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Response to Charles Quigley's Letter

(See Quigley's initial letter)


The Executive Director of the Center for Civic Education (CCE), Mr. Charles Quigley, has attempted to answer criticism concerning the anti-American nature of the materials published by the CCE. The CCE materials in question are the National Standards For Civics And Government and the textbook We The People: The Citizen and The Constitution, both printed at the federal government expense. As will be seen, Mr. Quigley's letter of response does not actually answer the criticisms in question, but merely "talks around" those criticisms.

Charles Quigley's letter, however, is carefully worded to give the impression that he is denying the criticisms to which he is asked to give an answer. He cannot deny these criticisms because they are all factual statements, and they can all be demonstrated to be accurate. Let us look at the three criticisms he deals with one at a time, and let us consider the relevant facts concerning them as well as Mr. Quigley's response.

Criticism # 1. "The federal curriculum in civic education has been taken over by the Center for Civic Education."

The relevant facts regarding this statement are as follows.

a). The 1994 education funding bill known as HR6 specifically authorized the Center for Civic Education (CCE) to write the "national standards" for civics and government. HR6 also funded the CCE to write these standards. No Child Left Behind (NCLB) continued this authorization and funding. The standards were published, also in 1994, in the form of a book called The National Standards for Civics and Government, written by the CCE. It can be ordered from the CCE (www.civiced.org).

HR6 and NCLB also authorized and funded the CCE to write textbooks on American Government. These textbooks (one elementary level, one middle school level and one high school level) are essentially the national standards in civics and government in textbook form. They can also be purchased from the CCE.

Why do these "national standards" constitute a "federal curriculum"? The standards constitute a "curriculum" because the word "standards" in education means one or both of two things: (1) levels of achievement, and /or (2) content that must be taught. These national standards, as they are now written, deal only with content; they do not deal with levels of achievement. To specify the content that should be taught is to specify the curriculum. The national social studies standards are more direct about this matter - they are called the National Curriculum Standards for Social Studies. For this reason, the national "standards" may be accurately referred to as a national "curriculum." In contrast, it is misleading to use the word "standards" because by that word the public thinks that achievement levels are being stated, which is not the case.

The "national" curriculum standards may additionally be accurately referred to as "federal" standards for curriculum because they have been authorized and funded by federal law as noted above. Just as the national farm program is best described as a "federal" program because it is established and funded by the federal government, so also the "national" curriculum standards are best referred to as the "federal" curriculum standards because they, too, have been created and funded by the federal government. Language has power, and we do well to be as accurate and as specific as possible in our word choice.

At the same time, however, there is certainly some room for disagreement on word choice used to describe what has happened, but word choice is not the issue. The factual data concerning what has happen is the real issue. The facts are as stated above. Because of these facts, using the term "federal curriculum" is clearly justifiable, and the existence of this curriculum cannot be denied, but if others wish to use the words ‘national standards - instead, no serious objections will be raised.

The influence of this federal curriculum is profound. Many states, for example, explain on their education websites that their state education standards are based on the national standards (federal curriculum). Minnesota was one such state until recently, when state lawmakers decided to chart a different course. The Stanford test website states that the Stanford achievement test is now based on the national standards (federal curriculum). The new McGraw -- Hill K-12 Home School catalog identifies many of its software offerings and textbooks as being based on the national standards (federal curriculum). In his letter, Charles Quigley even admits that the federal government’s NAEP test (National Assessment of Education Progress) in the social studies area is largely based on the national civics standards (federal curriculum).

No one has said that this federal curriculum is directly required by federal law. As can be seen from the factual information outlined above, however, the federal Department of Education has all sorts of ways to impose the federal curriculum on the schools without directly requiring it. Keep in mind that Goals 2000 was not directly required either. So why did all the states adopt it? The federal government is very creative in inventing ways to impose its will on the states and on the schools.

In summary, the criticism in question, that: "The federal curriculum for civic education has been taken over by the Center for Civic Education," is a factual statement that can easily be demonstrated to be true. It is not debatable. That is why Charles Quigley gives the impression that he is denying the statement, when he actually does not deny it. He cannot deny the statement because he knows it to be true. He throws up a smokescreen, instead.

Criticism # 2. "The Center is pushing the idea that the United States should give up its sovereignty in favor of a new world order."

Once again, Charles Quigley gives the impression that he is denying the statement, but he never does actually deny it. Quigley speaks about what he and his associates believe, but what they believe is not at issue. None of us can look inside the mind of others and know what they believe. The issue is what the standards and textbooks say, not what anyone believes or does not believe.

Mr. Quigley also offers to change the CCE materials if necessary. Of course he will change the materials - if he has to in order to maintain CCE control of the federal curriculum in civics and government. Again, to offer to change the materials is not the issue; the only issue is what the materials actually say. That question - of what the national standards and textbooks written by the CCE actually say - is the question that Quigley dances around but never directly confronts.

