Action Civics And Other Educational Issues With Stanley Kurtz – Proper education is so important. What are the educational issues of today? What are Action Civics? Tune in for the answer to this with Stanley Kurtz.
Air Date: 05/03/2021
Guests: Stanley Kurtz
On-air Personalities: David Barton, Rick Green, and Tim Barton
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Transcription note: Â As a courtesy for our listeners’ enjoyment, we are providing a transcription of this podcast. Transcription will be released shortly. However, as this is transcribed from a live talk show, words and sentence structure were not altered to fit grammatical, written norms in order to preserve the integrity of the actual dialogue between the speakers. Additionally, names may be misspelled or we might use an asterisk to indicate a missing word because of the difficulty in understanding the speaker at times. We apologize in advance.
Welcome to intersection of faith and the culture. You found your way to WallBuilders Live. Thanks for joining us today. Be sure to visit our website at wallbuilderslive.com. That’s where you can get a list of all of our stations across the country where we can be heard, and then also you can dive into the archives.
So if you missed some shows last week, or the week before or even back a couple of months, they’re all available right there at our website, wallbuilderslive.com. That is also the place you can make a contribution. And we do appreciate all of you that are giving from across the nation. We’re a listener-supported program. So when you donate, you’re investing in freedom, because you’re making it possible for us to speak truth on this program and equip and inspire people across the country to be the difference makers in their communities. And that goes for you as well. You can be the catalyst for a restoration of biblical principles and constitutional principles right there in your community by taking the things you learn right here on WallBuilders Live and implementing them in your community.
My name is Rick Green. I’m a former Texas legislator and America’s Constitution coach. And I’m here with Tim Barton, national speaker and pastor and president of WallBuilders. And David Barton, America’s premier historian and our founder here at WallBuilders, You can learn more about us at that website wallbuilderslive.com.
Guys, probably a good time, we don’t do this often enough to actually explain what is WallBuilders? We’re not doing construction, though. You know, David, you were in construction in your younger years. I grew up in a construction family. But nope, we’re not actually building walls with sheetrock. So let’s explain what WallBuilders is to some of our new listeners.
Yeah, WallBuilders, not as in not sheetrock, Rick, by the way, it’s not even the wall in the southern border. That was a question we got to ask them on number of occasions was you guys involved in building the wall in southern border? No. WallBuilders is a story that comes out of the Bible book of Nehemiah.
And in the book of Nehemiah, Israel had been a great nation, one of the greatest nations in the ancient world. And then they had a moral failing. And the people really became not very strong, not very godly, their leaders became really pretty poor leaders and not very good. And so as a result, the nation really slipped and went down so much that God said, look, I’ve had it with you guys, you guys really do need a good kind of discipline here. So I’m going to let the Babylonians have you for about seven years, let’s see how you like that.
And so in that period of time, as the Babylonians came in to take Israel, they destroyed Jerusalem and Jerusalem was the capital city. It had been the glory of their nation. When other kingdoms would come to see who Israel was, they would come to Jerusalem. And there was just so much amazing stuff. There are Solomon’s the castle he lived in, and the house he lived in, and then you had the great temple, and so much that was there.
And so after 70 years, God has told the people, okay, now you can go back and rebuild. And they go back to Jerusalem. And this is the story of WallBuilders, because in the Old Testament, if you did not have a wall around your city, you did not control your own destiny. So having a wall around Jerusalem that you could keep the enemy out, you could control who went in, you could make sure you remain prosperous, you weren’t open to all the wolves that wanted to come by and do something. If you did not have a wall around your city, then you were prey for whoever came by. So it’s super important for them to have a wall.
And so WallBuilders is the concept of rebuilding things that have been torn down to restore greatness. And in America statistically, one of the first books we did at WallBuilders was back in the late 80s. And we showed 47 categories of federal statistics showing how America had plummeted in so many areas, how that our productivity had fallen, how that we had become a world leader in violent crime, how that we were falling in educational achievement, so many other areas: 47 categories. And so we said, hey, look, we got to rebuild, we got to get this thing back to being a really significant position. We need good education. We need strong families, we need criminal justice under control.
And so we took the model of the book of Nehemiah, where that everybody did something. And so we believe you got healthy from local communities up, not from the president down, but from local communities up. And when people in the book of Nehemiah got involved to rebuild that city, and they all did something, some only rebuilt their own house and got their own household back in order, whatever it is, when they all did it, the entire nation was restored in an amazingly short period of time.
