When we made the decision eight years ago to homeschool our children, it was based on one simple fact: the public school system was operating above their pay grade. Like most parents, we were under the false impression that public schools were still teaching reading, writing, arithmetic and real U.S. history and civics — not Wokeism 101. My husband and I certainly weren’t sending our two wide-eyed little ones into a setting that would teach them to despise the color of their skin and push with great gusto a social and political worldview that was directly opposed to the values we were instilling in our children at home. Eight years ago, I felt like a lone reed blowing in the wind. Today, the issue of left-wing indoctrination in education has moved to the forefront of public debates as parents and political candidates alike have made education a central part of their campaigns for the first time in decades.
But today, the parents’ rights movement faces a grave new threat from the so-called “Civics Secures Democracy Act” (CSDA). Supporters of the CSDA would have Americans believe that the bill would simply boost student understanding of U.S. history and civics. In reality, the bill is a $6 billion slush fund which Biden and the education bureaucracy would use to promote Critical Race Theory and so-called “action civics” (the leftist term for encouraging participation in protests for class credit, which just happen to always be for left-wing causes). Worst of all, some Senate Republicans are lining up to help pass it.
As the Biden administration has shown over the past two years, it will waste no opportunity to push wokeism in America’s schools – look no further than Biden’s day on Executive Order instructing every federal agency to infuse “equity principles” into everything they do, or the Biden DOJ’s targeting of parents, labeling them as domestic terrorists for speaking out at school board meetings, or the slew of left-wing education activists who fill the ranks of the Biden Department of Education.
Just last year, Biden’s Secretary of Education, Miguel Cardona, introduced a new rule governing the distribution of history and civics education grants, which explicitly held up the New York Times’ widely discredited 1619 Project and leading CRT advocate Ibram X. Kendi as positive examples of “culturally responsive teaching.”
In response to that move, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell penned a letter to Secretary Cardona decrying the Department’s effort “to reorient the bipartisan American History and Civics Education programs… away from their intended purposes toward a politicized and divisive agenda,” further declaring that if the Biden administration had attempted to pass such “reforms” to history and civics education via legislation, “that legislation would not pass Congress.”
The CSDA is that legislation. Yet thus far, neither McConnell nor any Republican has risen to vocally oppose it. Incredibly, three Republican Senators – John Cornyn of Texas, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, and Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma – have all signed on as co-sponsors. Do these Republicans truly believe that the Biden administration and the left have simply abandoned their goal of using the education system to further their political interests?
The CSDA also raises a whole host of other concerns beyond simply empowering activist-minded bureaucrats. The bill would also enrich left-wing education groups through taxpayer grant money and execute an end-run around state and local authority over education by promising a pile of federal dollars to states if they adopt Biden DOE-approved/sanctioned materials, in effect creating a national curriculum – something which is illegal under federal law and a revival of the disastrous Obama-era Common Core.
Proponents of this bill – including some Republicans – accuse people like me of wanting to “whitewash history” and prop up “systemic racism” by opposing it. Newsflash: I’m black. In fact, I’m a black woman, married to a black man, raising two black babies. Unlike most of these white progressives who are pushing this disastrous bill, I actually have a vested interest in making sure our nation will welcome me and my family into every arena of life. However, this bill threatens to erase history and irreparably harm the development of all of our children.
As a black mother in America, I know the full history of this country – the good, the bad, and the truly horrific – and it is extremely important to me that my children know it too. If you come to my house, you will see black history everywhere. My children can tell you who fought in the Civil War, who Frederick Douglass was, and name the most prominent leaders of the Civil Rights Movement – all things which I’d wager many students learning the “woke” version of American history and culture know almost nothing about.
My children also know my history – growing up dirt poor on a pig farm in the deep South, with none of the “privileges” that the pro-CRT crowd would have my children believe they need to succeed. But I did succeed, because nobody told me I was a victim, and because this is the greatest country in the world where people have the ability to rise above their circumstances through hard work and determination.
If the Civics Secures Democracy Act passes, it will mean that more minority children will be bombarded with dishonest and crippling propaganda about their supposed victim status, while more white children will be shamed for crimes they did not commit. Nothing could be more devastating for the emotional and psychological development of an entire generation of Americans.
That’s why concerned citizens should call their Senators and Representatives and tell them to oppose the Civics Secures Democracy Act. At the state level, legislators should work quickly to prevent state education bureaucracies and local districts from accepting federal funding without the approval of the legislature. And in Congress, every Republican should immediately begin working to block passage of this bill. Every American student deserves access to an education that inspires self-confidence and pride in their country, and that empowers them to live out their American Dream.
Kathy Barnette is the National Spokeswoman for 1776 Action, a 2022 Republican Candidate for U.S. Senate, in Pennsylvania, Veteran, and author of Nothing to Lose, Everything to Gain: Being Black and Conservative in America.