What do these materials say? Let us look, for example, at the CCE textbook, We The People: The Citizen And The Constitution, the high school level text, and let us consider what this textbook actually says about national sovereignty and the new world order. Here are the facts: In the first place, we observe that the term "national sovereignty" never appears in this textbook. "National sovereignty" is not in the index; it is not in the glossary; it is not in the text itself. "National sovereignty" is out of sight and out of mind. This observation is especially significant when we observe that our Declaration of Independence begins with national sovereignty. Indeed, the Declaration of Independence could be called "The Declaration of National Sovereignty." The meaning is the same. How can a textbook that supposedly teaches the Declaration of Independence never mention "national sovereignty"? And how can an American government textbook teach the foundational principles of our nation and never mention "national sovereignty"?

What, then, does this CCE textbook present instead of "national sovereignty"? When we turn toward the end of the textbook (to see what destination point the text has in mind for its students, we arrive at "Lesson 37" (40 lessons total) titled, "How May Citizenship Change in the Nation’s Third Century?" We are now citizens of the United States of America, of course. What change in citizenship does the textbook have in mind? That question is answered by the following quotations from unit 37:

So what kind of change in citizenship does the textbook have in mind? The unit ends with this question:

"Do you think that world citizenship will be possible in your lifetime?" [P. 203.]

What, then, is unit 37 trying to accomplish? It is written for the purpose of moving American students away from allegiance to American citizenship and in the direction of world citizenship, instead. Unit 37 is all about the attitudes and values of the student regarding United States sovereignty and citizenship versus the citizenship and sovereignty of some type of international government. If world citizenship takes priority over national citizenship, we have then moved from being a sovereign nation into being part of some sort of world federation, commonly called "new world order."

It should also be noted that the textbook’s last chapter (unit) is called, "What is Meant by returning to Foundational Principles?" In this unit, students are advised to become "...vigorous critics of the wisdom they inherited and the principles in which they believed."

Indeed, "returning to foundation principles" is defined in the text to mean that there are no foundational principles; everything is now up for grabs.

With this kind of rhetoric, the textbook written by the CCE is clearly designed to change the attitudes and values of American students so that national sovereignty is out of sight and out of mind, while various suggestions are made to indicate that a new world order is preferable to having the United States remain an independent and free nation.

This overall theme of the textbook is really very clear. Charles Quigley, once again, doesn’t answer the criticism because he cannot. The criticism is a factual observation.

Criticism # 3. "The text focuses on the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights."

Once again, Charles Quigley never denies this criticism, the reason being that he cannot. The negative attitude that his textbook takes toward the U.S. Bill of Rights and the positive spin the textbook puts on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is easily documented, and is so documented below.

Mr. Quigley says, instead, that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is included in the CCE textbook because various state textbook standards require it. The sleight-of-hand analysis of Charles Quigley becomes evident, however, when we remember that these state standards are largely based on the national standards (federal curriculum) as written by the CCE.

The real issue, however, is not whether a textbook includes a study of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The real issue is the attitude taken toward the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as compared to the attitude taken toward the U.S. Bill of Rights which is part of our Constitution.

The following quotations from We The People: The Citizen And The Constitution will document, first of all, the attitude of the text toward our own Bill of Rights:

The attitude of this textbook toward our Bill of Rights is further clarified in the last chapter (unit 40) which states:

As fundamental and lasting as its guarantees have been [note the past tense], 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. "Other national guarantees of rights also reflect the cultures that created them."[p. 207]

In other words, the textbook takes the position that our Bill of Rights is a creation of our culture as it existed 200 years ago, and that this Bill of Rights may have been useful for Americans at that time, but it is not necessarily applicable to us today nor does it necessarily apply to any other cultures of the world. (This type of analysis is typical of "postmodernism.")

Now compare the attitude the textbook takes toward our Bill of Rights to the approach it takes toward the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Concerning the UN document, the textbook says:

So we see that, according the textbook written by the CCE, our Bill of Rights are supposedly limited in application to one particular culture at one point of time some 200 years ago, while, in contrast, the United Nations’ document on human rights is universal in nature and is "worthy of any just society." (The textbook never points out that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights views human rights as being limited by government (UN) policies, while our own Bill of Rights takes the opposite view that it is government that is limited by the inherent rights that all people possess.)

The point is this: We The People: The Citizen And The Constitution takes a negative view of our Bill of Rights, while it takes a positive attitude toward the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Charles Quigley cannot deny that truth, so he, once again, throws up a smokescreen instead. The issue in not that of including the Universal Declaration; the whole issue is the matter of attitudes and values.

The central criticism of the CCE materials is that they are decidedly anti-American in nature. Under authorization of federal law, and written at taxpayer expense, the CCE has written national standards (federal curriculum) that undermine the foundational principles of the United States.

If the United States Congress had detailed knowledge of this federal curriculum (national standards) that have been written by the CCE, it would take immediate steps to throw them out and replace them with standards or guidelines that are consistent with the fundamental principles of the United States. It is time that the Congress, and the American people, knew the truth about the national standards written by the CCE. If this truth is recognized, the policy issues will take care of themselves.


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