Don’t Know Much About History?

Ah, what would Sam Cooke say? Cooke opined in a hit song, Wonderful World, released in 1959 (and made popular with another generation — imo — in the flick Animal House in the late ’70s):

Don’t know much about history
Don’t know much biology
Don’t know much about a science book
Don’t know much about the french I took

But I do know that I love you
And I know that if you love me too
What a wonderful world this would be

Wow. They don’t record songs like than anymore.

But Sam’s point remains valid. Doesn’t appear that many high school students in the U.S. know much about history these days.

The NYT reports: “U.S. Students Remain Poor at History, Tests Show“:

American students are less proficient in their nation’s history than in any other subject, according to results of a nationwide test released on Tuesday, with most fourth graders unable to say why Abraham Lincoln was an important figure and few high school seniors able to identify China as the North Korean ally that fought American troops during the Korean War.

Over all, 20 percent of fourth graders, 17 percent of eighth graders and 12 percent of high school seniors demonstrated proficiency on the exam, the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Federal officials said they were encouraged by a slight increase in eighth-grade scores since the last history test, in 2006. But even those gains offered little to celebrate because, for example, fewer than a third of eighth graders could answer even a “seemingly easy question” asking them to identify an important advantage American forces had over the British during the Revolution, the government’s statement on the results said.

Diane Ravitch, an education historian who was invited by the national assessment’s governing board to review the results, said she was particularly disturbed by the fact that only 2 percent of 12th graders correctly answered a question concerning Brown v. Board of Education, which she called “very likely the most important decision” of the United States Supreme Court in the past seven decades.

Students were given an excerpt including the passage, “We conclude that in the field of public education, separate but equal has no place, separate educational facilities are inherently unequal,” and were asked what social problem the 1954 ruling was supposed to correct.

“The answer was right in front of them,” Ms. Ravitch said. “This is alarming.”

Oh, well. Today’s miscreants — tomorrow’s voters. Sigh.

By the way, say what you want, at least Sarah Palin knew Paul Revere made his way through Boston on horseback.

OK. In case you are bored at work and want to take a short break from Facebook and Twitter, here’s Sam Cooke.

 

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