Washington Examiner: Americans Don’t Know Ike

Over at the Washington Examiner, Paul Bedard reports on the latest National research from the Driving Force Institute, focusing on how the average American doesn’t know Dwight Eisenhower was a general during World War II. Of course, today is Ike’s birthday.

The full article can be found here: https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/washington-secrets/on-ikes-birthday-many-are-clueless-about-general-president

Happy reading!

DFI: Most Americans Still Can’t Pass U.S. Citizenship Test

Oct. 6, 2021 — During a time that saw an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, the percentage of Americans who could pass the U.S. Citizenship Test is only 42%, but that still marks an increase of six points since advocates initially conducted the survey three years ago. The Driving Force Institute (DFI) says the fact that nearly 6 in 10 Americans could not pass a citizenship test highlights the urgent need for new approaches to teaching and learning American history. 

Only 17% know that the U.S. Constitution was written in 1787; a mere 27% correctly understand that Benjamin Franklin was a U.S. diplomat (36% thought he invented the lightbulb); and less than half (43%) know that Woodrow Wilson was president during World War I. 

The survey uses the same questions that those who apply for citizenship must answer; improved responses were seen in a number of areas. For instance, the percentage of Americans who know the United States fought Japan, Germany, and Italy in World War II has gone from 50% to 55% since 2018. 

The percentage of Americans who know that nine Justices serve on the U.S. Supreme Court increased from 43% to 51%.

People applying for citizenship must correctly answer 12 out of 20 questions on the test. Even though most survey takers failed the test, 63% said the test’s difficulty was “about right.” 

The DFI survey, conducted by Lincoln Park Strategies, has a margin of error of ±3.1 with a random sample of 1,000 American citizens.

Patrick Riccards, founder and chief executive officer of DFI, says, “We launched our initiative to make American history content interesting and relevant for today’s learners, especially females and people of color. The latest survey shows we’re not moving fast enough. Americans are rightfully proud of their country, but they risk losing what makes it special if more of us don’t understand and appreciate our history.” 

DFI’s UNTOLD series on YouTube is the home for short formvideos; it includes sections highlighting Black, Latino, and women’s history; DFI also makes related materials available to educators, whether in a traditional classroom, virtual or hybrid setting, including a comprehensive professional development series created in partnership with the Kentucky Valley Education Collective

Makematic and DoGoodery create and distribute the videos. DFI is also collaborating with the American Battlefield Trust, New York Historical Society, iCivics, Smithsonian, and others on the creation of specific video series for high school students. 

DFI uses an integrated set of efforts designed to get at the three legs of the history instruction stool:

Support instruction for current K–12 American history teachers, designed to both improve their own understanding of American history and empower them to better connect with their students and make history an exciting and worthwhile pursuit of study. As an incentive, teachers who successfully participate in DFI receive micro-credentials and badges that signify they are part of a national network committed to improving American history instruction.

Curriculum design for both traditional classrooms and out-of-school-time environments, 

changing the very way American history is taught in communities across the nation; and

Direct-to-consumer engagement, providing interesting and dynamic learning opportunities to students (and by extension,their families) through a digital platform.

To meet these needs, DFI launched a pilot project that recruitssmall teams of educators in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. This project helps shape the development of the website content, ensuring the most effective utilization possible.

Ultimately, DFI will seek to develop an online professional development platform, a series of “historians’ toolkits,” models for a “flipped” American history curriculum, and an archive of games and simulations for educators to use with students.

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MEDIA CONTACT: 

Stacey Finkel

Stacey.Finkel@ASPR.bz

703-304-1377

History Matters, We Think

“A large majority (75%) agree that a strong understanding of U.S. history is needed for successful citizenship, yet the same survey finds that only 43% say today’s high school graduates possess this necessary knowledge of national history.

“Furthermore, Americans place English, math and science higher than history when asked to rank how important they feel each academic subject is for today’s high school students to be successful in college or in their career. English topped the rankings at 71%; history garnered 57% of the very important vote; only foreign language came in lower than history.”

