Civics lesson


A certain kind of bias has long been suspected in public education but has always been vigorously denied.

So, I commend Wakefield School Committee member Greg Liakos for his honesty and forthrightness this week in loudly and proudly confirming what many have long believed.

He brought politics into the School Committee meeting Tuesday night, and if any other School Committee member had a problem with that, they said nothing, which also speaks volumes.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Mr. Liakos was extolling the efforts underway in the Wakefield schools to fulfill the requirements of state legislation passed in 2018 designed to strengthen civics education in the Massachusetts public schools.

The law, which Mr. Liakos quoted in part, is intended to “promote student abilities related to the analysis of complex issues, consideration of different perspectives, logical reasoning with supportive evidence, engagement in civil discourse and understand the connections between federal, state and local policies.”

Mr. Liakos said that he agreed with the sentiment that, now more than ever, students need to learn how to engage in civil discourse and how to be active citizens who seek to bring about positive change.

He should probably have stopped there, but he was on a roll.

“What we’ve seen over the last four years, culminating in the tragedy of Jan. 6, is in my opinion a profound failure of American civic education,” Mr. Liakos intoned. “Millions of our citizens have been manipulated by dangerous demagogues like President Trump and his enablers, many of them vulnerable because they never learned to separate truth from lies and never understood the core principles and practices of American democracy.

“So,” Mr. Liakos concluded, “I just wanted to applaud and encourage the work of the Wakefield Public Schools to foster better civic education so we can do our part here locally to help ensure that this national nightmare does not recur.”

And there you have it.

As a high-ranking school official, Mr. Liakos has sent a strong and unambiguous message concerning what direction civic education in our public schools should take. Parents no longer have to guess or wonder what their kids are learning. Mr. Liakos has laid it all out.

It’s also important for parents and voters to know how they are viewed by their leaders; that they are seen as benighted rubes devoid of moral values, who lack critical thinking ability and are utterly ignorant of the ways of democracy.

So, on behalf of the thousands of Wakefield citizens who do not hate the president of their country, I applaud Mr. Liakos, as a school leader, for finally dispelling the fiction of ideological neutrality in public education.

You have provided a public service that’s been long overdue.

[This column originally appeared in the January 14, 2021 Wakefield Daily Item.]

One Response to “Civics lesson”

  1. 1 John Breithaupt

    Mark, Good column, as usual. I am unable to agree with you, as usual. What else is new.

    Anyway, if I had children in school, I would want them to take a civics class. And if, in civics class, they were to learn that public figures have an obligation to tell the truth, to treat their opponents with respect, to do their homework so that they know what they are talking about, to admit their mistakes and learn from them — I would be very happy with that. — even if it made them see that Donald Trump is unfit all around to hold public office.

    And I would want them to learn about the dangerous demagogues of American history, so that they would be able to recognize new demagogues as they arise. Greg Liakos is spot on when he says that Trump is one such figure.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: