Americans Keep Flunking Civics Tests


Quick – can you list the five foundational rights enumerated in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution?

Don’t be embarrassed if you get stuck. Practically everybody does.

A survey commissioned by Samuel Hubbard Shoe Company finds half of Americans think “pursuit of happiness” is a First Amendment guarantee.

It’s not. That’s in the Declaration of Independence.

Dr. Cal Jillson teaches this kind of stuff as a professor of Political Science at SMU. “I think people know the stuff they come across in their day to day lives. Almost everyone knows freedom of speech and press, even though they don’t support the full meaning of those amendments. Many Americans say they support freedom of speech but then are concerned about communists or others speaking at local venues or colleges.”

For the record, the five foundational rights are speech, religion, press, public assembly and redress of government.

Allan Miller, founder and CEO of News Literacy Project, says we live in an information age, but it can’t all be believed. “We live in the most fraught information landscape in human history, and it’s got more good and credible information available literally at our fingertips, but it’s competing for our attention with information this is intended to pursued, sell, mislead, misinform and exploit, and it’s incredibly challenging to know what is credible vs. what is not, and it’s not a subject that is widely taught in our U.S. schools.”


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