From a Patch article reporting on the latest survey from dear ol’ Eduflack’s Driving Force Institute. The full article can be found here – https://patch.com/district-columbia/washingtondc/do-high-school-students-know-what-electoral-college-does-nodx

No, Public Education is Not Equal

A recent survey has provided yet another “duh” moment, as the majority of Americans say the know public education is “unequal” in the United States. Yes, we know not all children have access to a high-quality public education. The question we should all be asking is what we can and should do to remedy it.

I explore the topic on the BAM Radio Network.

Give it a listen at https://www.bamradionetwork.com/track/are-we-really-committed-to-equal-education/

How Important, Exactly, Is Learning Today?

For weeks now, we’ve seen experts declare “victory” when it comes to virtual education in the time of Coronavirus. Voice after voice has taken to social media claiming to have solved the puzzle and gotten students learning again.

In reality, there probably isn’t a great deal of new learning happening online these days. In the Eduflack homeschool, we are seeing a lot of reviewing of last lessons and a lot of digital busywork. And we are only doing a half of a traditional school day each day (and that’s following the 10-day virtual spring break we just had).

And maybe that’s just fine and dandy. According to a new survey of parents across the United States, they aren’t expecting or desiring new learning between now and the end of the school year. They just want their kids to survive the lockdown, both psychologically and emotionally.

On the latest episode of TrumpEd on the BAM! Radio Network, we explore this new student data and how it is OK to just be OK, education wise, these next few months of school.

Give it a listen.

No, We Don’t Know Much About History

We often hear that kids today just don’t understand American history. But it seems adults in the United States don’t fare better. Earlier this month, the Woodrow Wilson Foundation (where dear ol’ Eduflack lays his professional head) released the results of a 41,000-person survey that provided scientifically significant results for those living in all 50 states and the nation’s capital.

Those surveyed were given 20 questions from previous years’ sample question (and answer) banks for the U.S.citizenship test. Passing grade to earn citizenship in the United States is 60 percent. Approximately four in 10 nationwide were able to hit that mark. Only one state (Vermont) had a majority of residents pass the test, with 53 percent of Vermonters winning a passing grade. All in all, the results were pretty dismal.

The intent of this work was, and is, not to suggest that Americans are stupid or that history instruction is some how falling down on the job. On the contrary, in 39 states, American history is a high school requirement. Millions of American students pass that course in order to earn a high school diploma. And they are taught by highly qualified teachers with history content knowledge, not by the “sports coaches” that so many would want to blame for our historical knowledge shortcomings.

With all we know about cognitive science these days, one needs to ask what happens between high school and adulthood that has us forgetting those names, dates, and places needed to pass American history? And if we can’t remember those basic details, how are we supposed to build on it to be informed, engaged participants in our representative democracy?

Surely, we can see far too many in this country fail to see the relevance of the history basics they initially learn. It isn’t interesting. It isn’t personally important. It doesn’t reflect our families or our backgrounds. It isn’t engaging. It is simply memorizing specifics for a specific purpose, soon to be put out of our memory banks.

I’m excited that the Woodrow Wilson Foundation is seeking to change that, to look at how we can make American history more relevant, interesting, and personal. I’m amped up that we are looking to do so by making history learning more experiential, using a wide range of engagements to move beyond the dusty textbook. And I’m thrilled that we are looking at history instruction not about the information needed to pass a bar night trivia contest, but instead one that helps learners, throughout their lifetimes, learn to ask questions, to probe information, to pursue issues, an generally to begin to think like historians.

It is no surprise that the media has taken note of our 50-state survey. It is always interesting to see how states stack up, particularly at a time when history, politics, and civics seem so important. In the coming weeks and months, Eduflack looks forward to continuing this discussion and looking at what is possible when it comes to transforming American history learning. For now, I’ll share just a taste of some of the media coverage on this survey, and this topic, over the past week or so.

