“College graduates, whether it be current or graduated in the past, seem to have difficulty knowing basic things about our government and our history,” Mr. Brake said. “Does college share all the blame? Of course not — this is a systemic problem, from K through 12 and all the way up. But universities train our teachers and train our leaders, so they play a role.” (Chronicle of Higher Education)
The Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI) released its fourth annual national Civic Literacy report today called “The Shaping of the American Mind: The Diverging Influences of the College Degree & Civic Learning on American Beliefs.” In past studies, ISI has broken new ground by demonstrating empirically the failures of colleges and universities to effectively teach their graduates the fundamentals of American history, government, foreign affairs, and economics.
- While College Fails to Adequately Transmit Civic Knowledge, It Influences Opinion on Polarizing Social Issues
- Compared to College, Civic Knowledge Exerts a Broader and More Diverse Influence on the American Mind
- Civic Knowledge Increases a Person’s Regard for America’s Ideals and Free Institutions
Wanna Try, Here is the Test written by this group: http://www.americancivicliteracy.org/resources/quiz.aspx
FYI: I got 30/33.
The overall average score was only 49%, with college graduates also failing at 57%.
Here’s a question that less than 25% got right:
|7) What was the source of the following phrase: “Government of the people, by the people, for the people”?|
|A. the speech “I Have a Dream”|
|B. Declaration of Independence|
|C. U.S. Constitution|
|D. Gettysburg Address|
On an individual level, less than 60% (sometimes far less) of college graduates can identify on a multiple-choice test the three branches of government; seminal passages from the Declaration of Independence and Gettysburg Address; basic events from the Revolutionary, Civil, and Vietnam Wars; and the primary features of our free enterprise system. Several of these questions are actually required knowledge for new American citizens, signifying their relevance to what we as a nation demand for informed citizenship.
On an institutional level, ISI discovered that at many of our most elite schools, like Yale, Princeton, Duke, and my alma mater Georgetown, not only did those surveyed fail to get above a “D,” seniors at these top schools did worse than freshmen on the same test, a phenomenon dubbed “negative learning”!
Conventional wisdom, along with the hard-earned savings of American families, has long supported the notion that “with more college comes more knowledge.” ISI’s research has punctured the validity of such simple claims, drawing back the curtain of academia’s Land of Oz to reveal the smoke and mirrors of a veritable vacuum of civic ignorance.
Still, until this new survey by ISI, it was unclear scientifically whether this clear ideological bias on the part of faculty spilled-out into the classroom. Maybe faculty were liberal, but their professionalism prevented them from injecting their politics into their disciplinary subject-matter?
So what does ISI’s new study reveal? How does college “Shape the American Mind?”
As you might suspect, the Academy’s liberalism has not been value-neutral. On the contrary, when ISI held all other variables constant in a graduate’s background, like their age, race, income, gender, religion, etc., and just looked at the independent impact of college, we discovered a clear leftward lurch. For example, on the issues front, college’s impact was almost exclusively on some of the most polarizing of matters. Not only did college make a graduate more likely to support abortion-on-demand and same-sex marriage, but it made a person less likely to support prayer in schools, and remarkably, the notion that with hard work anyone can succeed in America.
In terms of political self-identification, college made a person much more likely to label him or herself as liberal and a Democrat, ranking only behind race (minority), gender (female), and marital status (single) in its leftward influence.
It is important to note that most college graduates are still skeptical of abortion-on-demand (only 21% approve) and same-sex marriage (only 39% approve), and they land squarely in the moderate/independent range. Clearly, there are other variables besides a college education that influence a person’s overall political worldview. But what ISI’s research proves is that when people do attend college, their political attitudes and opinions begin to shift in an identifiably leftward direction, much more so if they had not decided to go to college in the first place.
Interestingly, when a student scored higher on ISI’s civic literacy test it was found to have a very different impact on that person’s worldview. For instance, the more knowledge a student had about America, it did not seem to have any discernible impact one way or another on hot-button issues like abortion and same-sex marriage. Instead, higher civic knowledge led individuals away from contentious social issues and towards more sympathetic perceptions of America in general, its founding documents, and its free market economic institutions. Apparently, greater familiarity with America, instead of breeding contempt, actually fostered more respect for key elements of America’s free society.
In the end, America is a free country, and everyone is entitled to their particular political point-of-view, including college professors and college graduates. And if colleges were adequately teaching their students about America’s history and its institutions, and the same leftward political influences were discovered, then it could be logically concluded that as citizens learned more about their country, this academic enlightenment leads naturally to liberal political enlightenment. But this peculiar combination of collegiate civic ignorance on the one hand, and collegiate liberalism on the other, suggests a wholly different story, one featuring academic neglect at best and political indoctrination at worst.
Clearly, American colleges and universities need to do a better job teaching the story of America’s free and prosperous representative democracy, and ISI’s civic literacy research would suggest two areas where we should start. First we should return to a tried and true core curriculum. Second, we should support the restoration of intellectual pluralism—ideologically, methodologically, as well as demographically. Otherwise, it will be hard for the wizards of academia to escape the growing perception that all they are producing are a cadre of intellectual munchkins who share the wizards’ political views.(FOX)
It gets better:
Previous surveys have found that, in general, college does not bring students up to a high level of civics knowledge. According to the institute’s 2008 report, based on a survey of 2,500, people whose highest level of educational attainment was a bachelor’s degree correctly answered 57 percent of the questions, on average. That is three percentage points lower than a passing grade, according to the survey’s authors.
Even earlier surveys showed that years in college were only slightly correlated to civics expertise. For a 2006 report the institute surveyed 14,000 college freshmen and seniors on basic civics questions. It found seniors answered an average of 53 percent of the questions correctly, just 1.5 percent higher than freshmen.
So what happened to that “diversity” and “college of ideas”
Well, in true Liberal fashion, diversity means only them exclusively. We wouldn’t want to pollute the colleges with “right wing propaganda” now would we. 🙂
Add to that the 2007 Harvard study of the Liberal Media Bias.
The bias of The National Teacher’s Union.
And you get <<drum roll>> INDOCTRINATION. 🙂
Don’t teach them things you don’t want them to know.
Or as a CNN promo back in the mid 90’s said “All the News you need to know” 🙂
Link to interview on C-Span (41 mins): http://www.cspan.org/Watch/Media/2010/02/10/WJE/A/29442/Richard+Brake+Intercollegiate+Studies+Institute+Civic+Literacy+Program+Chairman.aspx
Or as the fire-bearthing Liberal blog Daily Koz put it, “So I guess testing theories, hypothesis and postulates with critical thinking and true analysis makes you a liberal. Having rules where we actually do critical thinking to prove or disprove an idea is liberal?”
Chew on that one for a moment.
No, I won’t pass you the barf bag.
Similarly, all else being equal, a college graduate will be less likely to:
- Believe anyone can succeed in America with hard work and perseverance;
Now that’s not Liberal bias at all. 😦
But if you teach people ignorance you get ignorant people.
And you get people who can manipulated.
The Orwellian Sheep to be sheared.
But don’t worry, ask any liberal, and they are the most diversity minded, open-minded, sensitive person out there unlike the narrow-minded, bigot right-wingers. 🙂
Now don’t you feel smarter.