And so that has become kind of the model for us, as we look at that and say, look, if you want to rebuild and restore things that have been destroyed in so many areas, whether it be morals, or economics or anything else, you have to start at the lowest levels and work up from there. You have to get involved in do something yourself. You can’t wait for others to do something, even if it’s in your local school district or local city council, or local neighborhood or whatever, you’ve got to do something. And so that’s where the name comes from. And that’s how we chose that name. And we use that even today is still the model for what we do is getting people actively involved in rebuilding the things that have been torn down in recent generations.
Well, one of the most important areas that we need to be rebuilding is in education. We’re going to take a quick break, when we come back, let’s talk about what’s happening on that front and what we can do to influence what’s being taught in even the public school classrooms. A lot of times we ignore that if we’re homeschooling or going to private school, we got 80-85% of the kids still learning in those public schools. And it really explains a lot of why socialism and Marxism is now popular among young people. So we’ve got to pay more attention to this area. Stay with us, folks, we’ll be right back a WallBuilders Live.
This is Tim Barton, from WallBuilders with another moment from American history. Meaning today wrongly claimed our Founding Fathers were largely atheists, agnostics, and deist. Certainly, some Founders were less religious than others, but even they were not irreligious. Consider Benjamin Franklin, definitely one of the least religious among them.
Yet, when the delegates at the Constitutional Convention hit an impasse in their deliberations, it was Franklin who called them to prayer, invoking numerous scriptures to make his point. As he reminded them, “God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured in the sacred writings that except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it. I firmly believe this.
So, even the least religious of America’s founders urge public prayer and dependence on God. For more information about the faith of the Founding Fathers, go to wallbuilders.com.
We’re back here on WallBuilders Live. Thanks for staying with us. We’re talking about education today and what we can do to influence what’s being taught in the classrooms. Guys, last week, we had former Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and we were talking about the horrible standards being considered in Minnesota, how much it removes of America’s true history, and how much it focuses in on dividing us through critical race theory. That’s happening across the nation. And so we’ve really got to think about what are we teaching in our education systems about how to be a good citizen? What do you guys think that the main focal point of that should be? Is it at the state level? Is it what we do at our local school districts? How can we do a better job of influencing that?
Well, I think there’s a lot of ways we can do a better job. But I want to add an element that’s going right now that’s really concerning to me. Because we can talk about content and we can talk about how important good content is and how important it is to have truthful content, that when you have truth, you show the good, the bad, the ugly. We know America is not perfect. We know that America has done plenty of bad things in our history. But at the same time, she’s done plenty of good things. Matter of fact, there have been more great moments than there have been bad moments in her history. And so we have to teach all of that, and even the bad moments we can learn from.
I mean, that’s why we’re sporting teams, you review the films after a game because you see the mistakes you made, and you say, alright, let’s don’t do that again, let’s handle this in a different way. So reviewing the good, the bad, the ugly, truth is the objective of what you should have. Even if it’s what we talked about last week with Michele and the fact that Minnesota is just trying to kill all history teaching, except for indoctrination, I mean, content is really important.
Yeah, guys, one of the things too that is probably worth letting people know about is on the WallBuilders website, we have several articles dealing with a 1619 project and a lot of the historical flaws and an inaccuracy, with the 1619 project where they mess up a lot along the way. We have the new book, “The American Story” out of WallBuilders, you can go to wallbuilders.com. It’s also available on Amazon, lots of other places as well.
But “The American Story” starts from Columbus and goes roughly to the end of slavery. And a lot of the narrative the 1619 project proposes is easily disproven when you look at historical fact, and document statistics. And most people don’t know those. So a great place to go to find that is from “The American Story”, that book where we document in detail a lot of American history.
And dad, as you mentioned, even with the good, bad, and ugly, we can easily point out that America had a lot of major mistakes made along the way. And it’s okay saying that, largely the majority of those mistakes have been corrected, and we’re still working to correct other mistakes right now. When I’m saying other mistakes right now, not in the sense of like 1619 project, but as a Christian, we can look back at something like a Roe v. Wade decision and go okay, that’s a problem, that’s a mistake, we need to end abortion. That’s obviously ungodly, and against the premise of the Founding Fathers notion that everybody has inalienable rights and the main purpose of government’s protecting inalienable rights. And the chief among them was the right to life. And so government should be protecting innocent life, not allowing little children to be murdered in their mother’s womb.
