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A professor found that a vast majority of his university students were unable to tell the US Constitution from the Russian constitution.
Nicholas Giordano, a professor of Political Science at Suffolk Community College in New York and a Campus Reform Higher Education fellow, gives his students a citizenship exam at the beginning of a new semester.
Giordano asks “very basic questions about our founding and our system of governance.” Some questions include who the Speaker of the House is, who is considered the founder of the Constitution, and how many Supreme Court justices there are.
He also administers a Constitutional exercise, providing students with Chapter 1 of the Russian Constitution, only replacing the Russian Federation with the United States, and Duma with Congress to see if they recognize that it is not the US Constitution. He asks his students to write a one-paragraph response sharing their thoughts on this constitution.
Giordano notes the importance that the Russian Constitution, crafted in 1993, begins with “We the multinational people…”
Many students respond confessing how they have never read the US Constitution and how they appreciate the foresight of the founding fathers to implement minimum wage and paternity leave.
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Students overwhelmingly fail both parts of the exam. This semester only 11 students out of approximately 175 students passed, Giordano said.
Historically, the results have been similar. Giordano has given the exam for the last twelve years, but only 348 students have passed out of the 2,176 who took it.
He says it’s, “a shameful indictment of our K-12 education system.”
In order to pass 12th Grade Social Studies, Giordano states that students should be able to pass a basic citizenship exam and identify the US Constitution.
After Giordano reveals that it is actually the Russian constitution, he says that his students have expressions of shock, embarrassment, and shame. But, he uses the exercise as a learning opportunity to help his students and the exercise becomes an “invaluable tool to make my classes more successful, and they dramatically improve student engagement.”
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The professor notes how the American education system is obsessed with “introducing complex controversial theories to students who have not developed the brain capacity or critical thinking skills to understand complex issues such as gender fluidity and critical race theory.”
While many schools across America claim to still teach civics, many teach “activism/indoctrination masquerading as civics.”
Giordano argues that K-12 educators should be focused on teaching the basic functions of American government, the institutions within the government, and what makes America unique and links us together as a nation.
According to the Nation’s Report Card, which is issued by the US Department of Education, only 24% of 12th and 8th graders are proficient in Civics. Even worse, only 12% of 12th graders and 15% of 8th graders are proficient in American history.
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“Enough with the activism” Giodano says. “We need to rethink our approach to education and get back to basics. How can students formulate opinions on what the government should or should not do regarding the issues, when they don’t even know the roles and responsibilities of our institutions, and who is responsible for what in the government?”