Do you know who your state's governor is? Do you know any rights that are reserved only for U.S. citizens? How about the number of amendments the U.S. Constitution has (or even what an amendment is)?
If you answered yes to any of those questions, you are in the minority of natural-born U.S. citizens, according to a national survey by the Center for the Study of the American Dream. The center asked each respondent 10 out of a possible 99 questions from the actual Citizenship and Immigration Services naturalization test used to determine if an immigrant is capable of being a well-informed U.S. citizen.
So, what does it mean for the state of civic education in the U.S. that 35% of the respondents failed the exam, with 50% scores or under? Worse, if the 60% passing rate we all grew up with in school were applied, only 50% passed.
The least-known question on the exam was "How many amendments does the Constitution have?" Only 7% of respondents knew. Other shocking results include the mere 9% of citizens who knew when the Constitution was written, 29% who knew how long a senator's term is, and the just over one-third of respondents who knew even one of their state's U.S. senators.
On the bright side, every respondent knew the meaning behind the 50 stars on the U.S. flag, and almost everyone knew who our president currently is, who our first president was, what happened on September 11, 2001, and where our nation's capital is. Almost everyone.
Age had a parabolic relationship with performance on the exam, with millennials and elderly achieving the highest failure rates. Education, however, had a significant inverse relationship to failure rates. The more years of schooling you had, the better your passing rate. That isn't entirely absolving the educated, however, as nearly one of five college graduates failed miserably.
The question we have to ask ourselves is, if immigrants taking the exam have a 97.5% pass rate, and natural-born citizens have only a 65% pass rate, what does it mean to be a good American?