Civic Miseducation

Candace is right, below, but It’s not just the ed schools that are to blame for miseducating young people in civics. In a high-schol civics textbook, underwritten by the Department of Education, students learn that “as fundamental and lasting as its guarantees have been, the U.S. Bill of Rights is a document of the eighteenth century, reflecting the issues and concerns of the age in which it was written,” namely, the protection of civil and political rights. New documents, we are told, such as the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, reflect new concerns and guarantee social and economic rights. And so, we read, “The people in the former Communist states of Europe, for example, may appreciate their newfound civic and political rights, but many are reluctant to give up the economic security and social rights their former Communist governments provided.” No explanation of the different kinds of societies that result from emphasis on either set of rights. Not exactly a ringing endorsement of the freedom that is advanced as our primary virtue. For a country supposedly built entirely on an “idea,” we have not been very careful about transmitting it.