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February in Brief

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TFAS students, alumni and supporters were busy in the month of February affecting change in civic education, contributing to the protests in Venezuela and commenting on public policy.

Two Members of the TFAS Network Work to Reform Civic Education

On Jan. 28, TFAS Trustee Emeritus and Purdue President Mitch Daniels proposed a plan to implement a civics test for all students at Purdue. The civics test would include questions inspired by the actual U.S. naturalization test and would be a graduation requirement for students.

We would like to be able certify that in addition to the other positive accomplishments here at Purdue, you are leaving with this fundamental understanding. I think it would be becoming of our institution. And I think it would be a worthy contribution to our individual students.”

– Mitch Daniels, TFAS Trustee Emeritus

The test would include questions about the branches of government, the history of the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights and current political leaders. While the proposal must wait for approval by the University Senate, the plan could be implemented as early as the fall semester.

“A government by consent of the governed really needs informed citizens. We need to know our history,” Daniels told WFLI 18 News.

TFAS alumnus John Carson ’82 is also working to reform civic education in higher education. On Feb. 13, Carson led an effort to shape civic education at the University of Colorado. Carson, a member of the Board of Regents, worked on resolutions to shape and measure civics knowledge and education at the university. The Board of Regents approved four resolutions, including the creation of civics certificates at each of the campuses.

Carson said faculty, administrators and regents have been involved in the process of shaping the resolutions.

“I feel like we reached a mutual agreement that this is an area we should all focus on more,” Carson told the Daily Camera. “[The board and faculty members] will continue to work together to make this a workable program for the university.”

Read more about Carson’s TFAS Journey in our Featured Alumni Spotlight and what lead him to his current position at the University of Colorado.

TFAS Alumnus Calls for Freedom in Venezuela

As the struggle for freedom continues in Venezuela, TFAS alumni are using their voices to call for liberty and freedom in the South American country.

One such alumnus, Fabio Valentini ’19, who completed the TFAS Santiago program just last month, writes to us from the front lines of the crisis. Valentini works in foreign affairs for Vente Venezuela, the opposition political party.

We live in a world where the ideas of freedom are still questioned or censored. [TFAS] programs allow us to overcome these obstacles and move towards a free society in which all individuals are equal to the law and with the same opportunities. As a Venezuelan committed to the fight for freedom in my country, thank you.”

– Fabio Valentini ’19

Meanwhile, in the U.S., TFAS Academic Director Dr. Anne Bradley details how Venezuela’s socialist policies caused the desperate situation we see today, and alumnus Matthew Continetti, Novak ’08, says America must amplify calls from Caracas of “Maduro Must Go.”

Read more about the program that is inspiring young leaders to take on the charge of freedom and liberty abroad in our latest TFAS Santiago recap.

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Así es como termino mi primera semana de clases en este programa organizado por @tfasorg : conocimientos, conocer personas increíbles y lideres en sus países, convivir con tantos paisanos que en cada momento uno se consigue en Santiago y por último, disfrutar de la experiencia en sí. Comenzamos clase bajo una premisa muy importante: “Las ideas tienen consecuencias”. Y si no creen que esta frase haya cambiado el mundo, vean cómo el marxismo comenzó como tal (una idea) y dejó como consecuencia más de 10 millones de muertos. Desde esa premisa desempolvamos los principios de la sociedad libre, esa donde él gobierna se limita al control de la fuerza y donde el individuo está en el centro de la sociedad. Se ha creado un mito sobre el capitalismo que solo conduce, al final del camino, al comunismo… ya sabemos sus consecuencias y si aún hay dudas, los invito cordialmente a visitarme en #Venezuela. . Sigo avanzó en mi formación como individuo para trasmitir estas ideas en esa Venezuela nueva y libre que lograremos. Seguimos🇻🇪. . This is how I finish my first week of classes in this ILA’s program organized by @tfasorg: I hoy New knowledge, meet incredible people and leaders in their countries, live with so many countrymen that every time you meet walking in Santiago and finally, enjoy the experience itself. . We begin classes under a very important premise: "Ideas have consequences". And if you do not believe that this phrase has changed the world, see how Marxism began as such (an idea) and left more than 10 million dead as a consequence of its practice. From that premise we dust off the principles of the free society, where governments are limited to the control of force and in which the individual are at the center of society. There is a global myth about capitalism that only leads, at the end of the road, to communism … and we already know its consequences, if you feel this is not true, I really invite you to come to Venezuela and see how are we living. I continue my personal education to share the ideas of Liberty in that Venezuela that we are going to build. Keep continue 🇻🇪👍🏻 #TFAS #ILA

A post shared by Fabio Luigi Valentini D. (@fabiolvalentini) on

Breaking Down Barriers to Free Enterprise

TFAS alumnus Joseph Duggan ’75 is speaking out against attacks on free enterprise in his home state of Missouri and calling for legislation to give small businesses “common-sense freedom.” Duggan testified before the Missouri House of Representatives earlier this week, throwing his support behind a bill that would pre-empt municipalities from over-regulating and killing home share businesses such as Airbnb. Duggan said that Airbnb and businesses like it play a vital part in the area’s intrastate and interstate commerce.

This new industry provides unprecedented convenience and positive travel experiences for business and personal travelers to our state. The industry also provides significant income to families and revenue to the state and municipal treasuries.”

– Joseph Duggan ’75

Duggan said the bill is urgently needed to prevent “disastrous decisions that could kill entrepreneurial dreams, stifle the rehabilitation and maintenance of our venerable but endangered housing stock, and rob income from working families that want to work even harder for the sake of their children and communities.”


The Oregon state Senate is currently considering a bill that would pass statewide rent control. TFAS alumnus Mark Hemingway, Novak ’02, writes for The Wall Street Journal, that what Oregon really needs is less red-tape for new housing developments.

“Virtually every mainstream economist, from Paul Krugman to Thomas Sowell, has condemned rent control as bad policy. Oregon’s problem isn’t rising rents. It’s the lack of affordable housing boosting prices.”

Book Reviews: In Case You Missed It

Looking for your next read? These TFAS alumni and staff members have some book recommendations for you.

  • Laura Vanderkam ’99, Novak ’06, reviewed Jennifer Traig’s “Act Natural: A Cultural History of Misadventures in Parenting” for The Wall Street Journal.
  • TFAS Academic Director Dr. Anne Bradley writes for the Winter 2019 issue of Modern Age about Dr. Peter Boettke’s newest book, “F.A. Hayek: Economics, Political Economy, and Social Philosophy.”
  • Herb Stupp ’70 reviewed “A Place They Called Home: Reclaiming Citizenship. Stories of a New Jewish Return to Germany” for the Washington Times.
  • Peter Suderman, Novak ’10, writes for Reason about Oren Cass’s new book, “The Once and Future Worker: A Vision for the Renewal of Work in America.”
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