Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Civic Test, anyone?

I will not be continuing my Creationism posts today. I do plan to return to them soon.

Then, I plan to answer the response about Iraq. I am sorry for the change in plans. Plans, in reality, often are altered for one reason or another. “The best laid plans … often go astray.” Thank you for your understanding and patience.

How many unborn toddlers were murdered today because of the humanistic, paganish, barbaric decisions of the United States Supreme Court?

Stop the
Murder of

“Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.” James 4: 17 (NIV)

The following article was written by columnist Cal Thomas and published in the Peoria Journal Star on September 19, 2007, page A4.

“Elite students flunking civics

‘If you can read this, thank a teacher,’ says the bumper sticker. But literacy is more than the ability to read a bumper sticker. It includes the accumulation of basic knowledge combined with a way of thinking that allows an individual to lead a life that is personally productive and contributes to America’s health and welfare.

For the second year in a row, America’s elite universities have failed to rise above a D-plus on tests of basic knowledge about civics and U.S. history, says a study commissioned by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute’s (ISI) [The article has “Institute’s.” Unless additional material was left out, it should read “Institute” I think—my addition]

In 2005, ISI contracted with the University of Connecticut to administer tests to 14,000 students at 50 top schools, including Yale, Harvard, Cornell, the University of Virginia, Brown and Duke. (Personally, I would give more credence to the results if I knew the methodology used—my addition.) The survey found students ‘were no better off than when they arrived in terms of acquiring knowledge necessary for informed engagement in a democratic republic and global economy.’

America’s most prestigious colleges had the worst scores. Many of the schools that typically rank the highest in popularity scored among the lowest in advancing civic knowledge. Generally, the study found, the higher the ranking by U.S. News and World Report, the lower the rank in civic learning. Since an education at top colleges can cost $40,000 a year, it would appear that those paying the bill are being cheated.

ISI’s report—‘The Coming Crisis in Citizenship: Higher Education’s Failure to Teach America’s History and Institutions’—presents four key findings:

■ The average college senior knows very little about American history, government, international relations and market economy. (It is easy to accept that this observation is true just by a daily reading of the newspaper. The average reporter and editorial writer know very little about American history, government, international relations and market economy—my addition.) Their average score on the civic literacy test was 53.2 percent. (In my classroom, that was a failing grade not a D-plus—my addition.)

■ Prestige doesn’t pay off. ‘An Ivy League education contributes nothing to a student’s civic learning. … There is no relationship between the cost of attending college and the mastery of America’s history, politics, and economy.’

■ Students don’t learn what colleges don’t teach. ‘Schools where students took or were required to take more courses related to America’s history and institutions,’ says ISI, ‘outperformed those schools where fewer courses were completed.’ (That makes sense. Some students actually learned the material presented!—my addition)

■ Greater civic learning goes hand-in-hand with more active citizenship. ‘Students who demonstrated greater learning of America’s history and its institutions were more engaged in citizenship activities such as voting, volunteer community service and political campaigns.’ The study found that ‘86 percent of the students at the four highest-ranked colleges had exercised their right to vote at least once.’ (How can colleges be expected to teach such courses when they are too busy making sure that teachers who believe in Intelligent Design are denied tenure? Okay there probably isn’t a correlation but I couldn’t resist—my addition.)

Hear are two of the test questions. Even partially informed people who believe American history is a better teacher than fascination and fixation on the latest news about Britney Spears and O.J. Simpson ought to be able to answer them correctly.

1. Which battle brought the American Revolution to an end:

(a) Saratoga
(b) Gettysburg
(c) the Alamo
(d) Yorktown
(e) New Orleans

(Also, which of the two above answers were the only two battles listed that actually occurred during the Revolutionary War—my addition.)

2. Which … is the best measure of production or output of an economy:

(a) Gross Domestic Product
(b) Consumer Price Index
(c) Unemployment rate
(d) Prime rate
(e) exchange rate

(My opinion: If a senior in college can’t answer the above two questions, he shouldn’t be in college. Do you think we should require this test or a similar test to be passed by anyone who is running for an elected public office?)

Everyone should take the test. (The entire 60 multiple choice questions can be found on ISI’s Web site, [I haven’t seen the test. For my college prep American government and econ classes, my tests consisted of four essay questions which basically asked the student to discuss in detail everything that was taught for that unit. I thought multiply choice questions were too easy for a college prep class—my addition.]

In 1777, John Adams wrote to his son about the importance of education. He said it was necessary to teach the next generation about America’s founding principles in order to preserve the freedom and independence so many of his fellow countrymen sacrificed to achieve. (Do you think this basic lack of knowledge and understanding is why the American people have allowed the Supreme Court to grab power and to slowly over time establish a Courtocracy. Democracy is too much work and it is easier and less messy to allow nine unelected lawyers to decide policy for the nation?—my addition)

Only when we know and embrace those principles can we pass on to a new generation that which we inherited from the past. The ISI study reveals severe cracks in that foundation; cracks that need attention and repair.”

Do you know the answers to the two questions asked? The newspaper did not print the answers. For question 1 the answer is “Yorktown” which was the last major battle of the Revolutionary War although not the last battle. Some armies didn’t know the war had basically ended and were still fighting. The other battle that occurred during the Revolutionary War was the Battle of Saratoga. The answer for question two is “Gross Domestic Product” which should have been easy since it has the question in the answer—production = product.


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