May 16, 2021

"By intent or blunder, the left and right are colluding to undermine the noble, elusive goal of giving American children the ability to think and argue and act together as citizens."

Concludes George Packer in "Can Civics Save America?/Teaching civics could restore health to American democracy, or inflame our mutual antagonisms" (The Atlantic). 

Civics is at the heart of the struggle to define the meaning of the American idea. Think of the battle lines as 1619 versus 1776—The New York Times Magazine’s project to reframe American history around slavery and its legacy, and the Trump administration’s counterstrike in the form of a thin report on patriotic education....

[O]n April 19 the Department of Education published a proposed rule [citing] “the New York Times’ landmark ‘1619 Project,’” as evidence of a growing acknowledgment of the importance of teaching “both the consequences of slavery, and the significant contributions of Black Americans to our society.” The same discussion praises schools for “working to incorporate anti-racist practices into teaching and learning,” citing the historian and Atlantic contributing writer Ibram X. Kendi.

The rule states that grant applicants must “take into account systemic marginalization, biases, inequities, and discriminatory policy and practice in American history,” “support the creation of learning environments that validate and reflect the diversity, identity, and experiences of all students,” and “contribute to inclusive, supportive, and identity-safe learning environments.”...

Inclusion” is an uncontestable value, but “validation” and “identity safety” are not the proper goals of education—in certain contexts they might even be in opposition to it.... You don’t have to be Stanley Kurtz of National Review to see progressive orthodoxy in the new rule.

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