<< The Body Politic

AEI: Professional hand-wringing tax-free since 1943

Thursday, October 7th, 2010

The Washington Times editorial page wrote about our teacher survey yesterday. While we always appreciate a mention, we were a bit amused by their take on the report:

The [government’s] new report–“Civic Life in America: Key Findings on the Civil Health of the Nation”–isn’t needed because private organizations regularly do similar surveys without confiscating taxpayer funds. Last week, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) issued “High Schools, Civics and Citizenship: What Social Studies Teachers Think and Do.” Every year, the Intercollegiate Studies Institute produces a report that measures how well–or badly–students and recent graduates do on measures of civic literacy. Numerous studies like these provide fodder for social introspection and plenty of hand-wringing tax-free. [Emphasis added.]

All joking aside, the editorial board did have an important point to make:

One major difference does emerge from bureaucrat-run projects. Private groups regularly find American schools doing a poor job preparing children for citizenship. The new government report, in contrast, finds everything hunky-dory–and oh-so-politically correct. […]

Compare what AEI found: “Only 20 percent of [civics] teachers put teaching key facts, dates and major events at the top of their list.” Half of civics teachers think it’s important students “internalize core values like tolerance and equality,” but only about 40 percent think it’s important to “understand the key principles of American government.” Among the key principles another 40 percent scoff at are “federalism, separation of powers and checks and balances”–in other words, all the things that keep government limited rather than all-powerful.