Several Hundred UNC-Chapel Hill professors have signed a letter opposing H.B. 96 that, if initiated, will require a course in U.S. Civics to qualify for graduation from any of the state supported universities or colleges and from the state’s community college system. The bill, Reclaiming College Education on America’s Constitutional Heritage Act (REACH Act) is the brain-child of local resident Jameson Broggi, currently serving the U.S. Marine Corps as an attorney. The story of his efforts ap-peared in Wednesday’s News-Times. The act has passed the N.C. House of Representatives but is lingering in the state senate where UNC lobbyists are fighting its passage. Following is an opinion piece regarding the REACH Act by Rob Schwarzwalder appearing in the Washington Stand.
Oh, the preening of some academic scholars. Advanced degrees, tenure, and insulation from market-based competition cre-ate within them a sense of superiority which to challenge is like questioning the rotation of the earth around the sun.
Occasionally, though, the scholastic earth can be thrown off its axis.
This is occurring today in North Carolina, where House Bill 96 would mandate all college students in the state to take a three credit-hour class in which students would read the following texts:
“The Constitution of the United States of America. The Declaration of Independence. The Emancipation Proclamation. At least five essays from the Federalist Papers, as determined by the instructor. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Letter from Birming-ham Jail. The Gettysburg Address. The North Carolina State Constitution.”
In other words, reading and interacting with texts central to American history, government, and political philosophy would be required by students who will, as college and university graduates, go on to help lead in their fields — in America.
H.B. 96 comes in light of the absurdity of many of the other courses required and offered at North Carolina schools. As re-ported by the Carolina Journal’s Alex Baltzegar, the state’s flagship school, the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, “re-quires three-credit-hour courses in ‘Global Understanding’ and ‘Power, Difference, & Inequality,’ but not in American gov-ernment.”
Yet this simple obligation to teach the Declaration, et al, apparently would be too much for many of the Tarheel State’s edu-cators to fulfill. “History courses are necessary, but I think politicians need to stay out of our universities,” according to histo-ry professor Jürgen Buchenau of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. “They don’t want history to be taught. They want a certain type of history to be taught.”
This is hard to understand; no one is calling for students to be propagandized as part of some extreme right-wing plot to Re-publicanize the undergraduates of America. The North Carolina legislature is not instructing anyone what to say about the texts involved, only that these texts be read. This is intellectual coercion?
Yet now, nearly 700 North Carolina professors have signed a letter protesting the bill since it “violates core principles of ac-ademic freedom.” You see, having students read and write about these documents “substitutes ideological force-feeding for the intellectual expertise of faculty.”
“Intellectual expertise” — there you have it, a bald expression of the kind of elitism that provoked the American Revolution in the first place. Pomposity led London’s imperial elite to treat British citizens in the colonies as wayward children instead of equals under the law. Oppression increased and, with it, the resistance of colonial subjects. This resistance led ultimately to the creation of a new nation. Ours.
In addition to H.B. 96’s affront to the sublime purity of the academic mind, I suspect that another reason these instructors are rising as one against its provisions is that many of them have no expertise whatsoever in the Constitution and its interpretation or the natural law convictions of Dr. King.
Grasping the sophisticated arguments of the Federalist Papers might detract from the focus of North Carolina’s self-chosen people on such vital matters as History 236, “Sex and American History” or History 479, “History of Female Sexualities.” Then, of course, there are “courses on ‘Comparative Queer Politics,’ ‘Gender and Sexuality in Africa,’ ‘Islam and Sexual Di-versity,’ ‘Animals in Japanese Religion,’ ‘Global Whiteness,’” and so forth.
Yes, there are many worthy courses in the UNC-Chapel Hill history curriculum taught by fine scholars. My sarcasm is gen-erated not only by the ostentation of the letter noted earlier but by the failure of my peers in the academy to recognize the im-portance of students leaving college with a working understanding of the founding principles of our country. On the other hand, this failure might really be of a different sort, one grounded in the belief of many of today’s historians that those princi-ples are illegitimate or even harmful.
In other words, were I a betting man, I’d wager that many of these “experts” in history neither understand nor believe in such things as “the laws of nature and of nature’s God,” that our rights are gifts of a Creator, that representative self-government requires a definite kind of virtue among the citizens who compose it, or that human equality is based on God’s decree.
We can hope that reading the texts listed in H.B. 96 will have the same invigorating and patriotizing effect on this generation of students as they have on so many others. In spite of the best efforts of the “intellectual experts” to the contrary.
Rob Schwarzwalder is Senior Lecturer in Regent University's Honors College.
It’s like Friday Night Smackdown with the MAGA crowd. These simplistic bills that stir unwarranted controversy over simple issues that most people agree is common sense is part of the MAGA hope to destroy public education by making it seem more like a villain.
The reason we don’t need to waste student time, tuition money and tax dollars on kids re taking Civics is because NC students already have to learn all the points of the bill to graduate high school in NC.
It makes for good theatrics and political boogey man to make it seem as college professors are battling the content of our founding documents instead of battling weak content for higher education.
I’m sure all schools offer these Civics classes as an elective.
Higher education expands to world history as the credit needed to graduate.
It’s all Wrestling!
Higher education is for specialization, heaping unrelated requirements on all students regardless of their field of study is wasteful and costly. I really miss small government GOP. This "all up your stuff" GOP makes the dems look almost reasonable.
The Build Back Better folks are against the requirements of US Civics classes being required of college students. No need for folks to have a basic understanding of how our government works and the rights and responsibilities of citizens.
BBB would rather keep a less informed society and treat citizens as Mushrooms.
.. Civics in 9th grade and US History in 11th grade. These are the required courses to graduate high school in NC that actually go a little further than basic understanding.(Edited by staff.)
I understand how bidens infrastructure bill, build back better, which was passed with bipartisan support creates such ire. In comparison the gop got almost 2 trillion in deficit spending TaxCut for the wealthiest corporations and individuals.
Meanwhile the actual topic..constitutional study is important, that is why it is taught in middle and high-school history classes. Trying to compel it over and over is what? Dog and pony show? Political virtue signaling? I would rather see financial literacy, first aid, and cult awareness as mandated courses. As Patrick Johnson said in..1709 " Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel "
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