1776 Commission urges states: Oppose Biden funding for 'teaching of racial discrimination' in K-12

Disbanded Trump administration group says federal government trying to circumvent Constitution's reservation of power over education to states and localities.

Published: May 24, 2021 4:25pm

Updated: May 25, 2021 11:29am

A Trump administration commission tasked with promoting "patriotic education" is calling on the Biden administration to withdraw a proposal to fund history and civics programs informed by critical race theory (CRT).

The 1776 Commission met in D.C. Monday despite being disbanded by President Biden on his first day in office. It published its final report just two days before the presidential transfer of power.

The proposed federal rule would prioritize funding for history and civics curricula that consider "systemic marginalization, biases, inequities, and discriminatory policy and practice in American history" and incorporate "racially, ethnically, culturally, and linguistically diverse perspectives." It favorably cites Boston University professor Ibram Kendi, the foremost popularizer of "anti-racism," and the New York Times' 1619 Project.

The commission is concerned the proposal, whose public comment period closed on Wednesday, "actually encourages and seeks to direct federal funds to the teaching of racial discrimination in America's elementary and secondary school systems," according to a statement it released Monday afternoon.

States should also oppose "race-based pedagogy," especially if the curricula is "imposed by the federal government," the statement reads. The commission encourages states, counties and localities to set up their own 1776 commissions to prepare for the 250th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence in 2026.

The statement praises federalism and the primary role of parents in protecting their children from being "taught false narratives or fed hateful lies about our country." Like-minded people should run for school boards, and states and localities should reform their curricula to "teach our true history."

The federal government is seeking to circumvent the Constitution's reservation to the states of unenumerated federal powers (like a power to nationalize educational standards) by incentivizing school districts to adopt its "one-size-fits-all" proposal, which like the Common Core standards is a "blueprint for trivializing and mechanizing learning," the commission said.

The panel submitted a shorter version of its statement for the federal rulemaking, which drew nearly 24,000 comments.

The commission is led by Larry Arnn, president of non-taxpayer-funded Hillsdale College, and Carol Swain, a retired law professor at Vanderbilt University. It also includes Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights member Peter Kirsanow, historian Victor Davis Hanson and former Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant. 

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