- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 4, 2001

As America celebrates its independence today, more than one in five U.S. teen-agers don't know what country their forefathers fought to gain their freedom.
Twenty-two percent of teen-agers didn't know the United States declared independence from Great Britain during the Revolutionary War, according to a nationwide survey commissioned by the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.
Fourteen percent of the teens thought France was the enemy.
Seventeen percent didn't know there were 13 colonies, and 15 percent didn't know that the Declaration of Independence was adopted on July 4, 1776, by the Continental Congress.
More than 1,000 teen-agers across the country answered 10 questions from fourth-grade level history. The survey was conducted by a New Jersey-based company, Caravan ORC International, which quizzed 511 teen-age girls and 509 boys.
"When you look at these numbers, it means more than 5 million U.S. teen-agers don't understand the true meaning of Independence Day," said Colin Campbell, president and chairman of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.
"As our nation is taking a hard look at our education system, these statistics indicate American history is one area that we can't afford to ignore."
Ninety-two percent knew George Washington was the first president of the United States, but nearly a quarter didn't know who fought in the Civil War, and about a third didn't know who wrote "The Star-Spangled Banner."
Nearly all those surveyed knew that George W. Bush is president, though 4 percent did not.
"That's sad," said Tricia Province, 16, a high school student from Carson City, Nev., who toured the Mall this week.
"Don't schools teach that?" asked her friend Bobbi Jo Bauman, 16, of Markesan, Wis.
Both girls took the quiz and achieved a perfect score.
Tricia said she believes too many teens are snoozing through their lessons. "I have some people who sleep in my history class," she said.
She recalled how one of her classmates recently saw a photo of Mexican President Vicente Fox on television and confused him with President Bush.
Three more tourists, from Houston, breezed through each question while resting by an art museum fountain. Brad Naylor liked the question that asked for the name of the first capital of the United States.
"New York City," he said. He burst into laughter when told that 1 percent of the teens in the survey thought New York is the capital today.
"Don't they read the paper?" asked fellow Texan Jane Thiel, 47.
The survey results didn't surprise Chuck Riley, 42, an employee of NASA in Houston. When he once showed a picture of the District to an intern from Pennsylvania State University, the intern pointed at the Washington Monument and asked, "What's that?"
Outside the National Archives, Chicago resident Amy Hurley, 26, said parents need to encourage students to turn off the TV and pick up a book.
Miss Hurley, in turn, took the quiz and — whoops — incorrectly thought the Continental Congress adopted the Constitution on July 4, 1776. She said she wasn't good under pressure.

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