So the point is there still things being correct in our nation, there are still things that need to be corrected in our nation. But when you study American history in the context of global history, you recognize America is not perfect, but America certainly has corrected more of the problems than the majority of the other nations of the world, and it’s not even close. And yet, that’s not really what’s being promoted or taught today.
We talked about last week with critical race theory, what most kids are learning is that America is fundamentally flawed, that America is fundamentally evil, and American has done a lot of bad things, and America really just needs to be destroyed the way it is and rebuilt in a very different system. This is part of the Marxist ideology.
And this is even, when you look at a government curriculum being taught in school or the notion of like even civics being taught in school, history being taught in school, this is what kids are learning that America is bad. And actually, there are kids who are even learning that maybe they should go in and be part of protest, because that’s a good way to make a difference and you go out and be in the streets and do things that ultimately are leading to destruction of property. And we’re not against protest, because part of the First Amendment is the right of people to peaceably assemble. Yes, we are totally in favor of peaceably assembling.
Now, it’s also worth noting that peaceably assembling is also what people try to do in churches on Sunday morning when governors have said nope, you cannot peaceably assemble in church on Sunday morning. But we’re not going to tell the cops to stop you when you go riot and loot and destroy buildings. There’s just so many levels of hypocrisy. We’re not against peaceably assembling. We are in favor of protecting private property. And we are in favor of teaching kids good behavior and historical truth in the midst of it. And this is what’s being lost in the classroom.
One of the things that’s happening now is not just that we have bad content, but we’re adding a reinforcement to that. So one of the things we’re going to talk about, Tim, you mentioned, it was Action Civics. And Action Civics is kind of like, you know, for a long time, parents are saying, hey, kids aren’t getting good government and good civics education in school. I mean, they’re not going out to vote, they’re not participating in the process, they’re not doing the things that citizens should. So it’s good to have some Action Civics.
Well, that’s not what this Action Civics says. This Action Civics comes from the premise of like the 1619, and the critical race theory. And so the actions you need to undertake are the things that would be in line with that bad philosophy. And that means you need to burn the system down. Because this thing is so corrupt, it can’t be fixed, it can’t be saved, you got to go out and protest the system, not use the system to fix it, you got to go out and burn it down. And so that’s what this new Action Civics is.
And the problem with that, and I’m going to go back to some athletic stuff, is one of the things we always wanted to teach in athletics, for example, coaching basketball, playing basketball, is muscle memory. So you’d want to take from 500 to 1,000 shots every day, so that you would remember how to shoot as the game got going, as you got tired, and as your mind is getting tired and your body’s wearing down, you want that muscle memory to take over so that you automatically do this.
Well, that’s kind of what’s happening with Action Civics. It’s not that we’re looking at civics content to say, do you have the right form when you make the shot? Or in other words, are you getting the right content in your civics? We’re saying we want you to reinforce that bad habit. We want you to do action to reinforce a bad curriculum with a bad philosophy. So it’s like somebody who’s got a really bad shooting motion and you let them shoot that bad way 500-1000 times a day. I mean, that’s going to tear up their game. And essentially, that’s the result of Action Civics. We’re teaching you to have muscle memory, but it’s negative stuff. We want you to attack. We want you to burn down. We want you to tear it up. So you’re not even looking to get the right content.
And that’s going to be, I think, one of the real dangers we face in the future from what’s being taught right now is they’re being trained to be active, being trained to go out and protest, be trained to go out and tear stuff up if need be. And that’s not what you want from civics.
So Stanley Kurtz is a guy who’s very involved in this. This past week, for example, Tim and I were even on call with several legislators who are very concerned about this kind of Action Civics and where it’s going in state legislatures. A number of states are moving to include Action Civics as part of the curriculum. And so Stanley Kurtz is one of the guys who really keeps up with this. He is a national columnist, really good on educational issues, and he can give us a great update on what’s happening here.
Stanley Kurtz, our special guest today. Stay with us, we’ll be right back on WallBuilders Live.
