What We Must Do
The Civics Alliance supports the vision of the Civics Education Open Letter and Civics Curriculum Statement. This document provides the principles that should guide civics education, from kindergarten to education school. They also provide enough programmatic detail to guide education reformers and policymakers as they work constructively to renovate traditional civics education and to ensure that civics education reform will preclude both the New Civics and myopic attempts to compromise with the advocates of the New Civics.
These documents emphasize what can be done at the state and local levels, both because New Civics advocates currently guide federal policy and because the state governments and the localities still control the bulk of public education. Yet the Civics Alliance will work at whatever level of government offers the opportunity for constructive civics education reform.
The Civics Education Open Letter and Civics Curriculum Statement emphasize the following principles:
• Civics education should consist of large amounts of required factual knowledge and the study of primary sources.
• Civics education should ban “service-learning,” the essential component of New Civics pedagogy. This ban should be expanded into an explicit ban of “action civics” if necessary.
• Civics education should be subject to external tests, to ensure that teachers actually teach what they are supposed to teach and that students actually learn what they ought to learn in their classes.
• Civics legislation should aim to remove all education bottlenecks where radicals can force New Civics on students, such as curriculum standards, general education requirements, and teacher licensure requirements.
• Civics legislation should seek to use special commissions to create and enforce proper civics standards, so as to bypass predictable sabotage from radical activists within education department bureaucracies.
• Civics legislation should focus on dual-courses, core transfer curriculums, general education requirements, and the mutual recognition of civics courses among states, because they are the essential administrative means to convey civics education.
• Civics education should emphasize the principles of federalism and localism, both to fit civics education to local preferences and so as to avoid creating coercive education systems that New Civics advocates can capture.