Americans Get an “F” in Civics


There is no political divide in the results from the Intercollegiate Studies Institute’s latest civics literacy test. Everyone earned a failing grade.

While the organization has focused on a lack of civics knowledge among college students in past years, it expanded its reach this time around. Randomly selected Americans earned an average score of 49 on the 33-question test. Amazingly, elected officials came in even lower at 44%. Breakout totals included: Republicans (52%), Democrats (45%), liberals (49%) and conservatives (48%).

So what didn’t these people know. How about:

  • Fewer than half could name all three branches of government
  • Only 54% could identify a basic description of the free enterprise system
  • 40% of those with a bachelor’s degree did not know that business profit equals revenues minus expenses
  • 30% of elected officials did not know that "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" are the unalienable rights referred to in the Declaration of Independence

There’s plenty more to amaze — and dismay — you. The National Center for Policy Analysis has a summary or take the quiz yourself.

What’s the solution? I don’t know. But these results and the prospects for what they mean down the road sure are depressing.

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