From high-school dropouts to college graduates to elected officials, Americans are “alarmingly uninformed” about the USA’s history, founding principals and economy ”” knowledge needed to participate wisely in civic life, says a report scheduled to be released Thursday.
The study, the third in a series by the non-profit Intercollegiate Studies Institute, finds that half of U.S. adults can name all three branches of government, and 54% know that the power to declare war belongs to Congress. Almost 40% incorrectly said that it belongs to the president.
Those who have held elected office lack civic knowledge; 43% do not know the Electoral College is a constitutionally mandated assembly that elects the president. One in five thinks it “trains those aspiring for higher office” or “was established to supervise the first televised presidential debates.”
“Without knowledge of your country’s history, key texts and institutions, you don’t have a frame of reference to judge the politics and policies of today,” says Richard Brake, head of the institute’s American Civic Literacy Program.