America's colleges and universities fail to increase knowledge about America's history and institutions. There is a trivial difference between college seniors and their freshmen counterparts regarding knowledge of America's heritage. Seniors scored just 1.5 percent higher on average than freshmen, and at many schools, seniors know less than freshmen about America's history, government, foreign affairs, and economy. Overall, college seniors failed the civic literacy exam, with an average score of 53.2 percent, or F, on a traditional grading scale.
Read it and weep (or laugh if you prefer):
Apparently there's negative learning going on. If you so inclined you might consider taking their American Civil Literacy Sample Quiz. (ht: Kitchen Table Math)
- Seniors lack basic knowledge of America's history. More than half, 53.4 percent, could not identify the correct century when the first American colony was established at Jamestown. And 55.4 percent could not recognize Yorktown as the battle that brought the American Revolution to an end (28 percent even thought the Civil War battle at Gettysburg the correct answer).
- College seniors are also ignorant of America's founding documents. Fewer than half, 47.9 percent, recognized that the line "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal," is from the Declaration of Independence. And an overwhelming majority, 72.8 percent, could not correctly identify the source of the idea of "a wall of separation" between church and state.
- More than half of college seniors did not know that the Bill of Rights explicitly prohibits the establishment of an official religion for the United States.
- Nearly half of all college seniors, 49.4 percent, did not know that The Federalist Papers—foundational texts of America's constitutional order—were written in support of the ratification of the U.S. Constitution. Seniors actually scored lower than freshmen on this question by 5.7 percentage points, illustrating negative learning while at college.
- More than 75 percent of college seniors could not identify that the purpose of the Monroe Doctrine was to prevent foreign expansion in the Western Hemisphere.
- Even with their country at war in Iraq, fewer than half of seniors, 45.2 percent, could identify the Baath party as the main source of Saddam Hussein's political support. In fact, 12.2 percent believed that Saddam Hussein found his most reliable supporters in the Communist Party. Almost 5.7 percent chose Israel.