Just after election day, on which MA governor Charlie Baker was re-elected by an overwhelming majority, he signed a bi-partisan bill to require civics education in public schools in our commonwealth.
Among other things, the law requires eighth-graders to complete at least one student-led civics project and it establishes a Civics Project Trust Fund, which schools can use for teacher training, curriculum development and to partner with institutions of higher education on projects related to civics. It also creates a nonpartisan high school voter challenge program to raise awareness for eligible students to register or pre-register to vote.
On the surface, this looks like a great thing. Unfortunately, we’re talking about the same “educators” who pushed Common Core, which has ruined the mathematics education of an entire generation, now designing a civics curriculum. And with a legislature that is super-majority democrat (127-32 in the House and 34-6 in the Senate) and the most liberal “Republican” governor in the country without the ability to sustain a veto, one can be sure that the curriculum won’t be based on Constitutional Originalism.
When I learned geometry in high school, we started from a few basic axioms first laid out by Euclid and built everything else from there. This included sometimes very complex proofs of three-dimensional properties of different shapes that could all eventually be traced back to the original rules. And these were not just rules that everyone agreed to. They were rules that just were true. If you tried to base proofs on a different set of rules, you were either wrong or perhaps you were dealing with a different type of geometry.
In my opinion, civics should be the same way. As Americans, our civics starts with the Constitution. It says what it says and everything our country has accomplished over the past 242 years can be traced back to that document and its amendments. If this new civics curriculum can just educate our children that the purpose of the Constitution is to limit what government can do and not to grant rights that didn’t exist before some black-robed lawyers decided to make them up, I’d consider that a win.
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