Brandon Dutcher | January 3, 2023
‘Civics’ group says HB 1775 will ‘limit civic education’
OCPA has long recognized the importance of civics education in public schools.
The late OCPA distinguished fellow J. Rufus Fears wrote and spoke on this topic often. Moreover, OCPA’s Trent England is helping Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis revamp civics education in the Sunshine State by “teaching the truth about American history and government, with an emphasis on what is good about our nation.” And I served on the steering committee for American Birthright, a set of model K-12 social studies standards that can serve as a framework for Oklahoma.
These things are actual civics—not to be confused with the counterfeit civics pushed by groups like Generation Citizen, a national organization which “smuggles propaganda and vocational training for progressive activism into Oklahoma schools and calls it ‘action civics.’”
Group Calls HB 1775 a ‘Censorship Law’
Barriers to accessing quality civic education persist, and are most pronounced among communities of color: White students are three times more likely to achieve a proficient score in civic assessments than Black and Latinx students. These challenges have been compounded by a growing movement to outlaw nuanced teaching of our nation’s past and enduring systemic inequities. Currently, 11 states have proposed legislation that would limit civic education, and states like Oklahoma, Texas, Florida, and North Dakota have already passed limitations.
As you can see from the paragraph above, Oklahoma’s HB 1775 continues to be misrepresented. (The misrepresentation is unsurprising coming from a group which uses the word “Latinx” and which stubbornly clings to the belief that Jussie Smollett’s “attack is not isolated, but rather part of a larger national pattern”—but it is a misrepresentation nonetheless.) Generation Citizen accuses Oklahoma’s law of “banning critical classroom discussions on race.” The group’s Oklahoma director (pronouns in bio: she/her) says Generation Citizen Oklahoma strongly opposes “anti-civics education” legislation like HB 1775. She calls it a “censorship law” and supports challenging it in court.
We also learn from Generation Citizen’s annual report that its funders include, among others, the Bezos Family Foundation, the Jennifer and Jonathan Allan Soros Foundation, the Black Voices for Black Justice Fund, the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, the Inasmuch Foundation, and the George Kaiser Family Foundation.
Oklahomans on the group’s “teacher leadership board” include a Putnam City North social studies teacher (and faculty advisor for the group Spectrum LGBTQIA+) who proudly promotes “radical social justice in Oklahoma public schools.”
Let 16-Year-Olds Vote?
The group makes headlines for other reasons, too. “Generation Citizen (GC), a nonprofit funded by the leftist Foundation for Civic Leadership, has a national campaign to lower the federal voting age to 16,” Victoria Marshall recently reported (“Leftists aim to expedite the public-school-to-Democrat-voter pipeline with votes for 16-year-olds”).
After two-thirds of young voters backed Democrat House candidates in the 2022 midterms (and 27 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 cast ballots), Democrats are doing everything they can to capitalize on the youth vote, including adding mindless, Zoomer high-schoolers to their ranks. This is why there are countless leftist nonprofits dedicated to increasing the youth vote. “If you change who can vote, you can change the outcome of elections,” executive director of the Honest Elections Project Jason Snead told The Federalist. “This is something the left’s been pushing for quite a while—along with enfranchising noncitizens and automatic restoration of felon voting rights. They’re always looking for new people to bring into the election system and calculating the targeted groups who will be more likely to vote Democratic.”
What to Do
Oklahoma lawmakers should ban “action civics,” which teaches Oklahoma students community-organizing techniques so they can advance political goals rather than teaching actual civics.
The Oklahoma State Department of Education should stop promoting Generation Citizen and “action civics.”
Following the lead of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Oklahoma policymakers should launch a “multi-pronged effort to revamp civics education.”
Oklahoma policymakers should empower parents to choose a school that teaches civics properly. Create an Education Savings Account program which allows parents to use a portion of their child’s per-student funding for school tuition, tutoring, online education programs, therapies, curricular materials, and more.
Senior Vice President
Brandon Dutcher is OCPA’s senior vice president. Originally an OCPA board member, he joined the staff in 1995. Dutcher received his bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Oklahoma. He received a master’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in public policy from Regent University. Dutcher is listed in the Heritage Foundation Guide to Public Policy Experts, and is editor of the book Oklahoma Policy Blueprint, which was praised by Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman as “thorough, well-informed, and highly sophisticated.” His award-winning articles have appeared in Investor’s Business Daily, WORLD magazine, Forbes.com, Mises.org, The Oklahoman, the Tulsa World, and 200 newspapers throughout Oklahoma and the U.S. He and his wife, Susie, have six children and live in Edmond.