Monday 21 September 2009

Political knowledge isn't improving

Some teaser findings from the latest Goldwater Institute Survey (HT: NotPC)
A majority of Arizona public high school students got only one of these questions correct, with 58% correctly identifying the Atlantic Ocean as being off the east coast of the United States, with 42% unable to do so. It was all downhill from there. 29.5% of students identified the Constitution as the supreme law of the land, 25% of students identified the Bill or Rights as the first 10 amendments to the Constitution (12% said they were called “The Constitution” and 16% “The Declaration of Independence.”)
Twenty three percent of Arizona public high schoolers identified the House and Senate as the chambers of Congress. Nine point four percent that the Supreme Court has nine justices. Only 25% of students correctly identified Thomas Jefferson as the author of the Declaration of Independence. An almost majority of 49.6 percent identified the two major political parties, only 14.5% answered that Senators are elected for six year terms. Finally, only 26.5% of students correctly identified George Washington was the first President. Other guesses included John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, George Bush and Barack Obama.

Only 26% could identify the President as being in charge of the Executive Branch. All in all, only 3.5% of public school students passed the test by getting six or more items correct. That’s 40 students out of a sample of 1,134 district students.

There were no major differences in performance based on grade (Seniors did approximately as poorly as Freshmen) nor by ethnicity. Profound ignorance is quite equally distributed in large measure across students in the public school system.
Of course, this isn't unique to America.

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