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Welcome back to WallBuilders Live. Thanks for staying with us. Stanley Kurtz back with us, also has a great article right now in national review, addressing, in facts, legislation that I normally am all excited about, but he’s found some issues with it that I think he’s right on with. Stanley, thanks for coming on, man.
Rick, thanks so much for having me.
Hey, as you probably know, I passed celebrate Freedom Week Bill back in Texas 20 years ago to have kids studying the Declaration in Constitution, pushing for that all over the country. So I was excited to see this happen in Florida with regard to teaching patriotism and those sorts of things. But you’ve pointed out that, hey, wait a minute, this is encouraging some things that we don’t want in the classroom, protesting and all kinds of things like that?
Exactly, Rick. What a lot of traditional and conservative leaning folks don’t yet understand is that the Left has developed its own way of teaching civics, something that actually I would consider anti-civics, almost a complete contradiction to what we should mean and have meant by civics. For the Left, nowadays, when they use the phrase, ‘civic engagement’, what they really mean is getting students to go out and protest and lobby almost always for leftist causes after school and giving them course credit for that, and in fact, mandating that students engage in those kinds of protests. Now they cover it up with nice sounding language like project, you should have a project. Let’s do project-based civics. Let’s do a practicum. But what it really means is political protesting for course credit.
And the danger, obviously, is that the left controls the classroom across the country. I mean, yes, everybody well says, yeah, there’s still some good school districts out there. Yeah, there’s a few. But most classrooms in America now are controlled by the Left. The curriculum is controlled by them. The teachers typically have that mindset. And so if you leave it open-ended like this, the likelihood is that exactly what you’re talking about is what’s going to happen.
Exactly, Rick. And there have even been studies that have looked at what these Action Civics projects actually amount to. And the best study coming from the Texas Public Policy Foundation have found that every single project was on the Left; every protest, every lobbying campaign was on the Left.
And going back to what you said about teachers, which was absolutely correct, the Action Civics people mandate by state law that teachers discuss current controversial issues in class. Now think about the teachers unions, and what their political leanings are. What if you were to mandate teachers to start discussing contemporary issues in the classroom, even the ones who tried to overcome their personal bias would probably have it leak out anyway. And now there is a lot of people, including many teachers don’t even believe in trying to be neutral in the classroom. So that’s what we’re dealing with, just as you said.
What do you think is a good way to balance this, right? So we definitely want to teach being a good citizen, being “an active citizen”, but how do you keep it from moving into this arena of protest on a lot of these Leftist policies?
So right now, I have model legislation posted with the National Association of Scholars at nas.org, it’s called the Partisanship Out of Civics Act. And it is actually model legislation that would prevent civics from being taught in this way from extracurricular political protest from being involved. And there are already a couple of bills in Texas that have picked up on this model legislation and proposed essentially the same thing. So I think that’s the way to go.
What’s the status in Florida now with this Senate bill that you were talking about originally?
The Florida bill that troubled me, fortunately, did not clear the House, or rather they substituted a different bill for the bill that I had expressed concerns about. Now the other bill is not necessarily perfect either. Also, Florida is about to pass a basically good bill that would actually instruct people to compare freedom in America with freedom in totalitarian governments, like Cuba, and the old Soviet Union or China. Is basically a good bill, but it has some language there that could be exploited by the Action Civics folks.
So that’s why even when a state doesn’t pass a direct Action Civics bill, it really needs now to pass one of these I call them POCA, Partisanship Out of Civics Act. That’s P-O-C-A, POCA, they need to pass a POCA bill, so to prevent even good civics bills from being exploited by this new Leftist protest civics movement.
Last thing before I let you go, also in Florida, Governor DeSantis took great stand against critical race theory being taught in the classroom, wants patriotism to be taught and the Constitution to be taught. And they’re working on some new programs in that regard as well. What do you think about that effort? And do you see some good things coming out of it?
I do like the idea. And I’m a strong supporter of President Trump’s executive order. But I must say I’m looking into this now. Some of the states have adapted President Trump’s executive order barring critical race theory in too quick away, and I think they’re potentially causing some problems in the way they frame it. This is a very delicate matter.
When you move from controlling federal employees to trying to deal with state school curriculum, you have to be very careful about the exact framing and language. So some of the bills I like better than others. And some people are consulting with me now about how to phrase some of these bills, because there are ways to inadvertently make mistakes and cause problems.
