This is pitiful.
One of every four Americans (25%) cannot answer the question from what country the 13 American colonies won their independence. Among younger Americans, 18 to 29 years old, as many as 40% of them said they didn’t know or weren’t sure.
Those are the dismal findings of a poll conducted by Marist College in New York. The following is from the transcript of the PBS Lehrer News Hour last Friday, July 2, 2010:
JUDY WOODRUFF: Speaking of the Fourth of July, a poll I noticed today — Marist College in New York did a poll which showed that a fourth of Americans, when you ask them from what country did the United States win its independence, one-fourth of Americans said they weren’t sure or they didn’t know. And 40% of 18-to-29-year-olds in this country said they didn’t know or weren’t sure. What does that say?
DAVID BROOKS: Yes. I think it is an insult to Abraham Lincoln’s leadership of the Revolutionary War. [Note: Brooks was joking.]
DAVID BROOKS: No. To me, the substance of it is that we have traded history for social studies in schools, that we don’t do the ABC, here is what happened when. And I notice this when I talk to kids, including sometimes my own kids. They just don’t get the dates. They don’t get the dates. They don’t have the scaffolding of history. And they do a lot more social structure. They do cultures. They do this. They do that. But they don’t have the basic — the facts and lineage of what happened when. And, so, those basic facts if, you don’t have the scaffolding, you are not going to remember. You’re not going to know how to organize it and put it all together into some sort of theory.
MARK SHIELDS: We’re a lot more sensitive, but we’re a lot less informed. What is rather terrifying is the figure you cited about 40% of the people under the age of 29. And 80%, close to, over — those over 45 do know. There was something going on in schools. The people, the older people are less likely to have gone to college than are the younger ones. And the idea that somebody is going through college and graduating and not knowing a fundamental fact like that is terrifying and it’s depressing. And…
JUDY WOODRUFF: I mean, when I saw the poll, I looked at it and looked at it again, and checked the validity, checked it with another pollster, and they said, these are real numbers.
MARK SHIELDS: Yes. It’s not good news.
You can watch it for yourself on the PBS website, HERE. The discussion about the poll begins around the 8:45 mark.
H/t my ol’ friend Sol.