Question Concerning Dreyfuss Initiative

Richard Dreyfuss

Image by A Hermida via Flickr

The Question?

What does Richard Dreyfuss suggest students be taught in ‘Civics’?

In 2006 Dreyfuss made the comment that when terrorist go into Disney World and do something horrible, we will willingly toss the Bill of Rights into the ocean. He suggest that our young people are not ready to lead a free country in a dangerous world. This is one of the reasons he suggest all schools have a civics course of study.

Simply stated, ‘Civics’ is the study of the rights and duties of citizens. Certainly there should be either a course of study in civics or an emphasis on civics in social studies. This should go without saying, so why do we need an initiative such as ‘The Dreyfuss Initiative’ to accomplish something so simple?

Richard Dreyfuss, David Barton, and many other educators realize that American students are not performing well and that ignorance is a big problem in our nation. How can we continue to govern ourselves if we do not understand our own government and are not familiar with our own rule of law? We spend hours arguing and listening to politicians, but we often remain ignorant or allow our youth to grow up without even a fundamental understanding of our government.

Despite the fact that America far outspends other nations on education, our students are outperformed by students from Poland, the Slovak Republic, Czechoslovakia, Iceland, China, Taiwan, Canada, Korea, Wales, and many other nations. America currently has one of the poorest outcomes per education dollar spent among all industrial nations.

I have spent a good deal of time looking and listening at Dreyfuss and this initiative and I have to say that I think his heart is in the right place here. He does want to improve our nation. He believes ‘Civics’ isn’t being taught and he wants true ‘Civics’ taught in public schools. He doesn’t propose how to teach the subject, just that it must be done.

In 2006, Dreyfuss also said that when it comes to teaching our children ‘civics’, a lack of money is not a reasonable excuse. He suggested that educators who understand the importance of civics can find ways to make the subject accessible and exciting, engage students and make parents demand it. He is, however, wrong on one important point. He also said:

“We are the richest country in the history of the world, and can afford to do anything we wish, if we wish it… The trick is to make the powers that be share our wish …”

While we have been the richest country in the history of the world with the highest standard of living, it only takes one or two administrations who fail to understand our economy, our economic system, to put us in second, third or last place. We are no longer the richest nation. We are now a nation deeply in debt with a president who plans to continue to spend borrowed money. How many men and women have bankrupted themselves through the continued spending of borrowed money? Americans must realize that nations also have to accept and live by economy reality and principles!

Here is the point where I feel that Richard Dreyfuss and many others fail to make a connection.  He not only espouses the teaching of ‘Civics’, he also is a very outspoken liberal. Liberalism hasn’t, doesn’t and will never work with our economic system or with our constitution.  Therefore, the choice becomes more than liberalism and conservatism.  It becomes a choice between living in freedom from debt or living in bondage to nations to whom we are indebted.

To teach ‘Civics’, (the study of the rights and duties of citizens) in our public schools we must also teach financial responsibility. A good citizen accepts responsibility. Students must be taught economics as well as civics if our nation is to survive. The steady diet of ‘liberalism’ that is being taught in most colleges cannot continue if students are going to become responsible for themselves and ultimately for the nation.


About jlue

I am a grandmother of seven and I like to garden, read, study the Bible, and spend time with family. I am not very politically active, but very interested in who is elected to lead our country.
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3 Responses to Question Concerning Dreyfuss Initiative

  1. jps says:

    This is a very well thought out and well presented piece regarding this country’s need for more understanding of our nation’s founding principles by our young people, those who are under the age of 40, I think.


  2. paolosilv says:

    I was under the impression that they already taught civics? We had ‘social studies’ which was basic American history, including the Constitution.

    The states that have the highest incomes – Connecticut, NY, California , and Mass, but not NJ- have had mainly liberal democrats running the state for a very long time. I’m not sure what Richard Dreyfuss really intends, but liberalism has been the privilige of the wealthier “blue States.” However much of America considers itself a ‘red state” or a blue state with bluedog (Reagan) Democrats, like Pennsylvania and Ohio.

    I wish they would teach people that fact!


    • jlue says:

      Civics should be covered in social studies. I think it depends upon the system and the individual teachers to some extent. Education is an area where much depends upon the classroom teacher. If ‘civics’ is mandated, that becomes another federal reach into what has been a ‘state’ issue previously.

      As for the states that have higher income, you are right. Do you think that industry and tourism have been at least partly responsible? The industrial states in the north that have lead the agricultural states in the mid-west and south. Unions, too, are partly responsible for the high incomes, but now with the collapse of industry in this country we are seeing a big change.

      I really need to take a better look at which states have a sound economy now and which are going under.

      I found this site, but haven’t really explored it yet. It looks interesting:
      US States Economies


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