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Public High School Students Answer History Questions. Can It Be This Bad?

Written by Gary North on February 9, 2012

Maybe you have seen Jay Leno’s segments, “Jaywalking.” He asks questions of people in the street. Here, a high school student asks his peers some questions.

As with “Jaywalking,” the editors cherry-picked the choice ones. But these were not faked.

This raises some questions.

How much responsibility for these poor results falls on the shoulders of the educators who have repeatedly exposed students to this factual material every year since the first grade?

How much responsibility for these poor results should be placed squarely upon the individual students and their parents’ unwillingness to take their child’s education seriously due to its compulsory, tax-funded nature rather than as an ultimate responsibility of the parents?

So where do we begin to look for serious answers to these questions?

Here are the incomparable trio of books on the history of tax supported, compulsory government schooling with which every informed and educated person should be familiar:

Murray N. Rothbard, Education: Free and Compulsory

Samuel L. Blumenfeld, Is Public Education Necessary?

John Taylor Gatto, The Underground History of American Education: A School Teacher’s Intimate Investigation Into The Problem of Modern Schools

For the record, the author John Taylor Gatto is a retired American school teacher with nearly 30 years’ experience in the classroom, and has written several best-selling books on education. He was named New York City Teacher of the Year in 1989, 1990, and 1991, and New York State Teacher of the Year in 1991.


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50 thoughts on “Public High School Students Answer History Questions. Can It Be This Bad?

  1. wereinitdeep says:

    Thank You, Liberial Teachers Union. You do such a fine job. I wander if the teachers know the answers to these questions.

  2. Out of concern I asked my 16 year old daughter all these questions, and she was able to answer them with ease, thank God! BUT, I have to add an addendum, I homeschooled her for 3 years, and she got a LOT of REAL history, not that re-written crap they sell in schools these days!

  3. Every time I see a segment like this one I am amazed. We pay HUGE property tax dollars and we are NOT getting a quality product from most of our tax funded government schools. These kids are our future leaders; be very afraid !

  4. Sapphira Sez says:

    Thank you for the best promotion I have ever seen for home schooling our children!!!

  5. These would be products of our extremely overpaid union teachers, as guided by our worthless Department of Education. Absolutely pathetic! Parents, don't let you kids to grow up idiots! If the teachers can't (or won't) teach history, Civics and Political Science, then it's up to YOU to do that. The schools sure won't! They're too busy teaching all about "Climate Change" and "Gay Tolerance." 100% waste of time and money!

  6. snakearbusto says:

    Wait a minute! These results are due to compulsory education, and parents' not taking it seriously "due to its compulsory, tax-funded nature"? So what's the answer? No compulsory education? Private education only the well-off can afford? Education funded entirely by corporations? I live in France, where the education is compulsory and funded by the taxpayer and dispensed by teachers who are strongly organized into unions, and my kids can answer most of those questions. They are also learning to question what they see on TV, in the press, and on the Web. Do the teachers go on strike? Yes. Is that a pain in the ass for us? Yes. So what? They're dedicated, well-educated teachers, and that's what counts.
    So you want to get government out of education? Fine. Let's get it out of, say, road-building too. Then try to drive across a state line. And of course we have to get government out of the business of national defense, too. Right?

  7. These kids are a whole lot closer than our president and his 57 states! We must give them trophies for their achievements and give tenure and bonuses to their teachers for such a fine job!

  8. it would be telling if he could get one of these with teachers answering the questions instead.


  10. Tiredofthelibs says:

    Yes snakearbusto, Lincoln came from such a wealthy family. So did Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine, Benjamin Rush, John Adams.
    You live in France? Your voice has no volume here. The EU is such a sterling example of …. oh, wait, failure.
    The United States of America was, and will be again (once we do away with the liberal idiots who have brought her down), the greatest nation on earth.

  11. Tiredofthelibs says:

    Agreed DoctorBob.
    I am making sure that my sons undertstand the responsibility they have to ensure future generations also know our history and what made us the greatest nation on earth.

  12. I would think not many could answer these questions, otherwise, these kids would have been taught civics and history correctly.

  13. snakearbusto says:

    The Founding Fathers were all major landowners and/or wealthy and/or slave holders (Lincoln, by the way, is not one of the Founding Fathers). They built safeguards against insurrection into constitution, not dictatorship.

    So the US is the example for public education, health care, and promotion of democracy around the world? No? Well, but it's all Obomber's fault, right? From 1981 to 2008 the Republicans were in power most of the time (and Clinton was basically a Republican too – NAFTA, etc.) But the "Liberals" have brought America down. Sure. Keep drinking the Kool-Aid.

