Could You (or Colorado High Schoolers) Outshine Arizona's Civic Illiteracy?

This news from the Goldwater Institute’s Matt Ladner about the basic civic illiteracy of Arizona high school students is depressing, especially a week before our nation’s birthday. A simple 10-question quiz failed by the overwhelming majority of students.

Apparently, charter school kids did better than other public school kids, and private schoolers did even better. No group did well, though. I have to wonder: What about homeschoolers? (Maybe there weren’t enough of them to tally the results.)

The big people in my life insist that basic civic literacy is absolutely crucial for the Republic to survive in the future. You know, my future? Let’s pay attention, people.

Anyway, here are the 10 questions, taken directly from the U.S. Citizenship exam:

1. What is the supreme law of the land?

2. What do we call the first 10 amendments to the Constitution?

3. What are the two parts of the U.S. Congress?

4. How many Justices are on the Supreme Court?

5. Who wrote the Declaration of Independence?

6. What ocean is on the East Coast of the United States?

7. What are the two major political parties in the United States?

8. We elect a U.S. Senator for how many years?

9 . Who was the first President of the United States?

10. Who is in charge of the Executive Branch?

(If you need to, click the link at the beginning of the post to find answers.) We have to go on the honor system here, but how did you do? Hopefully, you at least got 7 or 8.

Maybe it’s time we did the same kind of survey here in Colorado. Currently, the state is working on redrafting academic standards for history, civics, geography, and economics (under the heading of “Social Studies”).

The question is: How much do standards matter if they aren’t being followed? Arizona has some of the better academic standards for “Social Studies”. As Ladner points out, all the topics in these 10 questions should have been covered by 8th grade according to Arizona standards.

Having strong academic standards is important, but not nearly sufficient. How well would Colorado high schoolers do on this 10-question survey? Years from now, would the results change just because of the new standards? It’s food for thought, anyway.