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Students & Parents | General Education

America’s Knowledge Crisis

A Survey of Civic Literacy
September 6, 2019 Download PDF Press Release

A new survey commissioned by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni sheds a bright light on our nation’s civic knowledge crisis. Colleges and universities significantly contribute to the problem by chipping away at their core requirements in essential areas of knowledge; students graduate unprepared for informed citizenship and the workforce. U.S. history is often first on the chopping block: Only 18% of colleges require students to take foundational courses in U.S. government or history. The consequences of this trend are alarming. According to the survey, 26% of respondents believe Brett Kavanaugh is the current chief justice of the Supreme Court; only 12% know that it was the 13th Amendment that freed the slaves in the United States; 30% think the Equal Rights Amendment guaranteed women the right to vote; 18% chose Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as the author of the New Deal, a suite of public programs enacted by President Franklin Roosevelt in the 1930s; and over 60% of respondents could not identify the term lengths for members of Congress.

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