Where Did Action Civics Come From?

The National Association of Scholars upholds the standards of a liberal arts education that fosters intellectual freedom, searches for the truth, and promotes virtuous citizenship.

Where Did Action Civics Come From?


The New Civics builds on radical activists’ steady extension of service-learning and civic engagement into America’s education system, dating back to the 1960s, mightily expanded in the 1980s, and becoming eligible for federal funding in 1990s. The New Civics received a federal imprimatur in 2012 when the U.S. Department of Education issued the report A Crucible Moment: College Learning and Democracy’s Future, which called for a “New Civics” that celebrates diversity, embraces of the “sustainability” movement, and teaches children how to be “citizens of the world”—to replace the traditional civics instruction that taught students the facts and principles necessary to assume the responsibilities of American citizenship.

The U.S. Department of Education’s simultaneous push for the nation’s schools to adopt “The Common Core State Standards,” which encouraged teachers to reduce history and civics to modules in English Language Arts, facilitated the removal of traditional civics instruction from America’s schools. New Civics, increasingly known as “action civics,” filled the resulting gap with a curriculum that denied students the chance to acquire knowledge of how our governing institutions work or why they were created, and instead taught partisan political commitment, protest, and activism, often with the guidance of overtly partisan teachers. This partisan commitment was almost exclusively toward radical ideological causes such as “sustainability” and amnesty for illegal immigrants.

The activists who champion New Civics now use every level of government to assault all components of civics education. The federal government, as noted above, has supported New Civics since the Education Department published A Crucible Moment in 2012. Stanley Kurtz has summarized how action civics is taking over our K-12 schools, by way of state laws such as in Massachusetts and Illinois, and via nonprofit organizations such as Generation Citizen. The National Association of Scholars’ report Making Citizens details how the New Civics works at the undergraduate level, and particularly how education departments combine the New Civics with teacher training. The College Board’s AP United States Government and Politics Advanced Placement Examination now requires students to complete a Project Requirement of action civics. The New Civics has already infiltrated America’s education system and is on the verge of taking it over.

The New Civics has also received unwitting support from education reformers who do not realize that radicals who invoke “civics” are wolves in sheep’s clothing. Justice Sandra Day O’Connor founded iCivics, but iCivics now endorses action civics and so-called “antiracism.”