Right Hooks

College Students Confuse Reagan for Clinton and Nixon

"There is a crisis in American civic education."

Jordan Candler · Feb. 17, 2016

The average American is not expected to be an expert on constitutional law or ridiculed for not knowing the names of all 535 senators and representatives of Congress. They should, however, be expected to know the basic tenets of the U.S. Constitution along with the names of their local officials and top governmental leaders. Sadly, more and more students are either not taught or don’t care to learn these things, which makes cringeworthy exposés like the one below increasingly common.

A group called PoliTech visited the campus of George Mason University with a simple quest: to see how many students could put a name to famous political faces. The students surveyed in the film had a broad range of majors — from Finance, to Nursing, to Accounting, to Anthropology and, yes, even Government and International Politics. But nearly all of them failed the test. Big time. Most surprisingly, not only could the young woman majoring in politics not name Ronald Reagan, she even failed to identify Joe Biden, as did all the other students save for one. And not a single one was able to name Ronald Reagan after being shown his picture. (For the record, he looks nothing like Bill Clinton and Richard Nixon.) However — and this is the least surprising part — every single student could instantly identify a pop culture icon known as Kim Kardashian.

The Daily Signal observes, “The American Council of Trustees and Alumni released a survey that found that nearly one in 10 recent college graduates think TV personality ‘Judge Judy’ is on the Supreme Court. ‘There is a crisis in American civic education,’ the group’s January report says. ‘Survey after survey shows that recent college graduates are alarmingly ignorant of America’s history and heritage.’ The same study found that ‘almost 40 percent of college graduates didn’t know that Congress has the power to declare war and nearly half couldn’t recognize the term lengths of members of Congress.’”

The bottom line: We shouldn’t be surprised that 32% of Americans don’t know who Justice Antonin Scalia is. But we can hope through exchanges like PoliTech’s that today’s indoctrinated snow flakes will feel prompted to actually start paying attention to what matters. Liberty, after all, will get you much farther in life than any $200,000 degree.

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