The New York Post – https://nypost.com/2019/02/15/americans-dont-know-much-about-nations-history-survey/

Huffington Post – https://www.huffpost.com/entry/american-citizenship-exam_n_5c6add96e4b05c889d221d43

Fox News – https://www.foxnews.com/politics/why-civics-education-matters

Slate – https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2019/02/the-political-gabfest-trumps-national-emergency-bernie-sanders-amazons-hq2-in-new-york.html

Washington (DC) Examiner – https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/washington-secrets/doh-only-1-state-passes-us-citizenship-test-dc-fails-big

Miami (FL) Herald – https://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/national/article226427115.html

Burlington (VT) Free-Press – https://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/story/news/2019/02/15/vermont-named-only-state-u-s-pass-civics-test-exception-after-all/2868373002/

Detroit (MI) Free Press – https://www.freep.com/story/opinion/2019/02/19/michiganders-citizenship-test/2904395002/

Texas Public Radio – http://www.tpr.org/post/could-you-pass-us-citizenship-test-well-63-percent-texans-couldnt

The Tennesseean – https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/education/2019/02/15/people-tennessee-arent-very-good-u-s-history-survey-says/2868329002/

Axios – https://www.axios.com/happy-presidents-day-history-is-hard-8dbed5a2-07f6-43f4-bfab-0836597bfba8.html

 

 

It’s Historic!

Apologies for this site being relatively silent recently. Dear ol’ Eduflack has been hard at work on a major effort focused on the teaching and learning of American history. The full announcement from the Woodrow Wilson Foundation can be found here.

The headline is that, why many of us say history and social studies were our favorite subjects while in school, we don’t seem to be retaining what we’ve learned. In a national survey of 1,000 Americans, conducted by Lincoln Park Strategies, the WW Foundation discovered that only about a third of Americans could pass an American history test based on questions found on the actual U.S. Citizenship Test. A whopping 64 percent of those surveyed could not get a 60 percent on the test, failing to answer at least 12 of the 20 questions correctly.

What is more sad is that we don’t seem to know who the United States fought during World War II, when the U.S. Constitution was written, or even why we broke from Great Britain during the Revolutionary War. Despite our addiction to the musical Hamilton, we believe that Thomas Jefferson was an author of the Federalist Papers. Far too many thought Ike was a U.S. general during the Civil War.

And while it was a Woodrow Wilson Foundation study, most didn’t know what dear ol’ Woodrow was president during World War I.

The story on our collective lack of historical perspective has taken off like wildfire.

The Oregonian has an interesting take here.

The Washington Examiner got the party started here.

The Miami Herald began the drumbeat for McClatchy newspapers here.

The Wall Street Journal took to its editorial pages on the topic. It was joined today by the Las Vegas Review-Journal and the Washington Times this morning.

All of this points to one important fact. We need to do a far better job when it comes to the learning of American history. We need to make history more interesting, more relevant, and more engaging for the learner. Hopefully, we will see such efforts coming in 2019. These survey results show it is clearly needed.

 

“News” Overload Has Left Us Numb

We’ve gone from humble-bragging about our kids and sharing photos of our food to using every waking moment of every day sharing every tweet, every slam, every late night comic diatribe, every propaganda piece, and every doctored photo that seems to support our belief system. And we do so by feeding it into our own echo chambers, sharing with those who already share our beliefs in hopes of strengthening the tribe. No discourse happens. No dialogues are pursued. No debates are engaged. Instead, we are in search of the almighty likes, loves, and supportive comments.

Eduflack’s latest on LinkedIn Pulse, looking at a recent Pew study and how it has affected our political discourse and our social media usage

Monolos Don’t Guarantee Political (or Education) Success

Ravitch and the disciples of Ravitch are quick to condemn Teach For America (TFA). TFA is portrayed as a band of dilettantes, individuals of privilege who are seeking to inject themselves in to the schools for a few years without proper preparation or without having paid their dues. To them, the TFA badge is thrown around as a brand of unpreparedness.

Can’t the same be said of Nixon?

From dear ol’ Eduflack’s latest piece for The Education Post, Cynthia Nixon’s Run for Governor is Looking a Lot More Like ‘Hypocrisy in the City’

Trump’s Higher Ed State of the Union

Yeah, yeah, yeah. We all know that the President of the United States rarely uses the State of the Union to focus on education issues. For every year that George W. Bush sought to ensure No Child Left Behind or Barack Obama looked for a Race to the Top, we’ve heard far more addresses where education is a passing mention at best.

