EDITORIAL: Ivory-tower failure

America’s universities flunk the citizenship test

Story Topics
Question of the Day

Is it still considered bad form to talk politics during a social gathering?

View results

Going to college doesn’t make you a better citizen. That’s the main finding from the latest edition of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute’s (ISI) Civics Literacy Report. The study, which will be released Tuesday, concludes that American universities have been doing an inadequate job when it comes to preparing students for their civic responsibilities. The report found that the politically active were more likely to rely on self-education and frequently attended religious services.

The study’s authors based their conclusions on a random sample of 2,508 Americans who assessed their engagement in their community. Involvement ranged from basic steps such as registering to vote to more active participation in rallies, donating to a political campaign or volunteering to help someone running for office. The study found no correlation between earning a college degree and the more active forms of participation. In fact, those who had been elected to public office knew less, on average, than did other citizens about American government, history and economics: “Notably, only 32 percent could accurately define the free enterprise system.”

The Founding Fathers realized that the health of a democracy rests on a foundation of proper education. The results of the study, however, lend support to the frequent conservative complaint that denizens of the ivory tower are more interested in proselytizing than fulfilling their role of producing the next generation of an informed electorate. Trendy, politically correct causes dominate today’s classroom instruction, with one far more likely to run into “climate change” and “fair trade” than “how a bill becomes a law.” Real learning takes a back seat, and good citizenship suffers as a result.

It is appropriate that this study will be released on George Washington’s birthday. The report notes that “Washington received very little formal education during his upbringing, and that his primary schooling came by virtue of self-education and his military training, which elevates practical wisdom over abstract logic.” Today, the voice of citizens at town-hall meetings and Tea Party events echoes this vital dedication to practical wisdom and continuous self-education that is key to the future of our republic.

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Comments
blog comments powered by Disqus
TWT Video Picks
You Might Also Like
  • Maureen McDonnell looks on as her husband, former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, made a statement on Tuesday after the couple was indicted on corruption charges. (associated press)

    PRUDEN: Where have the big-time grifters gone?

  • This photo taken Jan. 9, 2014,  shows New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie gesturing as he answers a question during a news conference  at the Statehouse in Trenton.  Christie will propose extending the public school calendar and lengthening the school day in a speech he hopes will help him rebound from an apparent political payback scheme orchestrated by key aides. The early front-runner for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination will make a case Tuesday Jan. 14, 2014, that children who spend more time in school graduate better prepared academically, according to excerpts of his State of the State address obtained by The Associated Press. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

    BRUCE: Bombastic arrogance or humble determination? Chris Christie’s choice

  • ** FILE ** Secretary of State Hillary Rodham testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013, before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the deadly September attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, that killed Ambassador J. Chris Stevens and three other Americans. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

    PRUDEN: The question to haunt the West

  • Get Breaking Alerts