America’s Founders saw themselves as custodians of a sacred inheritance. Their ancestors gave them liberty; their duty was to pass it on.
They were convinced that American freedom could only survive if each generation understood its founding principles and the sacrifices made to secure it.
Failing Our Students, Failing America: Holding Colleges Accountable for Teaching America’s History and Institutions asks: Is American higher education doing its duty to prepare the next generation to keep America free?
In fall 2005, researchers at the University of Connecticut’s Department of Public Policy (UConnDPP), commissioned by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute’s (ISI) National Civic Literacy Board, conducted a survey of some 14,000 freshmen and seniors at 50 colleges and universities. Students were asked 60 multiple-choice questions to measure their knowledge in four subject areas: America’s history, government, international relations, and market economy. The disappointing results were published in the fall of 2006 in The Coming Crisis in Citizenship: Higher Education’s Failure to Teach America’s History and Institutions. The key results: not only did the average college senior fail in all four subjects, but seniors did little better than their freshman counterparts. This report follows up and extends The Coming Crisis in Citizenship. It is based on a second survey in fall 2006 of about 14,000 freshmen and seniors at 50 colleges, again conducted by UConnDPP’s research team. The new results are consistent with the results of the first survey, and new college and demographic data permit an extension of the analysis. Again, American college seniors failed all four subjects, and they did hardly better than their freshmen counterparts.
The question now is: Will legislators, donors, trustees, parents, and other decision-makers hold our colleges accountable?