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Center for Civics Responds to Criticism

(See reply sent to Charles Quigley)

Center for Civic Education
Main Office
5146 Douglas Fir Road
Calabasas, CA 91302-1407
(818) 591-9321 fax (918) 591-9330
e-mail cce@civiced.org www.civiced.org

Washington, DC Office
1743 Connecticut Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20009-1108
(202) 861-8800 fax (202) 861-8811
e-mail centereast@civiced.org www.civiced.org

September 2, 2003

Honorable Richard Lugar
United States Senate
Washington, D.C.

Dear Senator Lugar:

Georgiana Cunningham has forwarded to me a letter from one of your constituents, in which she expresses concern about what is being conveyed by our text We The People: The Citizen and the Constitution. The letter was accompanied by copies of several of the pages from the text that were of particular concern to her. Georgiana has also spoken with her, and she identified three areas of concern. I have listed them below with our responses.

The federal curriculum in civic education has been taken over by the Center for Civic Education.

Response. I have been a professional educator since 1957 and I see no evidence that there is a federal curriculum in the United States. As you know, decisions about curriculum are made at state and local levels and, with some exceptions, the federal government has little impact on curriculum. In fact, I believe that, for a number of reasons, commercial textbook publishers have a greater impact on state and local curricula than the federal government.

The Center developed the National Standards for Civics and Government, voluntary standards subsequently used to shape the 1998 National Assessment of Educational Progress in civic education. Numerous states, school districts, and publishing companies have freely chosen to use these standards as a resource in the development of their own standards and curricular materials. They are not, however, universally applied as written nor have they shaped a "federal curriculum." I think that it is important to note that these standards were developed with a grant from the first Bush administration; they have been widely acclaimed by scholars and others representing the political spectrum in the United States; they have been translated into every major language; and they have been used in developing democracies throughout the world.

The Center is pushing the idea that the United States should give up its sovereignty in favor of a new world order.

Response. Neither I nor anyone involved in the development of any of tour texts believes that the U.S. should give up its sovereignty in favor of anything including a "new world order." If there is anything in any of our texts that can be shown to advocate such foolishness or have the effect of promoting such a belief, we will change it without hesitation.

The text focuses on the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Response. Attention to the Declaration is a requirement of U.S. government, U.S. History and World History texts in many states and that is why we have included treatment of the topic in our text. Our treatment calls for students to critically examine the Declaration and compare the rights it contains not only to those in our Constitution and Bill of Rights, but to rights found in our federal and state laws.

The text does not advocate the U.S. approval of the Declaration of Human Rights, or the inclusion of all of the rights it contains in our Constitution or federal or state law. It merely asks students to examine and discuss the rights and make up their own minds about them and the Declaration. If there is any specific flaw in these materials, we will be most pleased to review them and make necessary changes.

I appreciate your constituent’s concern for and attention to the policies and curricula of our schools. I also appreciate anyone’s drawing to our attention problems with our curricular materials or the possible effects of their use with students. Our policy is to solicit criticism from all concerned citizens and to take them into account in the development and revisions of our materials. We will certainly take your constituent’s observations about the pages in the texts we have received from her in our next edition of the text. We would appreciate her sending us any other concerns that she might have.

I would be very pleased to communicate with your constituent to clarify our understanding of her concerns and the evidence for them and try to respond in a manner that is mutually acceptable.

Finally, if you would like an informed third party opinion about the text, you might contact Bill Baker. As you know, Bill has helped in the development and editing of many of our curricular materials. He is very familiar with this text since he has served as a judge in our state and national competitions since 1987.

I appreciate your longstanding support for our programs and am sorry this matter has taken time from your busy schedule.

Very best regards,
(signature)
Charles N. Quigley
Executive Director

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