Are you smarter than a H.S. Senior

A new survey of high school students points to troubling trends in our nation’s schools according to “Still at Risk: What Students Don’t Know, Even Now” released by the American Enterprise Institute. Among the discouraging statistics on history from the 1,200 students surveyed: *just 43% correctly knew the Civil War was fought between 1850 and 1900; *about half knew that communism was the focus of Joseph McCarthy’s investigations in the 1950s; *abotu half knew that Orwell classic 1984 was about dictatorship and collectivism. Yet, *97% knew Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote the “I Have a Dream Speech” *88% knew Pearl Harbor prompted the US’s entry into WWII Perhaps most troubling is the following comment in the USA Today story reporting on the study:

In all, students earned a C in history and an F in literature, though the survey suggests students do well on topics schools cover.

Checker Finn, Jr. of the Fordham Foundation had the best summary when he told USA Today:

“School has emphasized Martin Luther King, and everybody teaches it, and people are learning it,” says Chester Finn of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, an education think tank. “What a better thing it would be if people also had the Civil War part and the civil rights part, and the Harriet Tubman part and the Uncle Tom’s Cabin part.”

Take the 6 question on-line test at AOL News.

Samuel R. Staley, Ph.D. is a senior research fellow at Reason Foundation and managing director of the DeVoe L. Moore Center at Florida State University in Tallahassee where he teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in urban planning, regulation, and urban economics. Prior to joining Florida State, Staley was director of urban growth and land-use policy for Reason Foundation where he helped establish its urban policy program in 1997.