CRF Blog

Civic Ignorance in the News

by Damon Huss

After Newsweek recently gave 1,000 Americans the official U.S. citizenship test, the news magazine reported some dismal statistics. Only 29 percent could name the vice president. Only 44 percent could say what the Bill of Rights is. But here’s the rub: 6 percent could not circle Independence Day on a calendar.

Shocked? Well, according to Andrew Romano, who reported on the test in Newsweek (and its affiliate, The Daily Beast), “civic ignorance is nothing new.” He cites several sources for this ignorance, from the complexity of the American political system to dramatic income inequality (and the educational inequality that comes with it). See Romano’s full article, How Dumb Are We? (The Daily Beast, March 20, 2011). Also see United States of Ignorants? Americans Don’t Know the Constitution, Survey Finds (ABC News, March 24, 2011) and Don’t Want to Be an American Idiot (KPCC 89.3 FM, March 23, 2011).

Try the following civics tests and see how you fare: