Civics, The Lost Knowledge

In the last few decades the American people have lost the knowledge of civics….and our elections and government illustrates what happens when this knowledge is lost.

I say this because of this type of report….

A recent survey found America may need to go back to civics class.

Annenberg Public Policy Center’s Civics Knowledge Survey found only 2 in 5 American adults – or 39 percent – could correctly name the three branches of government: executive, legislative and judicial. That figure was the highest in five years, up from 32 percent last year.

One in five adults couldn’t name any branch, the study showed.

“A quarter of U.S. adults can name only one of the three branches of government and more than a fifth can’t name any. The resilience of our system of government is best protected by an informed citizenry. And civics education and attention to news increase that likelihood.”

53% correctly said it takes a two-thirds majority of the House and Senate to override a presidential veto.

83% correctly said it was accurate to say that the U.S. Supreme Court has held that a citizen has a constitutional right to own a handgun.

63% correctly said it was inaccurate to say that the Constitution allows a judge to insist that a defendant testify at their own trial.

55% correctly said that Democrats control the House of Representatives and 61% correctly said that Republicans control the Senate.


Since schools seems to avoid teaching our students the knowledge of civics…..apparently that chore is delegated to us bloggers…..

Let us start with George Washington…..and carry on from there….

In his first inaugural address, George Washington put the fate of this country’s democracy in the care of its people. “The preservation of the sacred fire of liberty, and the destiny of the Republican model of Government,” Washington explained, “are justly considered as deeply, perhaps as finally staked, on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people.” 

Yet 233 years later, civic knowledge among Americans is at an appallingly low level. What’s more, a recent Quinnipiac Report finds 67 percent of Americans think our democracy is in danger of collapse. 

None of this is surprising to those of us who have devoted our lives to improving civic education in this country. Americans are finally starting to pay attention to the alarms raised. Thankfully, there are collective calls for improving civic education – not only during school years but as a lifelong endeavor for every person in our self-governing society.

The challenge for those of us in civic education is threefold: (1) there is less classroom time for civics in primary and secondary school; (2) the marketplace of ideas is crowded with misinformation coming from every direction; and (3) there are few resources designed to engage people of all ages.

The study of civics is best when we start with the very document that made this country great, the Constitution…..

When we think of the United States Constitution, we probably consider the structure it gives to our national government. We may think of its presence at the center of political controversies past and present. Or we may think of ways in which the document has been neglected.

But as we mark the 235th anniversary of the Constitution’s signing on Sept. 17, 1787, it’s worth noting the positive ways in which our daily lives as individuals – and our shared lives as citizens – are profoundly shaped by that document.

First, the Constitution is a common reference point for American civic life. The Preamble tells us the Constitution’s purpose – one that “We the People” share together. It speaks of the need to maintain our “more perfect Union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.” This purpose is as relevant today as it was in 1787. The founding generation certainly bore a heavy responsibility in adhering to these purposes, but each generation must do its part in the ongoing work of self-government. And each individual citizen is a shareholder in the enterprise of democracy.

We need a more thorough program for teaching civics at every level of our educational system.

Be Smart!

Learn Stuff!

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”


31 thoughts on “Civics, The Lost Knowledge

  1. I agree that we need to have civics taught in the schools again but the question becomes “Whose version of civics will we authorize?” There are now people who would re-write the constitution, there are people who specialize in revising history, I think it would be nearly impossible to formulate universally accepted texts for a civics course in divided America. Can’t you hear the arguments now? “That might be YOUR Civics, but it isn’t MY Civics!”

      1. The only thing that flies in maga land (magat land) is horse shit .. and it flies abundantly and almost exclusively in that venue.

      2. Who IS this guy anyway? He sounds to me like he thinks he is omniscient and that is something that I, for one, sincerely doubt.

  2. I have absoluletely no doubt that it would be much the same here in the UK. If it is not on Facebook, nobody under the age of 30 is remotely interested.
    Best wishes, Pete.

  3. Reblogged this on Citizen Tom and commented:
    Here is an interesting blog post that provides some informative links. I think the following observations need to be added, however.

    1. The Declaration of Independence is our nation’s founding document. This document explains why it necessary for to have a government. Unless we read The Declaration of Independence and documents like The Federalist Papers, we cannot understand the Constitution as well as we need to understand it. We won’t understand the purpose the Constitution is supposed to serve. The Preamble does not come close to providing an adequate explanation. The Preamble was not supposed to do that.

    2. We need to examine why we are failing to provide our children an adequate civics education. The answer, I think, is that we expected government-run schools to educate our children, and education is a task for which the government is ill suited. What is the problem? Whenever we delegate the task of education to the government, we give those with an axe to grind the opportunity to foist their beliefs upon other people using other people’s money. Hence, we should only allow the government to educate people when government is the only practical alternative. For example, when we need trained soldiers, we need to let our military services do their job and keep extraneous ideologies, CRT and the transgender nonsense out of it.

    3. Who should be providing instruction in civics? That is something for free enterprise to resolve. That is, the real issue is who decides who teaches our children. Currently, politicians largely decide who teach our children in K – 12, and they also provide much of the funding for our colleges and universities. Unfortunately, we have allowed our political leaders to foul up our education system with political strife. We are not supposed to use our government to force our beliefs upon each other, but that is what happens when we put our government in charge of our education system. Therefore, we need to put parents need to be put back in charge. WE NEED SCHOOL CHOICE!

