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Trustees | Civic Literacy

A Crisis in Civic Education

January 12, 2016 Download PDF Press Release

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.

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Launched in 1995, we are the only organization that works with alumni, donors, trustees, and education leaders across the United States to support liberal arts education, uphold high academic standards, safeguard the free exchange of ideas on campus, and ensure that the next generation receives an intellectually rich, high-quality college education at an affordable price.

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