The National Association of Scholars has published a new report entitled “Making Citizens: How American Universities Teach Civics”.
From the “executive summary”:
A new movement in American higher education aims to transform the teaching of civics. This report is a study of what that movement is, where it came from, and why Americans should be concerned.
What we call the “New Civics” redefines civics as progressive political activism. Rooted in the radical program of the 1960s’ New Left, the New Civics presents itself as an up-to-date version of volunteerism and good works. Thoughcamouflaged with soft rhetoric, the New Civics, properly understood, is an effort to repurpose higher education.
The New Civics seeks above all to make students into enthusiastic supporters of the New Left’s dream of “fundamentally transforming” America. The transformation includes de-carbonizing the economy, massively redistributing wealth, intensifying identity group grievance, curtailing the free market, expanding government bureaucracy, elevating international “norms” over American Constitutional law, and disparaging our common history and ideals. New Civics advocates argue among themselves which of these transformations should take precedence, but they agree that America must be transformed by “systemic change” from an unjust, oppressive society to a society that embodies social justice.
The New Civics hopes to accomplish this by teaching students that a good citizen is a radical activist, and it puts political activism at the center of everything that students do in college, including academic study, extra-curricular pursuits, and off-campus ventures.
New Civics builds on “service-learning,” which is an effort to divert students from the classroom to vocational training as community activists. By rebranding itself as “civic engagement,” service-learning succeeded in capturing nearly all the funding that formerly supported the old civics. In practice this means that instead of teaching college students the foundations of law, liberty, and self-government, colleges teach students how to organize protests, occupy buildings, and stage demonstrations. These are indeed forms of “civic engagement,” but they are far from being a genuine substitute for learning how to be a full participant in our republic.
New Civics has still further ambitions. Its proponents want to build it into every college class, regardless of subject. The effort continues without so far drawing much critical attention
from the public. This report aims to change that. In addition to our history of the New Civics movement and its breakthrough moment when it was endorsed by President Obama, we provide case studies of four universities: the University of Colorado, Boulder (CU-Boulder), Colorado State University in Fort Collins (CSU), the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley (UNC), and the University of Wyoming in Laramie (UW).
NAS has 9 findings about the state of civics education nationwide, and 4 about the state of civics education in Colorado and Wyoming.