T Nation

US Officials Flunk Civics Quiz

More on the sorry state of civics knowledge in this country:

WASHINGTON (AFP) ? US elected officials scored abysmally on a test measuring their civic knowledge, with an average grade of just 44 percent, the group that organized the exam said Thursday.

Ordinary citizens did not fare much better, scoring just 49 percent correct on the 33 exam questions compiled by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI).

“It is disturbing enough that the general public failed ISI’s civic literacy test, but when you consider the even more dismal scores of elected officials, you have to be concerned,” said Josiah Bunting, chairman of the National Civic Literacy Board at ISI.

“How can political leaders make informed decisions if they don’t understand the American experience?” he added.

The exam questions covered American history, the workings of the US government and economics.

Among the questions asked of some 2,500 people who were randomly selected to take the test, including “self-identified elected officials,” was one which asked respondents to “name two countries that were our enemies during World War II.”

Sixty-nine percent of respondents correctly identified Germany and Japan. Among the incorrect answers were Britain, China, Russia, Canada, Mexico and Spain.

Forty percent of respondents, meanwhile, incorrectly believed that the US president has the power to declare war, while 54 percent correctly answered that that power rests with Congress.

Asked about the electoral college, 20 percent of elected officials incorrectly said it was established to “supervise the first televised presidential debates.”

In fact, the system of choosing the US president via an indirect electoral college vote dates back some 220 years, to the US Constitution.

The question that received the fewest correct responses, just 16 percent, tested respondents’ basic understanding of economic principles, asking why “free markets typically secure more economic prosperity than government’s centralized planning?”

Activities that dull Americans’ civic knowledge include talking on the phone and watching movies or television – even news shows and documentaries, ISI said.

Meanwhile, civic knowledge is enhanced by discussing public affairs, taking part in civic activities and reading about current events and history, the group said.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20081120/od_afp/ushistoryeducationoffbeat

The quiz:

http://www.americancivicliteracy.org/resources/quiz.aspx

[quote]thunderbolt23 wrote:
The quiz:

http://www.americancivicliteracy.org/resources/quiz.aspx[/quote]

I’m about to take this quiz. I know I’ll score nowhere near what you’d get but I will report back completely and honestly, even if I get a zero.

"You answered 31 out of 33 correctly ? 93.94 %

Average score for this quiz during November: 77.6%
Average score: 77.6%"

That quiz was too easy…and officials flunked THAT? We’re fucking doomed!!!

Wow. That is pretty depressing. I guess I’m not surprised though.

On a personal note, I got a 93.94%, but considering I have a BA in history – my concentration was US history, no less – I’m pretty embarrassed I missed the Gettysburg Address question.

I only missed the susan b. anthony question. whoops. That was pretty basic stuff and multiple guess. I wish we had a list of the elected officals. We elect some real dipshits I guess.

I suck. I missed Qs 4, 13, and 15.

Still, this is a pretty easy quiz. But I am not suprised that US officials flunked it.

28/33 and I’m Canadian…

You answered 32 out of 33 correctly ? 96.97 %

Average score for this quiz during November: 77.6%
Average score: 77.6%

ouch. Got the last one wrong. Should’ve just gone with A <_< Probably would’ve if I’d bothered to check it.

…Officials FAILED this? Seriously?

[quote]Headhunter wrote:
That quiz was too easy…and officials flunked THAT? We’re fucking doomed!!!

[/quote]

For once, I agree completely.

I got 29, but I accidentally clicked the wrong one for # 10.

I just don’t buy the idea that elected officials did not know the answers to these questions. As little respect as I have for most politicians I don’t see us as having degenerated that far quite yet.

My highest level of formal schooling is 10th grade and I managed to learn enough about this country on my own to do pretty well on this Sesame Street test.

I got 75%…which I am disappointed in, thought I would do a little better.

You answered 25 out of 33 correctly ? 75.76 %

Average score for this quiz during November: 78.1%
Average score: 78.1%

Answers to Your Missed Questions:
Question #4 - B. Would slavery be allowed to expand to new territories?
Question #6 - D. establishing an official religion for the United States
Question #7 - D. Gettysburg Address
Question #8 - C. appoint additional Supreme Court justices who shared his views
Question #14 - B. stressed the sinfulness of all humanity
Question #27 - A. the price system utilizes more local knowledge of means and ends
Question #29 - B. a resident can benefit from it without directly paying for it
Question #31 - A. an increase in a nation?s productivity

the incorrect answer I gave:

4 - C
6 - B
7 - B
8 - D
14 - E (was leaning to B, but couldn’t remember if they were catholic or not, they did leave to escape persecution right?)

27 - I thought I hit A, guess not.
29 - C, kinda got mixed up with some benefite of the New Deal here.
31 - C, I had no idea, lol.

[quote]IvanDmitritch wrote:
Wow. That is pretty depressing. I guess I’m not surprised though.

On a personal note, I got a 93.94%, but considering I have a BA in history – my concentration was US history, no less – I’m pretty embarrassed I missed the Gettysburg Address question.[/quote]

If I hadn’t JUST read the Gettysburg address I probably would have missed it too.

I got a 32/33 for a 96.7% I missed #33 :frowning:

Great thread though. Everyone should take this quiz and spread it around.

[quote]thunderbolt23 wrote:

The question that received the fewest correct responses, just 16 percent, tested respondents’ basic understanding of economic principles, asking why “free markets typically secure more economic prosperity than government’s centralized planning?”

http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20081120/od_afp/ushistoryeducationoffbeat[/quote]

So it is very likely that the questions were compiled before the financial crisis hit huh? :wink:

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This post was flagged by the community and is temporarily hidden.

I got 30/33 90.91%

I wonder how high up these elected officials are. Probably city councilmen/women mostly. I would be surprised if such ignorance could be found in significant numbers at the Congressional level(even though the HOR has its fair share of dumbasses).

I got 73%. A few I haven’t learned about yet.

[quote]pushharder wrote:
91%. Missed three but should have only missed one - re-read the questions and realized I had not paid attention and buzzed through it too quickly.[/quote]

I missed three as well but for the same reasons. For example I knew what a progressive tax is, but I didn’t pick the right option. I didn’t think the questions on the quiz were worded very well.

The question about treaties asked about who “makes treaties.” While the President can negotiate treaties, it is up to the Senate to ratify. I answered this question correctly, but I think there are several possible answers. The true answer would be that the President and the senate make treaties, because both are required for a treaty to go on the books.

93.94. But on the upside, if a low score is a requirement for public office, then we have the right people in there already. Seriously, knowledge is good.