Are you up on your civics? Take the quiz!

I’m going to be blunt. There are a lot of ignorant Americans walking the streets of this great country, and I’m not sure what to do about it. We already know dollars spent per student, teacher to student ratios nor the number of computers in the classroom have much effect on academic performance, so today let’s think about what will work; add your suggestions in the comments section.

What’s got me in this grouchy mood? Well, todays column from Walter Williams brings to light results from a national survey on civics awareness. You know, civics, the study of citizenship and government. The results, well, they suck.

Are we getting a solid return on our investment from the education system in this country? After reading Prof. Williams’ recent column, Ignorance Reigns Supreme, I’m pretty certain we are not.

Now I do not pretend to be a genius or even very good at grammar or spelling, but if someone asks me who the commander and chief of the armed forces is, I can answer the question.

Prof. Williams discusses the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI) national survey titled “Our Fading Heritage: Americans Fail a Basic Test on Their History and Institutions.”

Only 21 percent of survey respondents knew that the phrase “government of the people, by the people, for the people.” comes from President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. Almost 40 percent incorrectly believe the Constitution gives the president the power to declare war. Only 27 percent know the Bill of Rights expressly prohibits establishing an official religion for the United States. Remarkably, close to 25 percent of Americans believe that Congress shares its foreign policy powers with the United Nations.

Among the total of 33 questions asked, others included: “Who is the commander in chief of the U S. military?” “Name two countries that were our enemies during World War II.” “Under our Constitution, some powers belong to the federal government. What is one power of the federal government?” Of the 2,508 nationwide samples of Americans taking ISI’s civic literacy test, 71 percent failed; the average score on the test was 49 percent.

So, without further unbearable scores, here is the quiz that you can take online right now. Don’t worry, it’s multiple choice, but I guaranty that you will find a couple of the questions harder than you expect.

After you’ve taken the 33 question quiz, check out how elected officials did as compared to other citizens and review the full report online. You’ll note that similar literacy reports are available for 2006 and 2007.

By the way, I guessed at a few and got 30 out of 33 correct (91%).

7 replies
  1. David in EH
    David in EH says:

    "Remarkably, close to 25 percent of Americans believe that Congress shares its foreign policy powers with the United Nations."

    Sadly, a similar percentage of Congress believes the same thing…

  2. Bill
    Bill says:

    When I took this quiz on another site, I was disappointed to only score a 97%. It's astounding that elected officials were far below that. Is it any wonder that our public planners cannot even consider that there might be unintended consequences of their actions?

    "What we learn from history is that we do not learn from history." – Benjamin Disraeli

  3. Sal C
    Sal C says:

    I took the test and here is how I did:
    You answered 31 out of 33 correctly — 93.94 %

    Answers to Your Missed Questions:
    Question #14 – B. stressed the sinfulness of all humanity
    Question #26 – C. revenue minus expenses

    God Bless
    Sal C

  4. Bob in Coventry, CT
    Bob in Coventry, CT says:

    I will try that quiz myself.

    I was just thinking of a US History question that I would ask current students in High School and College:
    In the history of the USA, name the two presidents that were impeached:
    A. Johnson (Andrew, that is)
    B. Clinton (Bill)
    C. Nixon
    D. All of the above

    Answer: Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton were impeached but not convicted (kids today probably don't know the difference).
    Richard Nixon, contrary to popular belief among US History teachers, was not impeached; he resigned.

  5. Troy
    Troy says:

    26 right: 78.89%
    Question #4 – B. Would slavery be allowed to expand to new territories?
    Question #6 – D. establishing an official religion for the United States
    Question #8 – C. appoint additional Supreme Court justices who shared his views
    Question #19 – B. teaching evolution in the schools
    Question #29 – B. a resident can benefit from it without directly paying for it
    Question #30 – C. decreasing taxes and increasing spending
    Question #33 – D. tax per person equals government spending per person

    I'm disappointed in myself, but I'M not in charge of running the country. The ones that are should be more disappointed.

  6. Dimsdale
    Dimsdale says:

    I was like Sal: 31/33.

    Don't fret Troy: you are still way ahead of the "geniuses" we elect to Congress.

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