|Back to Sept. Ed Reporter|
|NUMBER 176||THE NEWSPAPER OF EDUCATION RIGHTS||SEPTEMBER 2000|
WASHINGTON, DC - Last December, the American Council of (College) Trustees and Alumni commissioned a student survey on American History. The survey asked 556 college seniors from 55 top-rated colleges and universities (including Harvard, Georgetown, and Notre Dame) 34 basic questions taken from high school curricula.
Four out of five students, or 81%, failed the test. Columnist David Broder used the shocking results as the basis for his July 4 column on the neglect of the teaching of American history in our institutions of higher learning. "Only one-third of the students could name the American general at the Battle of York-town," he noted. The National Catholic Register (7-16-00) reported that only 23% knew James Madison was the primary author of the U.S. Constitution, and just 22% recognized the phrase, "government of the people, by the people, and for the people" as originating with the Gettysburg Address. However, 99% were able to identify the vulgar TV cartoon characters, Beavis and Butthead, and 98% recognized Snoop Doggy Dog as a popular rap singer.
The dismal survey findings sent shockwaves through Congress. On June 30, the Senate passed a bipartisan resolution calling for tougher U.S. history requirements at all education levels.