President Trump’s executive order doesn’t actually mention critical race theory, it mentioned specific concepts. If, for example, you try to ban critical race theory by name, or you say you can’t teach on American propaganda or something like that, it’s going to be an enforcement nightmare, and probably won’t stand up in court. So it can be done and should be done, but it’s got to be done carefully.
Yeah. So there’s some nuances to pay attention to here, very important battle to pay attention to. And we always say to our friends at home school and private school, hey, don’t forget 80-85% of the kids are still going to the public school. So we have to pay attention to these battles, and engage in this. Run for school boards out there, folks. Get in those local school boards, and you can make some decisions on these things. Stanley, always good to have you, man, thank you so much for your time today.
Thank you, Rick.
Stay with us, folks. We’ll be right back with David and Tim Barton.
Hey, guys, we want to let you know about a new resource we have here at WallBuilders called The American Story. For years, people have been asking us to do a history book, and we finally done it. We start with Christopher Columbus and go roughly through Abraham Lincoln. And one of the things that that so often we hear today are about the imperfections of America, or how so many people in America that used to be celebrated or honored really aren’t good or honorable people.
One of the things we acknowledge quickly in the book is that the entire world is full of people who are sinful and need a savior, because the Bible even tells us that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. And yet what we see through history, and certainly is evident in America is how a perfect God uses imperfect people and does great things through them. The story of America is not the story of perfect people. But you see time and time again how God got involved in the process and use these imperfect people to do great things that impacted the entire world from America. To find out more, go to wallbuilders.com and check out The American Story.
This is David Barton with another moment from America’s history. How should we respond if confronted with frustration and conflict? The proper response was given over 200 years ago in a lengthy speech, when Benjamin Franklin told the delegates at the Constitutional Convention, “In this situation of this assembly, groping as it were in the dark to find political truth, how has it happened, sir, that we have not hitherto once thought of humbly applying to the father of lights to illuminate our understanding? Have we now forgotten that powerful friend? Or do we imagine we no longer need his assistance? God governs in the affairs of men. I therefore move that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of heaven and its blessings on our deliberations to be held in this assembly every morning before we proceed to business.”
Benjamin Franklin knew that prayer was the proper response. For more information on God’s hand in American history, contact WallBuilders at 1808REBUILD.
We’re back here on WallBuilders Live. Thanks for staying with us thanks to Stanley Kurtz for joining us today as well. And so guys really, my take home message, I’m wondering if I got this right, my take home message from this is what’s happening in the classroom is something we have to pay attention to. Parents need to know what their kids are being taught. Don’t just assume your kids are being taught good stuff. Go find out if they’re teaching critical race theory. Go find out if they’re doing this Action Civics thing.
And then secondly, we need to influence the legislatures to make sure that they really pay close attention to this and don’t just sign off on what sounds good, being active in civic sounds great. But we really got to dive deeper on this.
Yeah, I think one of the points he made that stuck out to me is the Left really has his own way of teaching civics. And it’s different, dad, I mean, you mentioned that before we got to Stanley is one of the thoughts that a lot of people have is we want our kids to be more active and more engaged. Well, we want people to know how to be engaged in the process, but we want them to do it in a constitutional, moral, ethical way. And we’ve really kind of come to the position where we’ve talked about on the program many times you have political philosophy that says, as long as our side wins, it’s good.
Well, that’s very Machiavellian that the end justifies the means. And that’s not the kind of civics we want to teach our kids. We want to teach our kids if something happens, then you want to work the system, the process the proper way in a moral ethical constitutional manner. And, Rick, as you mentioned, certainly, this needs to happen even from a legislative perspective. There’s things that legislators need to be strategic of how they engage and how they get involved in what they do. But from a parental standpoint, we want to make sure that we know what our kids are learning that we are making sure that they’re not getting bad ideology and philosophy that can impact their future with us not being able to at least speak truth into that.
Well, one of the best ways to know how to speak truth into these things, listen to WallBuilders Live. Every day, we’re going to be giving you all kinds of intellectual ammunition that you can use to engage locally to make sure that those school districts are teaching truth and not teaching this Marxist poison that will destroy our country. You can be a part of that solution. Make sure you’re tuned into WallBuilders Live and you’re sharing these programs with your friends and family. Thanks so much for listening today to WallBuilders Live.