America’s kids don’t know jack about the Constitution, and according to a national Tea Party group, the only way to save them is to have school’s teach the nation’s founding document with materials provided by a controversial conservative group whose founder is one of Glenn Beck’s favorite historians.
Tea Party Patriots, the Georgia-based organization that counts around 1,000 chapters nationwide, is asking its members to pressure schools to teach the Constitution during Constitution Week in September, as they are required to do by a 2004 law. And when schools do teach the founding document, the group is suggesting that they use materials provided by the National Center for Constitutional Studies, a group that claims the country and Constitution were, “established by the hand of God.”
NCCS’s founder, W. Cleon Skousen, became a tea party favorite in recent years when Glenn Beck touted him on his program as an exemplary constitutional scholar. But Skousen’s past is marred by accusations that his work is far from accurate, and at times rife with racism.
In 1982, critics derided one of Skousen’s books, “The 5,000 Year Leap,” as racist for describing African-Americans as “pickaninnies” and claiming that slave owners were the real victims of slavery. Last year, Princeton Historian Sean Wilentz described the book in The New Yorker as a, “treatise that assembles selective quotations and groundless assertions to claim that the U.S. Constitution is rooted not in the Enlightenment but in the Bible.”
The tea party campaign urges members to write letters to their school’s superintendent suggesting the use of NCCS’s materials, and to then pen a follow up round of letters later this summer to ensure the school plans to teach the Constitution. The materials, which come in a $20 package, includes a “A More Perfect Union,” a DVD produced by Mormon college BYU in the late 1980s, as well as copies of the Constitution and an explanatory sheet on the document.
“Patriots should not have to remind schools to teach the history of the most important document in our country,” the Tea Party Patriot’s website states. “That we have to do so is an indication of how awful the public school system has become with regard to teaching U.S. history.”
Tea Party Patriots did not immediately reply to a request for comment from TPM.