Friday, October 2, 2009

Would Indiana Fare Better? Don't Bet the House

Three out of four Oklahoma high school students don't know who the first U.S. president was.

It gets worse.

Only slightly over a quarter know the two bodies that make up the U.S. Congress.

From a survey of 1000 students, we learn that only 3% could pass the citizenship exam. According to data from the Immigration Service, 92% of those actually taking the exam pass.

Isn't this what we've always known? When something comes free, you take it for granted?

In fairness, I'm sure the students would have done better had they been studying for an exam in the same way the prospective citizens were, but there's no excuse for only forty-three percent knowing the two major political parties in the U.S. The only way you don't hear "Republican" and "Democrat" on a daily basis is if you never read a periodical (even Seventeen is political at times!) and only watch Twilight.

At the risk of sounding like one of those guys who complains about "these crazy kids today," does anybody over 30 remember people our age being that ignorant, even in high school? (Notice I didn't say stupid, which implies lack of intellectual capacity. Ignorance can be cured through education and desire).

As a country, we have to do better explaining our government to our kids because, if we don't, misinformation will be easier to spread than it already is. We have to do better ourselves, as well.

For the record, I don't absolve myself. One of the questions asks how many members there are on the United States Supreme Court. Obviously, I know it's nine, but when I went to name them for the fun of it, I couldn't recall Justice Kennedy. I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I had an easier time remembering eight of nine original members of the Wu Tang Clan!



varangianguard said...

You know, if most school systems didn't treat Social Studies as a dumping ground for coaches (who might have had a couple of 100 level classes in History or Political Science in college), maybe the students could actually name the first President once in a while.

Anonymous said...

Social Studies is not measured on ISTEP....math and English so those subjects are heavily emphasized.

Chris Worden said...


I was about to blast your ridiculous proposition and then I actually, ya know, thought about every social studies teacher I could remember....3 out of 5. Coaches!

Scott said...

Is this poll by the same firm that FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver has been taking apart for statistically abnormal poll results?

I couldn't tell who conducted it; the link was broken.

Anonymous said...

I went to school in Missouri and we had to pass both a US and Missouri constitution test to graduate. That was about 10 years ago, so I am not sure if it is required anymore.