Civics Lesson Test

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    Apr 09, 2010 12:31 PM GMT
    (April 8th) -- On this day 97 years ago, the 17th Amendment was ratified, changing the way we elect senators. Not that many college students would know anything about it, either when they get to college or when they graduate.

    For the past five years, the Intercollegiate Studies Institute has tried to measure how well colleges and universities do in giving their students a basic understanding of America's core history, key texts, and enduring political and economic institutions.

    The results aren't pretty.

    Half of the 14,000 incoming freshmen tested failed the 60-question multiple-choice test, getting just half the questions right. Worse, they barely know any more when they graduate, with seniors scoring 54 percent correct. No school, not even Harvard or Yale, got above a 69 percent average among seniors. Worse still, in some schools, students did worse coming out than going in.

    At right is a sampling of the questions. (You can take a more complete version of the test on our Web site.http://www.americancivicliteracy.org/resources/quiz.aspx) Some of the most missed questions by students dealt with such fundamental American concepts as judicial review, George Washington's warning against "foreign entanglements," the Monroe Doctrine, "The Federalist Papers" and basic details of the Revolutionary and Civil wars.

    Colleges like to pride themselves on preparing their young citizens to become the future leaders of the Republic, but how can you be an effective leader if you don't know the story of how our nation's past leaders grappled with the perennial challenges of governing a free people?

    So, what should we make of this?

    First, there's clearly room for vast improvement on the part of all colleges and universities when it comes to effectively teaching America's history and institutions. No school did terribly well.

    Second, prestige doesn't necessarily guarantee quality and excellence. In fact, most of the schools on the losing side were in the elite category. And while schools like Johns Hopkins do a better job attracting smarter students, when it comes to actually doing the job that colleges are paid to do -- promoting learning -- little schools like Rhodes College and Murray State leave them in the dust. Clearly, exorbitant tuitions don't guarantee a curricula that ensures that students learn the basics about American history and government.

    Finally, parents and taxpayers who pay the bills of American higher education need to start holding colleges accountable for the actual outputs of their academic programming and, if necessary, start demanding more transparency in terms of what is taught on their campuses.

    Dr. Richard Brake is co-chair of Intercollegiate Studies Institute's National Civic Literacy Board. For more details regarding ISI's past and current civic literacy studies, and to take the test online, please go to www.americancivicliteracy.org.
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    Apr 09, 2010 12:34 PM GMT
    I haven't been in school in over 25 years now, nor really thought about the subjects that often, I have a major headache, I haven't had my first cup of coffee yet...and I still scored 78%.
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    Apr 09, 2010 2:21 PM GMT
    "You answered 30 out of 33 correctly — 90.91 %"

    Many of the questions concerned historical events rather than the mechanics of the federal government.

    Too many policy decisions are based on what "feels right" or "seems fair" rather than what's in the Constitution.

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    Apr 09, 2010 3:06 PM GMT
    Really, it is a lot of trivia.

    Reading up on the group that conducts this survey, they are wacky.

    From the WikiIn the summer of 2005, ISI Books, the imprint of ISI, published It Takes a Family: Conservatism and the Common Good, by Pennsylvania Republican Senator Rick Santorum, which premiered at #13 on the New York Times best sellers list. The controversial book gained the focus of state and national attention during the unsuccessful 2006 reelection campaign of Senator Santorum.

    One of ISI's stated goals is placement of conservative and libertarian student newspapers on major college campuses in America. ISI administers the Collegiate Network (CN), and each year, the CN provides financial and technical assistance to a network of member publications.


    Rick Santorum? One of the biggest homophobes to have been in the Senate. They also, according to the linked page, made a list of 50 worst books of the 20th century. At #3 is the Kinsey Report. So really, I could give a shit what these people think is important.
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    Apr 09, 2010 3:10 PM GMT
    I'm shocked, but I didn't miss one.
  • rj303

    Posts: 42

    Apr 09, 2010 4:40 PM GMT
    Damn, 64% It's not my fault though, I blame the question format. They were purposefully misleading! Lol, ok, it's my fault but I did only have a government class once in High School three years ago.
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    Apr 09, 2010 5:10 PM GMT
    Well that test wasn't at all geared towards neo-liberalism...
  • DiverScience

    Posts: 1426

    Apr 09, 2010 5:16 PM GMT
    Well that had a lot of useless in it.

    Some rational things too, but a lot of pointless. More questions like the ones about who has the power of war declaration. Less trivia.
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    Apr 09, 2010 5:39 PM GMT
    I answered 27 out of 33 correctly - 81.82%. I get a "B"
  • tokugawa

    Posts: 945

    Apr 09, 2010 6:04 PM GMT
    You answered 32 out of 33 correctly — 96.97 %
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    Apr 11, 2010 3:23 PM GMT
    PAJohn said
    MunchingZombie said

    Rick Santorum? One of the biggest homophobes to have been in the Senate. They also, according to the linked page, made a list of 50 worst books of the 20th century. At #3 is the Kinsey Report. So really, I could give a shit what these people think is important.


    According to UrbanDictionary.com the word santorum is defined as follows:

    SANTORUM: The sometimes frothy, usually slimy, amalgam of lubricant, stray fecal matter, and ejaculate that leaks out of the receiving partner's anus after a session of anal intercourse. Named, by popular demand and usage, after legislator Rick Santorum because of his homophobic political statements.


    Thanks Dan Savage! icon_biggrin.gif