Friday, April 23, 2010

Political Knowledge

Via Kathleen Parker, I took the "2008 Survey" / Civics Quiz offered by the ISI. I could quibble with some of the questions, granting that whenever you boil the answers down to a short sentence you're going to at times force people to select the "least wrong" answer as opposed to the right one. But really, it's an easy quiz. Even for somebody who, as a student, didn't set foot in a U.S. K-12 classroom. (But I overstate my case - I am interested in politics, studied political science in college, and went to law school, none of which are necessary to success on the quiz, but all of which are no doubt correlated with doing well. I will blame my U.K/Canadian K-12 education for my missing a couple of answers on this quiz, but I'm similarly amazed by the average score of 44%. CWD, our resident military historian, would have aced this test by the time he was ten.)

I don't agree with what appears to be the political agenda of the ISI, which seems to want to inject their favored form of Christian conservatism into our education system. But I do believe that by the time a student graduates from high school they should have a basic sense of how the U.S. political system works. And I'm appalled (appalled, I tell you)... well, not really appalled, but I wanted to get your attention... that colleges are dropping an introductory level political science class on the U.S. system of government from their basic studies requirements. (Parker is more concerned about history courses, but unless colleges were requiring survey courses on American history I'm not sure that a "you must take a history class" requirement would have much of an impact.)

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