Civics: Americans Can Be Outdone by Immigrants
Civics and the U. S. Citizen
The Founding Fathers of the United States of America most deliberately and brilliantly made Individual Rights the shining star of the Constitution. It was the absolute sticking point for every Founding Father and a critical element of the U.S. Constitution.
It is the Individual Rights recognized as indestructible by man or government that makes the United States a Constitutional Republic and specifically guards against any other form of government from monarchy to simple democracy or majority rule. The Constitution boldly declares that these Individual Rights are iron clad. They cannot be chipped, changed, challenged, chopped or cheated away from citizens.
The Big Difference
The design of the Constitution is why American Conservatives, in particular, cherish the Constitution and consider it the base of their ideology. The Constitution is the one document that sets the United States apart from all other nations, making her the beacon of freedom for the world.
You’ve all heard some seemingly thoughtful person dismiss the Constitution as irrelevant, but then, when criticized for the Constitutional dismissal, quickly announce that there is a Right to Free Speech. Sigh. We can roll our eyes over the fact that this seemingly thoughtful person doesn’t recognize the source of that Right, but we need to ask WHY doesn’t this seemingly thoughtful person connect the dots between the Constitution…her Rights…Individual Rights…and Freedom?
“…half of U. S. States do not require high school students to even take Civics and only three states require civics in middle school.”
-Retired U. S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor
U. S. Civics and History Standards Score a D or F in Most States
The American Bar Association (ABA) published a report on a study of Civics and American History education in the U. S. The study ranked history standards in 49 states and D. C. (Rhode Island only has a civics/history curriculum guide, not mandatory history standards.) with a grading scale of A to F in several categories. Only South Carolina got straight A’s. Nine states earned A- or B. The majority of the states, 28 states in total, scored a D or F in its America history curriculum standards.
“The majority of the states, 28 states in total, scored a D or F in its America history curriculum standards.”
-American Bar Association, study by Thomas B. Fordham Institute
The Center for Information and Research on Civil Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) of Tufts University reported that most states do not emphasize civic education. They further reported that high school graduation testing requirements for Civics are only required in nine states and only 21 states require social studies testing to graduate from high school. Their report also stated that just 39 states require just one high school course in American Government or Civics, but only eight states require high school graduation testing for these subjects.
“…just 39 states require just one high school course in American Government or Civics, but only eight states require high school graduation testing for these subjects.”
-CIRCLE of Tufts University
Standardized Testing Does Not Include Civics
Interestingly, CIRCLE draws a conclusion for this downward trend in the serious study and required testing for these subjects. In their report, CIRCLE attributes the shift away from civic education over the past decade as being partially due to federal policies, like “No Child Left Behind” and “Race to the Top”. According to CIRCLE, research suggests that states shift resources away from social studies and civics toward subjects tested on statewide required testing as directed by federal policy.
“…research suggests that states shift resources away from social studies and civics toward subjects tested on statewide required testing as directed by federal policy.”
-CIRCLE of Tufts University
Over HALF of American Citizens Do Not Know the Basics of The U. S. Constitution
A nationwide study by The Hearst Report indicated more than 50 percent of Americans did not know basic component of the Constitution. For example, their studies noted 60 percent of Americans thought the President alone could suspend the Constitution in a national emergency and nearly half of Americans revealed ignorance of both the American government and the ideas of Karl Marx.
A Xavier University study showed that, while 97.5 percent of those applying for U. S. citizenship could pass the basic civics test required for citizenship, only two out of three Americans could do the same. And, passing the test only requires answering six out of ten simple questions correctly. With basic knowledge of civics, The United States of America demands less of its natural born citizens than it does of naturalized citizens…a national embarrassment.
With basic knowledge of civics, The United States of America demands less of its natural born citizens than it does of naturalized citizens…a national embarrassment.
No National Requirement for Civics
When citizens are no longer taught how our government works and our own federal education programs have no requirements for this knowledge, the understanding of the unique freedom for which the United States is known is lost on those most benefitting from that freedom.
When citizens are no longer required to know why Individual Rights are protected and why the United States’ unique freedoms are due to its founding as a Constitutional Republic and not a simple democracy, citizens are not equipped to vote or act with the best interest of their freedom in mind.
Is it any wonder that the seemingly thoughtful person, mentioned previously,
could so casually ditch the U. S. Constitution like last week’s meatloaf?
What Citizens Do Not Know CAN Hurt Them
When citizens no longer know that Individual Rights are protected only by the willingness of U. S. citizens to defend the Constitution from a government of men/women often eager to gain power, citizens could easily become complacent or even apathetic.
When citizens don’t have the knowledge necessary to defend their own freedom, they become easy prey for those seeking to have power over them.
The aforementioned “seemingly thoughtful person” is not alone in the United States.
Civics, as an academic subject has been disappearing from the U. S. curriculum steadily since the 1960’s. Generations of U. S. citizens have never learned how our government works or even what our Constitution says.
How can our citizenry live up to their moral and patriotic duty
to hold our elected officials accountable
if they do not know how our government works?
This is why The Founding Project was born.
Our fellow citizens are overworked, overtired and overwhelmed with information on a daily basis. Our passionate team is dedicated to seeking credible, reliable information and delivering it to our fellow Americans in manageable and approachable doses to fit our busy lives.
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Thank you for joining us, fellow citizens.
Maggie Dine, President of The Founding Project