“If we are to guard against ignorance and remain free, it is the
responsibility of every American to be informed.” ~
~ Thomas Jefferson, a Founding Father and the 3rd president of the United States

Of Note:  On the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), aka the nation’s report card, civics assessment, just 22% of 8th graders scored at or above the proficient level. On the NAEP history assessment, just 13% of 8th graders scored at or above the proficient level.

Of Note:  As for us adults, according to the Annenberg Public Policy Center…

  • 47% could name all three branches of the federal government.
  • 24% knew that the First Amendment guarantees freedom of religion.
  • 51% incorrectly said that Facebook is required to let all Americans express themselves freely under the First Amendment.
  • 46% knew the Supreme Court has final say if a president’s act is constitutional or not.
  • 41% knew the Constitution begins with We The People.

Of Note: As for the First Amendment and those same respondents…

  • 63% knew it guarantees freedom of speech.
  • 24% knew it guarantees freedom of religion.
  • 20% knew it guarantees freedom of the press.
  • 16% knew it guarantees the right of assembly.
  • 6% knew it guarantees the right to petition the government.

Of Note:  About the Second Amendment, while just 9% of those same respondents correctly named the right to bear arms, 82% knew the Supreme Court holds that a citizen has a constitutional right to own a handgun.

With such numbers in mind, I give you Sandra Day O’Connor, retired Supreme Court Justice and founder of iCivics:

*** “We face difficult challenges at home and abroad. Meanwhile, divisive rhetoric and a culture of sound bites threaten to drown out rational dialogue and debate. We cannot afford to continue to neglect the preparation of future generations for active and informed citizenship.”

*** “The secret to America’s success is the strength of our civil society. An informed citizenry lays the foundation for not just democracy but also for an innovative, dynamic economy.”

*** “Young people spend an average of 40 hours a week in front of a screen. One or two hours a week would do to teach them civics.”

(iCivics offers more than 15 education games and hundreds of resources for civics education. its most recent is a digital game offering a lesson on the compromises that went into the drafting of the Constitution in 1787.)

~ With thanks, Carol