Take the Intercollegiate Studies Institute civics 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%).

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