Wearing Dunce Cap, Tea Party Tries To Indoctrinate Children With Bad Constitutional History

CAC President Doug Kendall: “I defy the ‘Tea Party Patriots’ to find one credible historian willing to support their view of the Constitution’s history…. To qualify to teach America’s children about the Constitution you need to do more than dress up like James Madison.

Washington, DC – On reports that an organization called the “Tea Party Patriots” is planning to exert pressure on school boards around the country to use highly inaccurate source material to teach children the U.S. Constitution and the history of its creation during this year’s Constitution Week – beginning September 17 – Constitutional Accountability Center issued the following challenge:

“I defy the Tea Party Patriots to find one credible historian willing to support their view of the Constitution’s history,” said Constitutional Accountability Center President Doug Kendall. “Before the Tea Party gets to go into school and teach our children about the Constitution, they need to find a tenured professor on the history faculty on one of any of the 50 highest-rated universities in the United States who will vouch for the accuracy of their teachings. To qualify to teach America’s children about the Constitution you need to do more than dress up like James Madison,” Kendall said.

According to reports, the Tea Party Patriots plan to launch a campaign to get school boards to teach the Constitution using materials from the National Center for Constitutional Studies, an organization founded by W. Cleon Skousen. According to The New York Times and Mother Jones Magazine, NCCS materials and seminars – at times led by some who dress in period costume – teach the views of Skousen, who saw “the Constitution as divinely inspired and on the verge of destruction.”

In addition, while “Skousen conclude[d] that most federal regulatory agencies are unconstitutional, including the Environmental Protection Agency and the Federal Communications Commission,” he also called “for the repeal of the 16th and 17th Amendments, which he view[ed] as an affront to states’ rights, and call[ed] for the elimination of Social Security.” Furthermore, as reported in the Times, attendees at NCCS seminars have been instructed to memorize Skousen’s 28 principles of liberty, derived from his book, The Five Thousand Year Leap. These “principles” juxtapose inspiring quotes from founding-era documents with claims that are clearly rooted in the Bible rather than the Constitution, along with ideologically-charged and disputed claims about the views of the framers.

CAC President Kendall said, “The Tea Party Patriots are peddling constitutional gobbledygook masquerading as history. Yet whether it is Tea Party organizations misrepresenting American history, or Tea Party politicians like Rep. Michele Bachmann not knowing what state the battles of Lexington and Concord were fought in, the Tea Party has utterly disqualified itself from serious discussion of our Constitution’s text and history. America’s school boards must flatly reject the Tea Party Patriots’ attempts to muscle their bad history into our children’s classrooms.”



“The Tea Party Wants to Teach Your Kids About the Constitution,” Mother Jones Magazine, May 12, 2011: http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/05/tea-party-constitution-week-skousen

“Radical Constitutionalism,” Jeffrey Rosen, The New York Times, November 26, 2010 [re the National Center for Constitutional Studies]: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/28/magazine/28FOB-idealab-t.html

“An Action Plan for Constitution Week, Sept. 17-23, 2011,” Tea Party Patriots, http://www.teapartypatriots.org/Constitution.aspx

W. Cleon Skousen’s “28 Principles of Liberty”: http://www.nccs.net/newsletter/nov09nl_print.html

“For Michele Bachmann, a pattern of getting facts wrong,” POLITICO, March 12, 2011: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0311/51179.html

“National University Rankings,” U.S. News & World Report, http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/rankings/national-universities

“Strange Brew: The Constitution According to the Tea Party,” Constitutional Accountability Center series: http://theusconstitution.org/text-history/series/strange-brew


Constitutional Accountability Center (www.theusconstitution.org) is a think tank, public interest law firm, and action center dedicated to fulfilling the progressive promise of the Constitution’s text and history.