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  • What Are Our College Students Learning?

    The recent CPAC conference showed us that the conservative movement is powered, in part, by the students and young leaders who keep important political issues front and center on their respective campuses. A majority of the people who attended the conference were young people, and it was clear they took home a great wealth of knowledge about our founding principles, our political system and our economy. While it is certain that these students are well versed in these subject matters, it may not be true for their peers back on campus.

    On Monday, February 22, the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI) conducted a panel discussion at The Heritage Foundation and discussed their recent studies on how well American colleges teach the political and economic principles that our nation was founded on. The 2007 and 2008 studies tested the civic literacy of respondents through questions on American history, politics and economics. The results were disturbing:

    • Overall, college seniors failed the test.
    • College seniors scored only slightly higher than their freshman counterparts overall.
    • “Negative Learning” (where freshman score higher than seniors) occurs at Duke, Cornell, Princeton and Yale.
    • Only 48% of Americans can correctly identify the 3 branches of government.

    If students aren’t able to pass a basic test on politics and economics after earning a degree, what are they taking away from their time on campus? ISI extended its study in 2009, and the statistics show that the college experience influences people heavily on social issues:

    • College graduates are more likely to support same-sex marriage and abortion on demand.
    • College graduates are less likely to believe in school prayer and the belief that a someone with a good work ethic will achieve success.
    • Those with college degrees tend to be further left on the ideological scale.

    Progressive social ideas seem to be more pervasive than founding principles in our nation’s intellectual institutions. Our founding documents and the principles that the young students at CPAC learned about are too often neglected. Let’s hope the next generation educate themselves on our shared history and do not discount the value of our founding documents for our nation’s future.

    ISI’s study has shown that civic knowledge influences people’s opinions on a wider range of issues including American ideals and institutions, the economy, higher education, culture and society, and public policy. Greater civic education, whether gained at a college or independently, helps people understand the institutions that help our country operate. It’s time for our universities to see the benefits of a greater civic education and begin requiring classes with civic content.

    Nick Taddeo is a member of the Young Leaders Program at the Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please visit: http://www.heritage.org/about/departments/ylp.cfm

    Posted in Education, First Principles, Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    5 Responses to What Are Our College Students Learning?

    1. Billie says:

      Yep. That's what they're teaching in all levels of education. Indoctrination into socialism. Getting ready for the government made crisis as the future holds no jobs but government jobs.

      Thanks to the youth of America, who are "more educated" in everything but freedom.

    2. bob Johnson says:

      I always wonder if the colleges are so successful on teaching the liberal life style. Why are there so many big name conservatives out there who went to college? I think you will find the young have been more tolerant and liberal in there thinking then the old at any time in history you care to pick.

    3. Billie says:

      "more tolerant and liberal in their thinking then the old at any time in history you care to pick."

      You must not have school aged children! They aren't taught tolerance! They're taught sympathy! FOR SELF AND ABROAD! That's why they're so accepting of this government take-over! And LIBERAL, what????? LIBERAL with other peoples money???!!!! The example of the current government EXPOSING personal hardships for PITY resulting in this delusional government made crisis!!!!!! They sure don't teach students strength, dignity or integrity. They sure don't teach the ability to overcome. They teach resentment and hatred. They teach guilt. "White privilege" is a good example of racial resentment and intolerance taught in government schools.

      They also teach, not to all but they do teach "entitlement." They teach HUMAN WEAKNESS. Maybe teach isn't the right word, GOVERNMENT INFLUENCE!

    4. Billie says:

      Government education influences government dependency, getting them ready for the government take-over! They do not influence human strength or FREEDOM or independence.

    5. Josh says:

      I'm in college right now as a senior for a Computer Science degree. I just canceled a course entitled "Vision and Culture". The syllabus had us discussing how the news media is often presenting a different story, at least in a different way, than might actually be happening.

      Instead, we spent the first hour and a half (and by we, I mean the entire class and professor, except for me) discussing how evil George Bush and Donald Rumsfield were, how Al Jazeera is far less biased than American cable news, and how the war in Iraq was an Imperialist war for oil.

      I didn't stick around for the second half of the class; I had driven home and dropped it before the scheduled end time. I didn't learn a thing the entire time outside of the fact that there are some people with bitter hatred and pseudo-intellectualism teaching college courses and making sure students who don't share their viewpoints feel uncomfortable.

      And yet, in all my years in college, not once have we covered the founding fathers. Or the articles of confederation (haven't even heard them mentioned). We covered European history in one course. Everything other history class was on Africa or some distant country that lived in a stone or bronze age culture until Europe showed up. World history is interesting to me, but at the neglect of American history, I don't understand it.

      I have had to research it all on my own and thankfully had an amazing high school advanced-placement government course with a teacher who actually taught all of those things. Too many of my peers never hear another opinion, and yet they think they are open minded. I was the only person who didn't completely oppose the war in that class I dropped. I was the only person who didn't say something scathing and hateful about conservatives.

      It's awfully sad.

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