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OPINION

Leftist Teachers Union Boss Endorses Cornyn Civics Bill - Maybe It's a Bad Bill

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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AP Photo/Seth Wenig,File

Randi Weingarten, president of the far-left American Federation of Teachers, recently took a break from demanding school closings and excoriating parents to endorse the federal Civics Secures Democracy Act (CSDA). Despite conservative warnings (see here and here, for example), that CSDA is a Trojan Horse for imposing left-wing civics instruction on K-12 students, Republican co-sponsors have remained stubbornly committed to the bill. 

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Maybe Weingarten’s enthusiastic endorsement will cause these sponsors, led by Senator John Cornyn of Texas, to reconsider.

CSDA would authorize billions of dollars in federal grants to states that comply with the Biden administration’s requirements for teaching civics. Given the bill’s generous use of code language requiring progressive teaching and curricula – “traditionally underserved students,” “civic engagement,” “media literacy” – as well as the ideological agreement of many state education bureaucrats who will draft the grant applications, it is certain that the CSDA grant money will be used to teach Critical Race Theory and implement “Action Civics” (course credit for leftist agitation). 

Also alarming is the bill’s manipulation of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) to create essentially a national civics curriculum.  By “align[ing] the NAEP test to [the leftist civics community’s] vision of history and civics, then [tying] state grants to performance on NAEP,” CSDA will enshrine that vision in civics classrooms. Teaching to the test will require teaching leftist civics dogma.

Biden educrats have already endorsed radical Critical Race Theory (CRT) and the bogus 1619 Project (despite retreating from the explicit language of their endorsement), so the idea suggested by Republican CSDA co-sponsor Representative Tom Cole that congressional oversight can keep these ideologues in line is, simply, laughable. Congress won’t even monitor the FBI when it sends S.W.A.T. teams to arrest pro-life dads, and we should believe it will monitor the intricacies of civics education grants?

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CSDA, then, would enable leftist civics activists to get exactly what they want in K-12 education. These activist organizations include bill cheerleader organizations iCivics and CivXNow, whose involvement appears not to have fazed GOP co-sponsors. But Randi Weingarten is a different story.

Even clueless Republican politicians must know that Weingarten and the union she heads are about as far left as one can go without falling off. Weingarten and AFT bitterly oppose Florida legislation that protects young children from sexualized discussions in classrooms. They help woke teachers develop ways to use the “preferred pronouns” of gender-confused students without alerting parents to what they’re doing. They describe the Dobbs decision, which overturned Roe v. Wade and allows states to protect unborn children, as “terrifying.” They denounce any disagreement about alleged climate-change apocalypse as “misinformation” that must be dismantled in the classroom. Weingarten herself screeches her support of anti-Second-Amendment initiatives. 

So now the union boss has jumped on the civics bandwagon. More progressive civics instruction would have deterred “white supremacists” from going to the Capitol on January 6 (or, presumably, from voting for Donald Trump in the first place). It would have kept state legislators from passing election-integrity laws. It would have protected teachers’ “right” to teach radical claims made by CRT proponents – concepts Weingarten has vigorously defended in an op ed as “accurate, truthful information.”

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How to achieve this progressive civics instruction? “Let’s support the bipartisan Civics Secures Democracy Act, sponsored by Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas),” Weingarten urges, “which enshrines into federal law the connection between civics education and the preservation of a vibrant, functioning democracy.” 

Republican co-sponsors of CSDA have consistently denied that the law would or even could be used to advance CRT. But here is a blatant CRT advocate – Weingarten -- begging Congress to enact the law. Weingarten understands the code words that will translate into leftist indoctrination; the bureaucratic machinations that will use this flood of federal money to thwart parental desires; the reality that once Republican members of Congress pass this monstrosity to approving headlines from the New York Times, they will wash their hands of the consequences and allow Education Secretary Miguel Cardona and his henchmen to implement it as they see fit. 

This bribery scheme recalls Common Core, in which the feds lured cash-hungry states to adopt English and math standards that turned out to be a disaster. So here we go again – but this time, the stakes are much higher.

If CSDA passes, the winners will be Randi Weingarten and her radical compatriots. The losers will be those who always lose when “conservative” politicians trust the education establishment to provide authentic, traditional education – our children. Senator Cornyn, pick a side.

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