Our nation’s older generations remember civics being a main component in their educational experience, but today’s classrooms no longer emphasize civics. Civics, the study of government and the role of its citizens, is not formally assessed in Florida but studies prove citizens lack the necessary civic knowledge to preserve our nation’s founding principles and the ability to self-govern.
The Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI) “works to instill an understanding and appreciation for America’s Founding Principles.” The goals of the organization are to help educate our nation’s future leaders about six core beliefs including: limited government, individual liberty, personal responsibility, rule of law, free market economy and traditional values.
In 2008 the ISI performed a study and found our citizens are not equipped with basic civic knowledge. They asked over 2,000 adults of all ages and educational backgrounds 33 simple civics questions such as, “What are the three branches of government?” and “Who is the commander in chief of the U.S. military?” How do you think Americans performed on the exam? Well, 71% of Americans failed the test, with high school graduates scoring 44% and college graduates also failing at 57%. Americans averaged an overall score of 49%. Did you know that fewer than half of all Americans can name all three branches of government? This is a minimal requirement for understanding America’s constitutional system. All Americans participate in the free enterprise system but only 54% can correctly identify a basic description of what it means. What I found most alarming about the test results is that 30% of our elected officials do not know that “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” are the inalienable rights referred to in the Declaration of Independence. Do you think you could pass the ISI civics exam? Here is the link to take the test: http://www.isi.org/quiz.aspx?q=FE5C3B47-9675-41E0-9CF3-072BB31E2692.
This is one reason why Mason Classical Academy and Hillsdale College have embraced the classical liberal arts model. The Academy will provide a curriculum with a strong history and civics component, which will help reverse the decline in political knowledge. In the classical, liberal arts model, primary source documents are used to teach history, with an emphasis on American history and America’s founding principles. If you would like to learn more about Mason Classical Academy and its partnership with Hillsdale College, please attend the Hillsdale College Charter School Initiative Seminar on January 12th at 1:00 PM at the South Regional Library. Please visit www.masonclassicalacademy.org for more details.