Education Secretary Arne Duncan sounded delusional as he pushed his department’s new Civic Learning and Engagement in Democracy initiative. He talked about the importance of teaching civics in our schools, forgetting that the best way to teach is by example. Does Duncan really believe that Washington in the time of Barack Obama teaches a lesson that is anything but destructive to our democracy?
It is sadly ironic that the agency promoting the teaching of democratic values is under the thumb of an anti-democratic administration. Speaking from the White House “For Democracy’s Future” earlier this month, Duncan reminded us that:
Since our founding, America’s leaders have recognized that one of the most important purposes of educating the nation’s citizens is to protect and strengthen democracy.¹
The Department of Education’s call to action, Advancing Civic Learning and Engagement in Democracy, has an image of the Constitution emblazoned on the cover. Bureaucrats in service to the Obama administration should be ashamed of making references to the Constitution, the Founding Fathers, or any other symbols of American democracy. Duncan’s department has shamelessly joined the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security as a visible example of democracy gone awry, proving to Americans that our federal agencies are little more than willing dupes for the White House.
Duncan said of education that “It’s about how we engage in a vibrant democracy.”² Here are five civics lessons that show how Americans have been engaged by Washington.
Civics Lesson #1: If unions are happy, our schools will not be shut down.
Advocating collaboration with teacher’s unions, our education secretary testified that collective bargaining will create confidence in the public school system when we have no money³ (see: Union Stance Ridicules Duncan’s Collaboration Efforts). He is right about one thing. If we grovel at the feet of union bosses we do not have to worry that our taxpayer-supported schools will be shut down because of disputes over collective bargaining, wages, benefits, and other public employee entitlements. Arne Duncan helped the cause by giving unions something so strive for, asserting that good teachers should make $150,000 per year (see: Will Taxpayers Support Raising Teacher Salaries 165%?).
Civics Lesson #2: Citizens of other countries who are here illegally have the same right to an education as the children of taxpaying citizens.
Granted, this is not the Department of Education’s fault, despite Duncan’s support for the DREAM Act. The Justice Department made an example of Alabama, letting taxpayers know that checking the immigration status of schoolchildren would be punished. The lesson for students? States need to learn their place, and when they disagree with the White House’s radical agenda they should be sued.
Civics Lesson #3: Ethnicity matters in America. It matters a lot.
Who would have thought that in the color blind USA our government would resort to declaring that America’s future rests in the hands of a single ethnic group? Barack Obama did precisely that by declaring that our future depends on Latinos, particularly Hispanics. Arne Duncan followed suit and helped to parrot the party line (see: Obama Gives His Chosen a Slogan). This lesson is especially valuable because it also teaches the importance of vote getting in a democracy, and growing your support base, even if those you want to add will not have the right to vote until you can turn them into citizens. Homeland Security is doing its best to help, leaving law-abiding illegals alone until the time is right for the president to resurrect his immigration bill (see: Is The Homeland Security Enforcement Problem Caused by Resources, or Obama?).
Civics Lesson #4: Foreign citizens deserve benefits we deny to Americans.
The middle class is hurting. College is out of reach for many families. No matter. Citizens can wait. We only have so much money, and there are illegal immigrants aplenty who will benefit from reduced, taxpayer-supported tuition. Permissive states found a loophole in a federal law that should outlaw the benefit, but not surprisingly no one in the White House or the Department of Justice is talking lawsuits over this offense.
Civics Lesson #5: Provoking class hatred is a great way to raise money and stay in office.
America may be the land of opportunity, or at least it used to be, but too much opportunity can turn a good middle class American into an evil wealthy American. Never fear. If Democrats in Congress get the upper hand again this is one more flaw in our democracy we can fix. As long as we keep electing politicians who promise to punish wealth we will have a ready source of spending money and our government will help keep our nightmares of success at bay.
Civics Lesson #6: A president who fails to get his way should ignore Congress.
The president has separated himself from our legislature, striking out on his own when Congress refuses to share his vision for the future. This is a great opportunity to learn how the separation of powers can be circumvented, and the extremes politicians will go to when they fear that their reelection prospects are in danger. The president even has a slogan for his one man crusade, We Can’t Wait, as he seeks popular support in lieu of congressional backing.
Any civics lessons you would like to share? Send me a comment and we will add them to the list.