Among college seniors, less than half — 47.9% — correctly concluded that “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal” was from the Declaration of Independence. More than half did not know that the Bill of Rights prohibits the governmental establishment of an official religion, and “55.4 percent could not recognize Yorktown as the battle that brought the American Revolution to an end” (more than one quarter believing that it was the Civil War battle of Gettysburg that had ended the Revolution).
The Sacramento Bee’s Dan Weintraub notes students are weak on current events too.
Even with their country at war in Iraq, fewer than half of seniors, 45.2 percent, could identify the Baath party as the main source of Saddam Hussein’s political support. In fact, 12.2 percent believed that Saddam Hussein found his most reliable supporters in the Communist Party. Almost 5.7 percent chose Israel.
For some people, it’s always the Jews.
At Rhodes College, Colorado State University and Calvin College, students made the biggest gains from freshman to senior year; students did worse over time at Cornell, UC Berkeley and Johns Hopkins. However, the civic literacy group didn’t reveal the actual scores: Perhaps Cornell frosh outscore Rhodes frosh but don’t improve on their base. (Update: Linda Seebach sent me the link to the relevant table: Cornell frosh do outscore Rhodes frosh but Rhodes seniors outscore Cornell seniors.)
Here’s a pop civic literacy quiz. It’s very easy.