Proposed new rule prioritizes applications from school districts to implement critical race theory, the 1619 Project, and ‘anti-racism’ into civics curriculum.
The federal Department of Education, on April 19, proposed a new rule to prioritize grant applications from school districts to implement critical race theory, the 1619 Project, and anti-racism into civics curriculum. This continues the Biden administration’s concerted effort to reverse Trump-era prohibitions on critical race theory in trainings throughout the federal government, and support for the advancement of critical race theory in federally funded programs.
The public comment period will remain open until May 19. The rule summary reads:
The Department of Education (Department) proposes two priorities for the American History and Civics Education programs, including the Presidential and Congressional Academies for American History and Civics(Academies) and National Activities programs, Assistance Listing Numbers 84.422A and 84.422B. We may use these priorities for competitions in fiscal year (FY) 2021 and later years. We propose these priorities to support the development of culturally responsive teaching and learning and the promotion of information literacy skills in grants under these programs. [emphasis added]
The proposed rule starts by noting that civics education in America could use a boost. It cites knowledge of the Bill of Rights as one goal. The Department of Education proposes to establish Presidential Academies to train teachers in American history and government, and Congressional Academies to provide enhanced education to high school students in these subjects.
Civics as a vehicle to inject critical race theory
Instead of strengthening the knowledge among students of our form of government, how it functions, and the intent of the Founders, the proposed rule immediately pivots to critical race theory. It would create two priorities: emphasising projects that incorporate “racially, ethnically, culturally, and linguistically diverse perspectives into teaching and learning,” and promoting information literacy skills. The DOE justifies the first priority by saying, “The Department recognizes that COVID-19—with its disproportionate impact on communities of color—and the ongoing national reckoning with systemic racism have highlighted the urgency of improving racial equity throughout our society, including in our education system. As Executive Order 13985 states: ‘Our country faces converging economic, health, and climate crises that have exposed and exacerbated inequities, while a historic movement for justice has highlighted the unbearable human costs of systemic racism. Our Nation deserves an ambitious whole-of-government equity agenda that matches the scale of the opportunities and challenges that we face.'”
It goes on to cite the 1619 Project and Ibrahim X. Kendi’s book, How To Be An Antiracist, saying, “there is growing acknowledgement of the importance of including, in the teaching and learning of our country’s history, both the consequences of slavery, and the significant contributions of Black Americans to our society;” and, later, “It is critical that the teaching of American history and civics creates learning experiences that validate and reflect the diversity, identities, histories, contributions, and experiences of all students.”
Federal grantmaking dictates local policy
The Department of Education (DOE) engages in grantmaking to researchers, federal agencies, local and state school districts, non-profit organizations, and institutes of higher learning. These grants ostensibly advance the effectiveness of public education through research, program funding, enhancement of low-income and rural budgeting, and other uses of federal tax dollars. The grants also, almost always, come with strings attached.
Under the first priority of this rule, the DOE would consider applications for grants that “propose projects that incorporate teaching and learning practices that reflect the diversity, identities, histories, contributions, and experiences of all students create inclusive, supportive, and identity-safe learning environments.” Applicants would be encouraged to note systemic marginalization, biases, inequities, and discriminatory policy and practice in American history; and create inclusive, supportive, and identity-safe learning environments.
The second priority of the proposed rule would promote information literacy skills. It cites the an article by the American Federation of Teachers that encourages students to “learn how to gather and evaluate sources of information, and then use evidence from that information to develop and support their ideas and advocacy positions.” One could reasonably conclude from this sentence that the AFT, and by extension the Biden administration, advocates for students to embrace the logical fallacy of attacking the source instead of the information itself, while also engaging in activism in their primary education years.
Stanley Kurtz wrote in response to this rule proposal at National Review. He described Kendi’s anti-racism movement, saying it “advocates a massive and indefinite expansion of reverse discrimination,” and is much more like neo-racism. Kurtz rightly points out that this proposed rule is the beginning salvo in making critical race theory a centerpiece of American education:
The programs immediately targeted by Biden’s new priority criteria for American history and civics grants are small. Once in place, however, those criteria will undoubtedly influence the much larger and vastly more dangerous “Civics Secures Democracy Act.” That bill would appropriate $1 billion a year, for six years, for history and civic education. Support for leftist “action civics” is already written into the priority criteria of the bill itself. I have argued that additional anodyne-sounding priority criteria in the Civics Secures Democracy Act — criteria favoring grants targeted to “underserved” populations and the mitigation of various racial, ethnic, and linguistic achievement gaps — would be interpreted by the Biden administration as a green light to fund Critical Race Theory in the schools. The new draft federal rule for grant priority in American history and civics education makes it clear that this is indeed the Biden administration’s intent.
Tying federal funding to critical race theory, Kurtz says, puts pressure on even the states controlled by Republicans. This could lead to those states having no choice but to implement CRT if they want fully funded schools. The political pressure to accept federal funding even with these conditions could be too much to resist.
As Mike LaChance wrote in March for Legal Insurrection, it’s become clear that the Biden administration is jumping headlong into social justice as a driver for its public policy stances in every area.
Jeff Reynolds is the author of the book, “Behind the Curtain: Inside the Network of Progressive Billionaires and Their Campaign to Undermine Democracy,” available at www.WhoOwnsTheDems.com. Jeff hosts a podcast at anchor.fm/BehindTheCurtain. You can follow him on Twitter @ChargerJeff, on Parler at @RealJeffReynolds, and on Gab at @RealJeffReynolds.DONATE
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