An estimated 4.5 million young people will vote for the first time in the 2012 presidential election. Is this a good or bad thing?
The popular answer is that it is indeed good. Many people think that the very act of voting is inherently virtuous. But in an age when many political candidates are all too happy to promise the moon to win votes and run roughshod over constitutional limits on their authority, a citizen who votes unwisely can contribute to great harm. He might even help undo the very liberty that affords him the right to vote in the first place.
So, less than 11 months from a critical election, we should ask: What do these 4.5 million young people really know about the principles upon which the American experiment in liberty was founded?
The answer is troubling. According to the most recent National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP for short, also called “the nation’s report card”), a majority of high-school students scored below “basic” in their understanding of U.S. history. A survey two years ago in Oklahoma, meanwhile, found that over three-quarters of high-school students couldn’t name George Washington as the nation’s first president, and almost as many couldn’t name the Constitution as the supreme law of the land.
This is little wonder, given that education standards themselves are often poor. Fourth-graders are taught by the makers of that very same NAEP, for example, that the Declaration of Independence means Americans “are given certain rights,” which elides the Founding Fathers’ understanding that those rights come from our Creator. Students are also taught that the message of the Declaration was that people ought to have “some control over their government.”
“Some control” is certainly a far cry, however, from what the Declaration of Independence actually says, namely, that “it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish” government when it “becomes destructive” of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Poorly educated students, of course, become poorly educated adults. To get a handle on just how bad the problem is, the Bill of Rights Institute, a non-profit dedicated to teaching students about the words and ideas of America’s founders, commissioned a national survey last year to determine what citizens know about the Bill of Rights. We discovered that nearly one in five Americans believe Karl Marx’s famous dictum, “from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs,” can be found in the Bill of Rights. What’s more, 60 percent of Americans couldn’t….
Read more from Dr. Tony Woodlief at FloydReports.com.
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