by Pa Rock
In preparation for Constitution Day, the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, a conservative think tank, wanted to get a handle on the civics knowledge of Oklahoma high school students - so they commissioned a survey. Strategic Vision, a national polling organization, came up with a simple test of ten questions that were taken from the actual exam that immigrants have to take to become U.S. citizens. The questions that the polling organization selected were very simple, soft balls actually, whose answers should be nearly automatic in our informed society.
Here are the questions that were asked of Oklahoma high school students:
1. What is the law of the land?
2. What do we call the first ten amendments to the Constitution?
3. What are the two parts of the U.S. Congress?
4. How many justices are there on the Supreme Court?
5. Who wrote the Declaration of Independence?
6. What ocean is on the east coast of the United States?
7. What are the two major political parties in the United States?
8. We elect a U.S. Senator for how many years?
9. Who was the first President of the United States?
10. Who is in charge of the executive branch?
Immigrants must score 60% on the exam in order to qualify for citizenship. Using six of ten as a passing grade, only 3% of the Oklahoma students who were surveyed would have passed the test.
Not only would 97% of Oklahoma high school students have failed the test, three out of four could not answer question #9 - Who was the first President of the United States? Really!
(This may explain why Oklahoma sends the likes of Tom Coburn and James Mountain Inhofe to the United States Senate - for six year terms! Or why every county in the state went for John McCain in the presidential election - hoping to elect him President so that he could run the executive branch!)
Brandon Dutcher, the head of the conservative think tank that commissioned the survey, did point out one saving grace for Oklahomans - he said that Arizona had similar results! Color me surprised!
Noting that Thomas Jefferson had warned that a nation can't expect to be ignorant and free, Mr. Dutcher said, "It points to a real serious problem. We're not going to remain ignorant and free."
Are you listening Senator Coburn? Senator Inhofe? Senator Kyl? Senator McCain? Is there a reason why students in your states are basically ignorant about United States government, history, and geography? Is your focus on the future, fighting for things like education, health care, and social justice - or do you spend your official time appearing at tea parties and stirring discontent for political gain? Are you demonizing government and convincing today's youth that it is irrelevant, or worse yet, evil? You may not like our President, but do your personal feelings merit the need to be openly disrespectful toward the man or the office?
Is that the way you were raised?
Are you setting a positive example for tomorrow's leaders?
I didn't think so.