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A Call to Renew Civic Education

March 27, 2021

The generation of Americans who willingly engaged in a war against German “National Socialism” and Italian “Fascism” was educated in public schools that taught something called “Americanism.” That unifying civic education was reinforced by the many U.S. Servicemen and women who returned at the end of WW II from Western Europe or Asia confirmed in the knowledge that “America was the best country in the world.”

They had experienced hardship in the Great Depression and knew that wars meant death, yet they enlisted or willingly accepted mandatory conscription in military service.

The world is a better place because of their belief in “Americanism” but, sadly, that form of civic education came to an end and attempts are now underway to replace what was once taught about the good that America offers with criticism of our real or imagined failings.

Two years ago on December 15 I outlined this problem in an essay titled “Why America Is in Decline… and What to Do About It that anticipates a May 22 announcement by The National Association of Scholars, the leading advocate of tradition in scholarship and higher education, of a new alliance to restore true civic education.

By the time students leave high school, they should comprehend the rule of law, the Bill of Rights, elections, elected office, checks and balances, trial by jury, grand juries, civil rights, military service, and many other points in the traditional American civics curriculum. College undergraduates, and especially graduates of education schools, should also learn how these civic fundamentals emerged from Western Civilization, including through developments in Western political theory and American history.

As we endure a period of exceptional instability in civil society and American politics, I urge you to read this announcement by NAS President, Dr. Peter Wood.

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