    4. Are you a parent? If you want your children to grow up to be good citizens, then you need to take charge of both their religious education and their civics education. Does that sound like an odd juxtaposition? What does religious education have to do with civics? Well, look at the Bible. The Bible is the story of how Jesus redeemed us, but much of that involves the story of how Israel governed itself. Even the New Testament involves government. Jesus, for example, was executed by soldiers, not a mob. Jesus is our King. If we wish to be good citizens in His Kingdom, then we must learn how we are supposed to relate to each other and to Him.

    Jesus is God. The Great Commandment calls upon us to love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength. God is our King.

    Our neighbors are not God, but God commands us to love our neighbors as we love our self. Like our self, our neighbors belong to God, and He is their master. Therefore, we need a government to protect each other from each other, and that is what our Constitution was designed to do.

    1. More horse manure, I see … In reference to: “The answer, I think, is that we expected government-run schools to educate our children,” I would like to point out that back in the 1930s, 40s and 50s, Civics was a required subject in most American schools. I know because I was there and I took it …and it was boring to me because my raging hormones were elsewhere engaged …

      1. Education does not have to be boring, but Socialism tends to boredom. Checking the boxes is what bureaucrats do, and that makes any subject uninteresting.

        The Federal Government first started building freeways during the Eisenhower administration, that worked well. Unfortunately, the politicians eventually figured out that they no longer had to collect tolls to pay off the bonds they sold to pay for the roads. So, instead of making the people who drove on the roads happy, they started making their campaign donors happy. We have a similar problem in the public schools.

      2. Socialism leads to a more equitable sharing of the wealth and the benefits that wealth brings and there is nothing boring about that, unless you happen to be a rich Republican who would rather have it all and share nothing with anybody … which accounts for most of them …and I agree with you about the politicians and the roads but, for some strange reason I cannot ever remember having to pay a toll to drive on an Interstate … and we drag raced on I-75 before the first concrete was ever laid … it was nothing but a big bunch of scrapes in the bare earth in those days …I also agree with the propensity for politicians of every stripe being more interested in pleasing their donors more than serving the interests of the People …And as to the schools, we need to fix the public school system rather than depending on scrubby “Charter” schools who do nothing but collect money and peddle right wing religion and Republican politics exclusively to their captive audiences in classrooms.

      3. John

        Socialism has been tried repeatedly. It does not work. Every time the government acquires the power to redistribute other people’s wealth it eventually abuses it. Moreover, people don’t have much incentive to work if they cannot keep the fruits of their labor.

        What you are advocating is using the government to tell other people how to spend their money and educate their children. Instead of defending your right to do such a foolish thing, you are just attacking other people’s choices. What about your own choices?

      4. State capitalism is an oxymoron. Crony capitalism makes a bit more sense.

        True socialism actually has been tried, and it works well for ants, bees, some kinds of wasps,…. Socialism does not work for people.

        How would we make true Socialism work for people? Well, the solution seems to be to indoctrinate the “workers” to behave like ants, bees, some kinds of wasps,…… Would that be true Socialism? Would it work? Well, the self-selected vanguard of the proletariat seem to like it, and it is what they keep trying to do.

      5. It si not an oxymoron….wasps ants and bees? Really you expect a answer to that ignorance? All this is just silly…..on a national level it has never been attempted chuq

      6. Chuq — give the poor guy a break — I doubt sincerely that he even knows what he is talking about … like most right-wingers I think he may just love to hear the sound of his own voice because I believe that he is truly only preaching to the choir.

      7. It has not been attempted in the USA, but we have started down that road, and sensible people keep fighting Socialism.

        However, Socialism has been tried repeatedly. Even the Pilgrims tried Socialism at Plymouth Rock. Fortunately for us, after half of them starved, they gave up on the idea. Others, Communists and the Nazis, have demonstrated what happens when Socialism is allowed to progress on a much larger scale. Socialism produced tyrants such as Hitler, Stalin, and Mao Zedong, tens of millions of dead, and much sorrow.

        The problem is what happens when we give our leaders the power required to redistribute our wealth. They abuse the power.

      8. Actually bees and ants work for a tyrant…the queen….sorry but that is not socialism…..this is getting tiresome. Have a nice evening…..chuq

      9. Actually, whether it is an ant colony, a beehive, or wasp nest, the queen doesn’t exercise tyrannical power, but that misunderstanding is typical. Ants, bees, and wasps respond to their instincts, not tyranny.

        As a practical matter, an ant colony, a beehive, and a wasp nest each represent a single body woven together by instincts, chemical scents that they release to message each other, and probably other mechanisms we still don’t know about. In this view, drones and queens serve as reproductive organs.

        Is there Socialism in this country? As most people understand the word, of course, there is.

        Has “true Socialism” ever been implemented? No. Because “true Socialism” is not designed to work with human beings as they exist, “True Socialism” cannot work, not even in theory. We don’t have the capacity to make it work. So, your protestations are both ironic and absurd.

        Communism, on the other hand, does work up to a point. Why? Because Socialism is a political ideology designed for angels, not humans, human beings must be forced to behave in accordance with the ideals of Socialism. Hence, Marx created the vanguard of the proletariat, a tyrant class, to force the proletariat to docilely accept a Socialist economic system and starve.

      10. Most people would not know a socialist if he bit them in the butt….. you are right it cannot work because the people care not for the country but rather selfish BS that does nothing to improve the nation….the hives sole purpose is to keep the queen ‘happy’…..the only absurdity is your debate on something you do not understand….chuq

      11. Through the ages, Americans have favored their socialist-leaning tendencies far more than they have their right leaning tendencies.

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