Newest Issue - May 2011

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Flunking Civics: Why America's Kids Know So Little

Parents traditionally worry about what their children are learning in school, but it’s what those students are not learning that’s even more unsettling. Only one state deserved a rating of A when it came to teaching its students American history, according to a recent study. Most states fall in the category of “mediocre to awful.”

The study ranked history standards in 49 states and the District of Columbia (Rhode Island has no mandatory history standards, only suggested guidelines) for “content and rigor” and “clarity and specificity” on a scale of A to F. Only South Carolina got straight A’s.

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Nine states’ standards earned a grade of A- or B. But a majority of states—28 in all—had standards ratings of D or F, the study found.

The findings confirm what the study’s authors have long suspected, says Chester E. Finn Jr., president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, the Washington, D.C.-based educational think tank that conducted the study.

“No wonder so many Americans know so little about our nation’s past,” he says.

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