicate the basic lessons and history of the American Republic to students and citizens. In fact, in recent years, progressive activists have attempted to re-purpose “civics education” to mean training in progressive activism rather than an awareness of America’s founding principles and the traditions of the republic. NAS first broke this story in our 2017 report, Making Citizens.
Since then, others have stepped up to the plate as well. The Philanthropy Roundtable (TPR) recently launched a new initiative — the Civic Education Program — that will focus on building a network committed to advancing knowledge and appreciation for core constitutional principles: equal protection under the rule of law, separation of powers, federalism, checks and balances, and the fundamental rights and civic responsibilities of American citizenship.
To achieve this, the Civic Education Program will highlight strategies, organizations, and projects most likely to bolster civic literacy and, ultimately, the democratic norms necessary to sustain a pluralistic society.
As friends of the NAS know, this is an issue that NAS has been deeply involved with for over three decades. Civic literacy has fallen to dramatic new lows in the last few years, to the point where few students today could pass even a basic civic literacy test. NAS has long striven to ensure that students receive an education founded on an awareness of our history as a nation and a civilization. TPR’s Civic Education Program is a wonderful first step in that direction, and NAS looks forward to assisting TPR in pursuit of this goal.