‘ … rights and duties of citizens’

I received an interesting email a few weeks ago. We receive a ton of unsolicited emails, and I usually don’t pay much attention to them, but this one caught my eye.

According to this email from Verve Search, Alabama high schools now require that students pass a civics test. I asked Escambia County Schools Assistant Superintendent Beth Drew if this is indeed compulsory in county schools. Beginning with the 2019 graduation year, seniors will be required to take civics as part of the U.S. Government course and they will be required to pass an exam.

The email I received had a 10-question, interactive Civics Test sample accompanied by its survey results, and the following question:

“ … outside of the school system, how do the rest of Alabama’s citizens fare at the test? Would they be able to pass it right now?”

Hmmm. I wondered if I could pass it, so I took the test online. Out of 10 questions, I answered 7 correctly. And a couple of those were a guess.

According to the email, this is how Alabama scored on a civics test (this was a 2,000 person survey):

* Half of those from Alabama didn’t know how many members the House of Representatives has.

* One quarter of Alabamians didn’t know who wrote the Declaration of Independence.

* 56 percent of Alabamians couldn’t say who was President during WW1.

* 1 in 4 from Alabama didn’t know the President was also Commander in Chief of the Military.

* One third of people from Alabama didn’t know who the Chief Justice of the United States was.

Nearly a third of respondents failed the test: The pass rate for this test was 69 percent. The official national pass rate is 91 percent.

Out of all 50 states, Alabama scored 37th lowest – averaging 6.43 correct answers out of 10:

37. Alabama 6.43

38. Wyoming 6.38

39. Hawaii 6.36

40. Oklahoma 6.36

41. Maine 6.34

42. Connecticut 6.27

43. West Virginia 6.26

44. Alaska 6.25

45. Delaware 6.24

46. New Mexico 6.21

47. Idaho 6.19

48. North Dakota 6.13

49. Arkansas 6.02

50. Tennessee 5.72

According to this email, previous studies by the Department of Education have found only one-third of Americans can name the three branches of government, eight in 10 cannot name even two rights granted by the Declaration of Independence, and only one in five of eighth-graders scored proficient in civics and history.

Definition of civics: a social science dealing with the rights and duties of citizens; the study or science of the privileges and obligations of citizens.

From the email I received, from the survey results, it seems we are woefully lacking in our knowledge of American citizenship.

Interested in learning more? I found a website that could benefit us all – Hillsdale College offers free online courses on Politics & Government, History, Literature, Religion, Education, Economics. These courses are not for college credit, but for the sheer love of knowledge. These free courses are quite a service to citizens. Visit www.hillsdale.edu. And you might want to share that website with others – especially young people.