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Friday, April 27, 2012

Many Americans Flunk Civic Literacy

As previous posts have indicated, many Americans struggle with basic knowledge of their government. One writer even offered a thought experiment of having birthright citizens pass the citizenship test that immigrants must take.  USA Today reports:
Immigrants applying for U.S. citizenship have to pass a 10-question civics test asking basic questions about American history and government, and about 93% succeed.

But only 65% of native-born Americans could get the required six out of 10 right answers when asked the same questions in a telephone poll.
That's the finding from the Center for the Study of the American Dream at Xavier University in Cincinnati, which commissioned the telephone survey of 1,023 native-born Americans last month. Michael Ford, the director of the center, said the results are particularly troubling in an election year featuring competing visions of a Constitution that many citizens may not understand.
"If we are civic illiterates, the chances of losing our freedom is greater than being invaded by aliens or a foreign country," he said.
Most Americans agree. In a separate survey, 77% said all Americans ought to be able to pass the citizenship test, and 60% said it should be a requirement for high school graduation.
See the survey and other materials here.