Tag: civics

Servants Who Think They Are Masters


We on Ricochet complain a lot about how employees of the federal government act like the masters, and think citizens are their servants. According to our Constitution, the truth is the opposite.

But particularly galling is the audacity of the more than 400 government employees from many different departments signing a letter demanding that the President (elected by the citizens of the United States) adopt policies to the liking of those employees. The letter demands the President change policy to support a “cease-fire” in the Hamas-Israel war. (NBC report. National Review via MSN report.) Following up on the post of @susanquinn .

This week on “The Learning Curve,” Gerard Robinson and guest co-host Kerry McDonald talk with Robert Pondiscio, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. He shares his background working with curriculum expert E.D. Hirsch, Jr., who has emphasized the importance of academic content knowledge in K-12 education as well as civic education to develop active participants in our democracy. They discuss why civics and the study of U.S. history have fallen out of favor over the last several decades, and what that means for the health of our representative government and liberties. Pondiscio explains some of the findings of his book, How the Other Half Learns, on New York’s Success Academy charter schools network, and how the charter movement can overcome growing political obstacles, especially among Democrats. Finally, they explore his recent National Affairs essay on the need to restore trust in the institution of public schooling.

Stories of the WeekThe Economist offers a thought experiment: 20 years from now, will children be taught by artificial intelligence-powered personalized learning assistants? America celebrates the 50th anniversary of Title IX, which helped bring about gender parity in sports, the many women whose lives were changed, and the impact on women in leadership roles in corporate America.

This week on “The Learning Curve,” co-hosts Gerard Robinson and Cara Candal talk with David Reynolds, a Distinguished Professor of English and History at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He is the author of Abe: Abraham Lincoln in His Times, selected as one of the Top Ten Books of the Year by The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post. Professor Reynolds shares what teachers and students alike should know about the culture of Civil War America, primary education in that era, and the wide variety of influences on Lincoln’s thinking and leadership. They delve into the most bitterly contentious political topics of Lincoln’s time, including slavery, states’ rights, trade tariffs, and women’s rights, and how the 16th president addressed the nation’s many political divisions. They also explore how Lincoln used his rustic image to shape his public persona and appeal to voters; and how he marshaled his rhetorical talent, invoking biblical language and the ideals of the American founding, to win the war, preserve the Union, and ultimately abolish slavery. Professor Reynolds concludes with a reading from his biography.

Stories of the WeekWashington Post columnist Jay Mathews recognizes the work of Will Fitzhugh, founder of The Concord Review, to encourage students’ interest in historical fiction and reward long-form research and writing. A new project of the Teagle Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities promises to restore the humanities in undergraduate education.

We the People Are Failing Our Government


Airplanes fly because the people who design them understand physics. They know how pressure changes as air flows over a curved surface. They understand lift and drag, and how force and mass relate to each other to determine acceleration. They’re experts in the science of materials, in finite element analysis, in instrumentation and control systems and combustion and ten thousand other arcane details of science and design and manufacture.

None of this means that they get it right every time, as Boeing’s recent travails remind us. But they get it right often enough to make air travel the safest means of transportation.

School Choice and Civics: A Brief Note Inspired by Jonah Goldberg


I had the opportunity to watch a live stream of an event hosted by the Fordham Institute, Education 20/20. Jonah Goldberg was one of the two featured speakers. It was great, and I appreciated that Michael Petrelli, who was the moderator, highlighted that the best approach to addressing the issue was persuasion.

Mr. Goldberg mentioned that the private schools in his area (the DMV) are highly progressive in their approach, relying on the Howard Zinn narrative of American history. He noted that “school choice” may not solve the issue of kids not learning civics, tying this issue to the larger Schumpeterian phenomenon of the elites failing to pass along the values that made their position and wealth (capitalism itself) possible.

In this AEI Events Podcast, AEI’s Ryan Streeter welcomes Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) to deliver a keynote address on the Joint Economic Committee’s Social Capital Project, a new initiative to study the state of life and social relations in America. Sen. Lee emphasizes that notions of federalism and localized decision-making processes are crucial to restoring a sense of civic connectedness, unity, and faith in the American government.

In the following panel conversation, experts discuss the role a federalist landscape could serve in expanding innovation, adaptation, and competitiveness in policymaking. Panelists include Lee Drutman (New America), Yuval Levin (National Affairs), and Scott Winship (Joint Economic Committee). The discussion is moderated by Joel Kotkin (Center for Opportunity Urbanism).

Why Civic Literacy Requirements Are a Bad Idea


shutterstock_71548027Yesterday, Troy Senik posted about how Tennessee Republicans came up with a half-decent idea: to require that students pass a civic literacy test in order to get a high school diploma. More specifically, that they correctly answer at least a 60 out of 100 questions found on US immigration tests. Troy endorsed this idea and so did many of the commenters on the thread.

I realize I’m swimming against the current here, but I’d like to take issue with this, because its a terrible idea.

Voting is such a small part of life. You do it once, maybe twice, in a year. Any student who cares enough about these things to actually vote will already know the answers to any civics test. As for everyone else, there’s a certain percentage of students who don’t care, and will therefore fail the test. It doesn’t seem worth the cost (or fair) to hamstring students on something as absolutely vital to their economic future as a high school diploma for the sake of what is essentially a symbolic trivia test.