Action Civics: Texas Federation of Republican Women are Mistaken

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As I’ve maintained in a number of posts, Republicans at both the federal and state levels are getting fooled by leftist “action civics” proposals dressed up to look like traditional civics. The problem continues, I’m sorry to say. Probably the most important state-level civics battle is playing out now in Texas, where a number of bad bills have been proposed, along with an excellent bill that would ensure good civics education while blocking leftist political protests masquerading under the name of “civics.” (I review the various Texas civics bills here.)

Unfortunately, the Texas Federation of Republican Women (TFRW) is coming to the state capitol on Thursday to advocate for combining and passing the two very worst “civics” bills, SB 1740 and HB 3211. It’s evident from an email alert sent out to members of TFRW that the actual thrust of what the bad bills will do is not on TFRW’s radar. There is no recognition that the bills TFRW favors will authorize action civics, and no indication that TFRW even understands what action civics is. Instead, TFRW believes it’s fighting to end “indoctrination” in the schools. Nothing could be further from the truth. Both bills favored by TFRW actually open the door to the very leftist indoctrination the group believes that it is fighting.

I hope that grassroots Republicans will get a clue about action civics: what it is, why it’s problematic, and how to recognize bills that mandate it through the fog of euphemism favored by its advocates. Unfortunately, we are not there yet.

There is some encouraging news, however. Texas Republican Party chairman Allen West recently issued a statement forcefully opposing SB 1740 and HB 3211, the very bills mistakenly supported by TFRW.

The best Texas civics bills by far, in my view, are HB 3979 and HB 4093, identical bills filed by Republican state representatives Steve Toth and James White, respectively. Those bills would ensure the teaching of genuine civics, but would also block “action civics,” (mandatory out-of-school political protests disguised as “civics”) and would block Critical Race Theory as well. This is the approach to civics Texas Republicans ought to be supporting. In fact, HB 3979 has gathered some important new co-sponsors since it was first introduced. This bill has momentum, and is set to become a model for the nation on how to fight back against the debasement of civic education for politicized ends.

Stanley Kurtz is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

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