Civics Illiteracy? College students couldn't decipher between US, Russia constitutions, prof says

Thomas Jefferson famously said that "wherever the people are well informed they can be trusted with their own government." Some educators are alarmed that literacy regarding the U.S. Constitution has been on the decline for a while, according to studies.

Published: October 1, 2023 5:48am

Political science professor at Suffolk Community College and Campus Reform Higher Education Fellow Nick Giordano said that 90% of college students couldn't differentiate the U.S. constitution from the Russia constitution. 

"So for the last decade, I assign my students a constitutional exercise," Giordano said on the "Just the News, No Noise" TV show. "It's to see if they could identify the Constitution, and 90% of my students can't differentiate between the American from the Russian constitution. It really is startling." 

Literacy regarding the U.S. Constitution has been on the decline for a while, according to other studies.

According to a survey conducted by the University of Pennsylvania's Annenburg Public Policy Center, only one in six U.S. adults could name any of the branches of government.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress, a congressionally mandated program within the U.S. Department of Education reported that 31% of eighth-graders performed below the NAEP Basic level in civics in 2022.

Giordano said that the education system is failing young people by not teaching them the foundation of the document. 

"When I asked my students, 'Don't you feel embarrassed that you don't even know the Constitution and why is that?'" he said. "The number one response is 'we've never read it.'"

"I find that astounding that after 13 years....that not a single teacher in the K through 12 system and college, thought to assign the students to read the Constitution and actually discuss it so they understand it," he continued.

Another survey in Kansas taken back in 2017 reported that 21% of high school students could not name any First Amendment freedoms. 

Giordano stated that America will slip away if the Constitution is not taught to the next generation. 

"Our constitution is unique in that it curtails the power of the government and empowers 'We the People,'" he said. "Unfortunately since it's not being taught in our schools and most people don't know the're not going to defend what you don't know."

"My fear is that as we see the Constitution slip away, the America that we know is also going to slip away along with it," he concluded. 

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