Once again, a study has show that American students are woefully ignorant of history. Test scores from the National Assessment of Educational Progress demonstrate, writes the Wall Street Journal, that only “20% of U.S. fourth-graders and 17% of eighth-graders who took the 2010 history exam were ‘proficient’ or ‘advanced’…” and only 12 percent of 12th-graders were so. In fact, their knowledge is so lacking that fewer than “a quarter of American 12th-graders knew China was North Korea's ally during the Korean War, and only 35% of fourth-graders knew the purpose of the Declaration of Independence,” the paper continued. Other studies have shown similarly stunning results. In 2008, the New York Times wrote about how fewer than “half of American teenagers…knew when the Civil War was fought, and one-quarter thought that Christopher Columbus sailed to the New World sometime after 1750, not in 1492.” The Times also reported that “[a]bout a quarter of the teenagers surveyed were unable to correctly identify Adolf Hitler as Germany’s chancellor during World War II, instead identifying him variously as a munitions maker, an Austrian premier and the German Kaiser.”
Now, of course, this educational dysfunction inspires many to sound the alarm about America’s decline. And we hear many proposed solutions. Unfortunately, though, the typical ones will do nothing to right the ship.
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