Not long ago — and certainly not long enough — a survey taken around a Fourth of July revealed that 1 out of 4 Americans can’t identify the country from which the United States declared its independence.
Shocking? That may have been the high point in our civic and historical literacy if a new poll from the Annenberg Public Policy Center is any indication.
The survey of 1,416 adults was timed to coincide with Constitution Day this week. Barely a third (36%) of those surveyed could name all three branches of government.
It gets worse.
A third (35%) could not name a single one. Not one.
“Although surveys reflect disapproval of the way Congress, the President and the Supreme Court are conducting their affairs, the Annenberg survey demonstrates that many know surprisingly little about these branches of government,” Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center, said in a press release. “This survey offers dramatic evidence of the need for more and better civics education.”
The study also found that more than half of Americans do not know which party controls the House and Senate. It did not, apparently, ask if they even knew the names of the two major parties so they could try to even fake their way through the answer, as those surveyed apparently must have done regularly in order to graduate high school.
Why is this important? Because 37% of those surveyed favored banning the news media from reporting anything related to national security without government approval. Only a little more than half opposed the suggestion. You can’t understand why the First Amendment is important if you don’t even know what the First Amendment is.
It also brings up another question: What on earth is being taught in history and civics classes?
By the way, you know who could’ve aced the questions that were asked? Every immigrant taking the U.S. citizenship oath.