According to a new study, "Still at Risk: What Students Don't Know, Even Now," today's high school students lack basic historical and literary facts and references. The research was compiled by Common Core, a non-partisan research group dedicated to "strengthening liberal learning in K-12 education."
Overall, the 1,200 high school students surveyed earned a "D." Among the findings:
- Nearly a quarter cannot identify Adolf Hitler, with ten percent thinking Hitler was a munitions manufacturer.
- More than a quarter think Christopher Columbus sailed after 1750.
- Fewer than half can place the Civil War in the correct half-century.
- A third do not know that the Bill of Rights guarantees the freedom of speech and religion.
- Half have no idea what the Renaissance was.
- Nearly half think that The Scarlet Letter was either about a witch trial or a piece of correspondence.
(Take that, Bluto.)
On the serious: Is a study like this fair -- to students, to the K-12 system, to teachers? Or should we expect all students to have a common familiarity with this knowledge?