I have come to the inescapable conclusion that most Americans are stupid. Actually I take that back as it is technically inaccurate. I have come to the inescapable conclusion that many Americans are shockingly ignorant. Basically we seem to not know anything about anything, and many seem to relish in their lack of knowledge.
A recent study by the Claims Conference looked at Americans’ knowledge level about the holocaust and found some disturbing statistics. Approximately 22% of Millennials haven’t heard or are not sure if they have heard about the Holocaust. That is 1 out of 5 people who have not heard about one of the singularly most important and well-known historical events in the past century. Four out of ten Millenials believe the number of Jews that were killed in the Holocaust is 2 million or less. Approximately 4 million less than the actual number. Half of all Millenials cannot name a single concentration camp, and 41% of Americans as a whole could not correctly identify Auschwitz. Worse than that two thirds of Millenials failed to correctly identify Auschwitz. This is entirely disheartening that so many Americans are missing even basic knowledge about such an important period of recent history suggests to me that there are broad, underlying problems that are causing this shocking lacking of knowledge.
In the fall of 2017 a survey was performed by Annenberg Public Policy Center that found that 37% of adults could not a name a single right guaranteed by the first amendment. Even more shocking was that only 26% or about 1 in 4 adults could successfully name the three branches of the government. That means approximately 3 out 4 adults cannot correctly name the three branches of the executive branch. I’m starting to get the idea that these statistics clearly show that Americans are shockingly dumb.
Curious as to how bad this problem really was I decided to look into the educational system and I discovered that the numbers are quite disappointing. The Nation’s Report Card suggests that among high school seniors only 24% of students are at or above proficient in civics, with only 12% proficient in US History. This blew my mind. This means that the vast majority of students are never reaching proficiency in these topics. I was wondering if perhaps there was a huge graduation issue, wherein many students are failing to graduate high school because of this obvious failure to teach basic skills, and well that story is interesting. It turns out the high school graduation rate is approximately 83 percent. This suggests that there are a huge number of students who do not even have basic proficiency in skills they are supposed to develop in High School, and yet they are receiving a degree that claims they do have these skills.
I have ranted in the past about how I feel that grade inflation is damaging our educational system, and I think is further proof of a fundamental flaw in our educational system. The degrees given out our both meaningless and important. They are meaningless because they fail to represent any real level of achievement or knowledge, but are important because they are necessary for employment. There needs to be more people who fail. If you fail to reach the proficiency levels that the degree is meant to represent you should fail to receive the degree.