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Are you smarter than an American teenager?

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Q: Who was Adolf Hitler?

  • A German kaiser
  • A munitions maker
  • The chancellor of Germany during WWII
  • An Austrian premier

If you answered "C," congratulations! You are now as smart as one quarter of 17-year-olds in the United States.

A new survey released by the non-profit group Common Core found that teenagers in the United States live in "stunning ignorance" about history and literature. That's something we could have told you awhile ago. In "Lost in America," a feature story in the May/June 2006 issue of FP, Douglas McGray wrote:

[S]urrounded by foreign languages, cultures, and goods, [young Americans] remain hopelessly uninformed, and misinformed, about the world beyond U.S. borders."

In his piece, he writes that we hear all the time about how America's youth lags behind in science and math tests. But they lag equally, if not more, in the liberal arts and social sciences. And it's just as dangerous. As the world becomes more and more globalized, it's crucial that our citizens today and tomorrow have a deeper understanding of history and culture.

Thankfully, Common Core has taken on this cause. The organization is composed of both Democrats and Republicans, who may not agree with each other about education reform policy. But they do agree on one thing: America's schools need to teach more about the liberal arts. Right on.

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