A Republic, If You Can Keep It: The Education Every Student Really Needs

Can we keep it? Here is David Fouse writing at National Review:

Local control would let our schools focus on teaching what is truly important.

“If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.”

These words come from an 1816 letter written by Thomas Jefferson — one of our most influential Founding Fathers, but not the father of the United States Constitution. That title belongs to James Madison — and less than a third of American college graduates know this.

But it’s not just Madison’s nickname that proves a problem for students. It’s the content and basic principles of the Constitution itself.

Sixty percent of college graduates don’t know any of the steps necessary to ratify a constitutional amendment. Fifty percent don’t know how long the terms of representatives and senators are. Forty percent didn’t know that Congress has the power to declare war.

Such dismal trends continue after graduation: Forty-three percent of Americans don’t know that the First Amendment gives them the right to freedom of speech, and a full third can’t identify a single right it gives them.

Our nation is experiencing a crisis in civic education. A 2016 American Council of Trustees and Alumni report showed that, even though nearly all twelfth-grade students took a course in civics, less than a quarter of them passed a basic examination at “proficient” or above. The crisis extends to higher education as well. In a survey of over 1,000 liberal-arts colleges, only 18 percent include a course in U.S. history or government as part of their graduation requirements. Even at George Washington University, you don’t have to take a course in U.S. history to graduate.

As shocking as the above-mentioned statistics are, they represent only the surface of the problem. What we are facing is not merely a crisis of knowledge, a need to memorize more facts, or a lack of understanding of how to properly engage. What we are really facing is a crisis of worldview.

Read more: National Review

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