A Crisis in Civic Education
January 2016 by ACTA
The Founders admonished that informed, engaged citizens would be the indispensable guardian of our liberty. ACTA’s surveys, however, administered over the past two decades, reveal that our schools—and especially our colleges and universities—have done a poor job of ensuring the civic literacy on which our nation depends. Too many institutions fail to require courses that ensure civic knowledge and often allow community service projects, well-intentioned as they are, to substitute for deep learning about our nation’s institutions of government and their history. At present, a majority of the four-year college graduates answering a multiple-choice survey were unable to identify the method for amending the Constitution or the process for presidential impeachment. Nearly half failed to identify the correct term lengths for the houses of Congress. Ten percent thought that Judith Sheindlin—"Judge Judy"—is on the Supreme Court. A Crisis in Civic Education offers recommendations to colleges, alumni, foundations, and lawmakers to turn from civic illiteracy to vibrant, empowered participation in the nation’s civic process.
There is a crisis in American civic education. Survey after survey shows that recent college graduates are alarmingly ignorant of America's history and heritage. They cannot identify the term lengths of members of Congress, the substance of the First Amendment, the origin of the separation of powers. They do now know the Father of the Constitution, and nearly 10% say that Judith Sheindlin—"Judge Judy"—is on the Supreme Court. Continue Reading >>