Peter Wood on the New Civics


Earlier, I commented on the report A Crucible Moment, written by a task force under the sponsorship of the Department of Education. In a new article on the administration’s education agenda entitled “Better Citizens,” Peter Wood characterizes the contents of this report as follows:

What it delivered is a plan for diverting a great deal of the time, energy, and resources of American higher education into promoting a progressive ideology that emphasizes diversity, multiculturalism, sustainability, and global citizenship. It works out mainly as a vision of higher education oriented to turning students into political activists committed to the causes of the left.

I think Wood characterizes the report accurately. I would be less disturbed by the “civic education” movement, though, if it were a self-conscious effort to politicize the university. Instead, it seems to me that those who push this movement really don’t see what they’re doing as partisan politics. Their range of vision has narrowed so much that they really do see turning students into political activists as simply teaching good citizenship. It would also bother me less if this were only coming down from the political leadership. Instead, I see the administrations and faculties of universities eagerly joining in the effort to redefine education as the redesigning of American society according to unquestioned slogans.

The Moral Liberal Sociology Editor, Carl L. Bankston III is Professor of Sociology at Tulane University in New Orleans, LA. He is the author and co-author of a number of books and numerous articles published in academic journals. An incomplete list of his books includes: Growing Up American: How Vietnamese Children Adapt to Life in the United States (with Min Zhou, 1998), Blue Collar Bayou: Louisiana Cajuns in the New Economy of Ethnicity (with Jacques Henry, 2002), and A Troubled Dream: The Promise and Failure of School Desegregation in Louisiana (2002), Forced to Fail: The Paradox of School Desegregation (hardback, 2005; paperback, 2007), and Public Education – America’s Civil Religion: A Social History (2009) (all with Stephen J. Caldas). View Professor Bankston’s full bio, here. He blogs at Can These Bones Live?

Copyright © 2011 Carl L. Bankston III.

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