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Teens don’t know Marx from Madison

December 20th, 2010

A recent poll from the Bill of Rights Institute and Harris Interactive provides some alarming statistics about the state of civic education in America. Here are some of the findings.

  • 42 percent of American adults incorrectly chose one of America’s Founding documents as the source of Karl Marx’s exposition of Communism, ʺfrom each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.ʺ Of these incorrect answers, the most commonly chosen was the Bill of Rights.
  • 60 percent of American adults did not correctly identify the principle that our government’s powers are derived from the people as an attribute that makes America unique.
  • 55 percent of American adults did not recognize that “education” is not a First Amendment right.
  • Nearly 1 in 10 American adults do not realize that the right to petition our government is a freedom guaranteed in the First Amendment.
  • Only 20 percent of American adults correctly selected the Tenth Amendment as the Amendment that reserves powers to the states and the people.

This is tragic, and disappointing. At the Harlan Institute, we want to help fix this situation.
As I wrote recently in the Roanoke Times, “The more our society knows about the Supreme Court and our Constitution, the stronger our republic will be. Through programs like FantasySCOTUS and HARLANconnect, the Harlan Institute aims to help America reach that goal.”