Relentless Pursuit of Wisdom and Liberty

The weblog companion of, dedicated to pondering, "If Patrick Henry could see us now..."

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Ahhh, gotta love the public schools

Great article about how horribly educated even soon-to-be college graduates are:
The vast majority of these soon-to-be college grads were not aware of even the most basic facts concerning their nation's history. Most, for example, could not identify the decade of any of America's wars. Any! Most couldn't identify the century. A mere 16 percent were able to date the beginning of the Revolutionary War to the 1770s, and only 12 percent chose the 1860s as the time of the Civil War. Two-thirds were unable to date the War of 1812. The mind boggles.

America's enemies in these wars? Fewer than one in three knew Great Britain was their country's foe in the American Revolution. Most weren't even able to work out who the United States fought in the 'Korean' or 'Vietnam' wars. When asked where the words 'Four score and seven years ago' came from, only 17 percent were able to identify the Gettysburg Address. And just 17 percent (presumably the same students) knew what those six words meant.

To test simple arithmetic skills, I asked what 70 percent of 240 was. This is middle school stuff. But most had no idea how to figure it out. When asked to make change for a $5 bill when a purchase came to $1.37, one-quarter of California's future bachelors of science weren't able to figure it out.

Perhaps the problem is they're too busy studying current events. Perhaps, but only 16 percent could name California's two senators, and only 29 percent knew the Senate was composed of 100 members, though one soon-to-be grad said, 'Fifty, two from each state.'


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