A recent Politico poll found that 46 percent of Americans believe it is “very important” POTUS address education issues in tomorrow night’s address to Congress, while another 29 percent said was somewhat important. And while voters tend not to vote in national elections based on education issues, it is a good sign that Americans seem to want to elevate the rhetoric on topics of the classroom.

Over at BAM! Radio Network, dear ol’ Eduflack explored what a Trumpian address on K-12 education issues could look like. Highlighting the power of education to make America great again and expressing ire over other nations beating the U.S. of A on key international benchmarks, it isn’t a stretch to see how President Donald J. Trump could focus on elementary and secondary education issues.

But what could a focus on higher education look like? As rare as P-12 education is in the State of the Union, postsecondary education discussions are far rarer. By now, we all realize that Trump is hardly a politician of convention. So maybe it isn’t too late to drop this proposed section of “Trump-speak” into the address currently being finalized.

My election in 2016 was a sign that the American people were deeply concerned with their jobs, pocketbooks, and families. Voters rallied around the notion of ‘making America great again,’ recognizing that the strongest way we can make America great is by ensuring all of her people have well-paying jobs, both today and tomorrow.

Recently passes tax cuts are already having a direct impact on American works, as companies like Walmart and Disney and our leading banks are providing bonuses, incentives, and even college tuition assistance to their workers. So many of those businesses that are already rewarding their workers have one key thing in common. As companies, they have made the necessary adjustment to meet the needs of tomorrow. They have reimagined their businesses for the digital, Information Age in which we now all operate. These employees recognize the importance of workers with the knowledge and kills to do both the jobs of today AND of tomorrow. As a result, they will have huge successes under the new tax code.

It is time to bring that vision and that innovation to education, particularly to our colleges and universities. For the past year, Betsy DeVos and her team have been grappling with issues such as growing college tuition and the financial operating structures of individual universities. In communities across the country, colleges are shutting down because they lack the students and the impact they once had. All of this demonstrates a higher education system that is largely broken.

Unlike our businesses, higher education is still largely focused on process, not on outcomes. It rewards based on past achievement, not on future success. It prioritizes the needs and preferences of the provider, not the learner or customer.

That is why tonight I am directing my Education Department to chart a new course for postsecondary education in the United States, a course that takes us to our next destination, not our previous stops. We need to build them schools of tomorrow, preparing the workers of tomorrow with the skills of tomorrow for the jobs of tomorrow.

What does that mean?

First, we need to incentivize, not discourage, innovation in higher education. Just because a program or a school is doing things in a way that has never been done does not mean it should be prevented from doing so. That means empowering regulators and accreditors to encourage new models of thinking and instruction.

Second, we need to better understand the students of today – and tomorrow – while ensuring our institutions of higher learning are meeting their needs. The demographics of college students today are vastly different than those from a generation ago. How we teach those learners must also be different.

That requires a more personalized approach to college education. It is time to throw out the lecture halls and blue books. Instead, we look to advances like artificial intelligence, simulations, and virtual reality to help students learn in the ways that make the most sense to them. And we look for what students know and what they are able to do with that knowledge.

And finally, we need to ensure that classroom instruction meets real-world needs. That requires equipping every young learner today with the STEM skills needed to succeed in the jobs of tomorrow. And that requires forward-thinking classroom teachers able to teach those STEM skills in ways that are both relevant and interesting to today’s kids.

Across this great country, families are seeking a better life for their kids. In the 1950s, hardworking Americans sought the same, determining that sending their kids to college was the best path to that better life. In recent years, we have lost that sense of trust, seeing higher education instead as a playground for dilettantes and those without life direction. No more.

My Administration is committed to restoring American higher education to a position of greatness around the work. That is only done through innovation and an embrace of what is possible. It is done by breaking the restraints of over-regulation. And it is done by recognizing the future direction of higher education belongs not to the learner, not just to the provider. Only then can our colleges and universities become great again.

Imagine some applause lines like that in the 2018 SOTU.