Students asserting the right to an adequate civics education have lost their appeal of a federal court ruling that dismissed their suit accusing the state of Rhode Island of failing to prepare them for the duties of citizenship. Like the federal district judge who had ruled in the case, now known as A.C. v. McKee, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit, in Boston, lauded the student plaintiffs for their effort but ultimately concluded that their suit could not prevail. “The students have called attention to critical issues of declining civic engagement and inadequate preparation for participation in civic life at a time when many are concerned about the future of American democracy,” a unaninous three-judge appeals panel said in an unanimous Jan. 11 decision.“Nevertheless, the weight of precedent stands in the students’ way here, and they have not stated any viable claim for relief.”
The lawsuit was filed in 2018 on behalf of 14 students, but was also a proposed class action on behalf of all public school students in Rhode Island. It alleged that state officials have failed to provide students with a meaningful opportunity to obtain an adequate education to prepare them to be capable citizens.
A Virginia legislator unintentionally made the case for better civic education: Gillian Brockell at WP:
Of all the paragraphs in a bill to ban “divisive concepts” from being taught in Virginia public schools, Section B3 may have seemed the most innocuous. After all, it was in the part of the proposal that defined what could actually be taught in history classes, not the myriad things that would be banned or the consequences teachers could face for teaching them, including prosecution and getting fired. Section B3 of the bill, which was sponsored by Republican freshman Del. Wren Williams, defined what could be taught as “the founding documents,” like the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, excerpts from the Federalist Papers, the writings of the Founding Fathers and Alexis de Tocqueville’s classic “Democracy in America.” Oh, and one more thing: “the first debate between Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.”
It was a clear reference to the famed Lincoln-Douglas debates, one of the high points in this country’s intellectual, moral and civic history, but there’s just one problem: Lincoln did not debate Frederick Douglass.
By Friday morning, Frederick Douglass was trending on Twitter, and the bill had been withdrawn.
Frederick Douglass: “Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.” rbscp.lib.rochester.edu/4398