Americans Fail Civics Quiz Miserably

By
Real Estate Agent with 1st Action Real Estate
heritage

The Intercollegiate Studies Institute has just released study results that point out a disappointing, but not surprising, lack of knowledge by Americans about some of our most basic civic literacy. During the past 2 years ISI has quizzed 14,000 Freshmen and Seniors at 50 colleges nationwide with a 60 question multiple-choice exam on basic knowledge of American Heritage. Freshmen scored 51.25% on average for the two years while Seniors averaged 53.7%. Jeez, four years of college tuition and your knowledge of fundamental American civics only increases by 1 1/2%. Party on, Garth.

This year ISI decided to learn more about the real-world consequences of this collegiate failure. They came up with a test of 33 questions that was distributed randomly to 2,508 American adults. The test was designed to see if Americans became any more knowledgeable of how our country works after college, or if that low point in gathering critical knowledge was as good as it was going to get

Well, you make the call. From a starting point where only half our college educated citizens know diddly about our country and system of government, do people get any smarter as they age? As they have to vote for candidates, raise families, pay taxes, get jobs and suffer the consequences of their actions, do they take the time to become any more knowledgeable of the basics of how the whole system works? 

FAIL! It probably comes as no surprise that we fail. With an overall average of just 49%, liberals score 49%, conservatives score 48%, Republicans score 51% and Democrats score 49%. Nice. Here are a few specifics:

  • Only 49% can name the three branches of government. Actually, if you look at the test, you don't even have to name them - it's multiple choice the names are already there. (Legislative, Judicial & Executive). Other choices - federal, state & local; bureaucratic, industry & military. 
  • The oft quoted term "government of the people, by the people and for the people" comes from where? Only 21% knew that Abe Lincoln coined that phrase in his Gettysburg Address. Other choices - The Constitution; the 'I Have A Dream' speech.
  • Only 54% could identify a basic description of our free enterprise system. (Well, that explains the last election).
  • Just 27% know the First Amendment guarantees freedom of religion.
  • A whopping 25% believe the U.S. Congress shares foreign policy powers with the United Nations.
Other 'trick' questions include
  • 'Who is the Commander in Chief of the US military?' 
  • Name two countries we were at war with during the Second World War? 
  • Business Profit Is...? 
  • The Purpose of the Electoral College is...?
The ISI website summarizes the results by a variety of demographic, geographic and ethnic breakdowns. Some of the results may surprise you, all the results should disappoint you. You can view the report card here.

ISI posted 5 major findings or conclusions based on their results including:
  1. Americans Fail the Civic Literacy Test
  2. Colleges need to start teaching America's Heritage.
  3. Colleges currently add little to Civic Knowledge.
  4. Television - including TV News - 'Dumbs Down' America.
  5. Elected Officials scored lower than the general public.  
If you feel like challenging the odds, you can take the quiz yourself by going to the American Civics Literacy Quiz. It's an eye opening experience. Now might be a good time to heed the warning of Thomas Jefferson who advised "If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be."
Well, that's just my opinion - I could be wrong.
Gene Wunderlich - Selling Southwest California Homes including Temecula, Murrieta & The Southern California Wine Country
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Remember, Don't wait to buy real estate - Buy real estate and wait.
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' Americans Fail Basic Civics Test Miserably'
THE OPINIONS IN THIS COMMENTARY ARE STRICTLY GENE WUNDERLICH's PERSONAL OPINION. WHILE ANY REASONABLE &/or RATIONAL PERSON SHOULD AGREE, THESE VIEWS MAY NOT REFLECT THOSE OF ACTIVERAIN, COLDWELL BANKER RESIDENTIAL BROKERAGE OR ANY  LOCAL, STATE OR MENTAL INSTITUTION.


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Rainer
24,817
David Wang
Prudential California Realty - Millbrae, CA
Prudential | 650.504.8190

Gene this is a funny and serious blog, having immigrated here from another country you have to pass a citizen test, which I think is pretty much the question that the freshman and seniors had to answer, I have always wondered how the population would do who were born here?

No matter how poorly anyone did on the test what makes USA great is that you won't die because of a missed answer.  phew!

Dec 03, 2008 12:56 PM #1
Rainmaker
225,023
Gene Wunderlich
1st Action Real Estate - Murrieta, CA
Realtor & Legislative Liaison

David - many of the questions come directly from the test administered to those seeking citizenship. People born here tend to take our freedoms and rights for granted - they've never had to fight to win them or preserve them. They are free to pursue their ignorance precisely for that reason. I don't know that's a freedom our founding fathers had in mind but it does make us great (unless and until that ignorance destroys us).

Dec 03, 2008 01:18 PM #2
Rainmaker
111,067
Steven Wright
Home Real Estate - Aurora, CO
CRS - Home Real Estate - 720-989-5283

Needless to say this is very sad. Interestingly enough I heard of a similar test that was given to our elected officials and they failed to.

Dec 03, 2008 01:19 PM #3
Rainer
92,200
x Bye Bye
x - Bay Minette, AL
Delete Account

Gene - I am not surprised.  The state of our educational system in this country is sad at best and criminal at worst.  I missed four of the questions (scored 87.88%).  I have learned not one; but, four things today. Thanks for the education.

Everybody take the test!

Dec 07, 2008 06:59 AM #4
Rainmaker
1,777,642
William Feela
WHISPERING PINES REALTY - North Branch, MN
Realtor, Whispering Pines Realty 651-674-5999 No.

This is one good reason that I do not like the push to register voters...most have no idea what is going on or what anyone stads for!

Dec 07, 2008 09:08 PM #5
Rainmaker
225,023
Gene Wunderlich
1st Action Real Estate - Murrieta, CA
Realtor & Legislative Liaison

William - I'm with you. I used to harangue people to get out and vote but hey - if they don't know and don't care, they're likely to just screw it up and cancel out my vote. Today I tell them just to sit home and watch it on TV. I'll go out and vote for 'em.

Brian - It is a fascinating test. Missing only 4 puts you way ahead of the national average and light years ahead of the people in DC making the decisions that affect our way of life. Wiffff - that was a cold shiver that just went down my spine.

Dec 08, 2008 08:00 PM #6
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Rainmaker
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Gene Wunderlich

Realtor & Legislative Liaison
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