    By the way, you misuse the term "Liberal". Liberalism and neo-liberalism mean (to put it in a few words) that government exists only to serve business – free-marketism. That's about what you have now. And you're right about Obomber – he's Liberal for sure – all for business and privatization of everything. There's not a millimeter – excuse me, a 16th of an inch – of difference between him and all the vermin politicians that have preceded him.

  14. You know what else was sad about these kids? Some of them were laughing, I guess at their own ignorance or stupidity……

  15. The NEA is responsible in large part for the "dumbing down" of America. This is what happens when union thugs get control. I have a friend that tutors young people who are trying to pass the entrance exam to go into the military. All of these young people have high school diplomas and the entrance test is written on a 6th grade level. Pathetic.

  16. Kevlar Linc says:

    The cultural disease of political correctness began in the school systems – and for it to die, the schools are where it must die, first. Teacher hiring and firing policies must become merit-based, so must student achievement. Student testing must once again sort out the achievers from those which are less capable or outright incapable – and deal with the results realistically. Our education systems are the foundation of a free republic and we are already witnessing what can happen when the foundation crumbles and rots.

  17. 2WarAbnVet says:

    The NEA began its ascendancy in controlling the American education system in 1966. Curiously enough, the decline of the quality of education began the same year.

  18. In the first place, wereinitdeep doesn't know the difference between wonder and wander… I WONDER how that happened?

    In the second place, snakearbusto has no voice because he/she is not in the US and therefore has no standing to to give an opinion about this. It's a US problem, so butt out!

    The problem we have is that we are a multicultural and diverse population whose teachers are commanded to teach to the lowest common denominator. They are unable to form lesson plans that stimulate or motivate their students BECAUSE of the union and GOVERNMENTAL intervention. As a result, when pitted against other, less diverse, populations in the world the US students presents themselves poorly.

    A recent (within the last couple of years) study, however, found that when the diverse US populations are pitted against competing populations of similar ethnic and social backgrounds, the US students win handily in all cases except with Asian populations.

    I have mixed emotions about home schooling because most of the home schoolers I know are that way either because 1) their parents are afraid they will be corrupted by the sinful, evil humanistic school systems or 2) the kids have a discipline problem and the parents don't want to deal with it so they just plug the kids along.

    My son was tagged as ADHD by his teachers because, and get this, he would finish his work too quickly and go to helping other kids. Yep, you read that right. He was too quick and liked to help others. So, as a consequence of his failure to adapt to mediocrity he was deemed handicapped. We would have nothing to do with it and now he excels in his chosen profession BECAUSE he has a high IQ that wasn't screwed up by meds. Can't say the same for many of his peers.

    My personal preference is that schools are run as competively as business. If a school fails the non-producing teachers get the boot and new ones replace them. Yep, I'm all for school vouchers because they REQUIRE a higher degree of accountability.

    Unfortunately, the exact opposite occurs when Unions get involved. Bad teachers can't be fired due to Union rules, so they hang around, being paid to do nothing, instead of having to go out and get a job at McDonalds, where they can mix with all of the students they have damaged over the years. HOGWASH. If you can't cut it in the real world, you should get the ax and either improve your skills or get a different vocation.

    Compulsory education is important and leads to better standards of living for all concerned. TEACHERS should be held accountable and UNIONS should all go to… well, you get the point.

    I think an even better segment might be to ask TEACHERS some of these questions. See how they do.

  19. John Hicks says:

    If I were the parent of one of these kids I would be do proud. NOT! I blame this on our lame unionized education system and parents that do not care.

  20. John Hicks says:

    oops typo…remove the do

  21. God help us. We are entering into a new Dark Age when it comes to knowledge. If I had children between ages 6 and 18 right now, I'd be homeschooling them. However, I think I'm fairly lucky, as I have none, and am old enough to know that the years in which Western Civilization reached its peak as far as moral values, quality of life, freedom of expression, arts, literature and music, are now gone and we are slipping backwards into ignorance.

  22. I know! I know! Let's just dump billions more in the Dept of Edu. God bless them what a great job they are doing. I want to puke.

  23. These high school kids make Rick Perry look pretty smart, when he couldn't think of the third department he would eliminate if he were to become President, during one of the previous Republican debates. The liberal, social, unionized, democratic teaching agenda has so indoctrinated these students away from the 3-R's that it has set in place a dumbing down of America. I feel very sad and frustrated with the education, or lack of education that these students are receiving. If we the American public do not wake up, and change the direction we are headed, our country will be changed, and not for the better. The Progressive movement is not the change we need to lift us up. The Progressive movement will be responsible for the change that will be the downfall of the once great United States of America.

  24. Jack D Bear TX says:

    Incredible. Even Obama knows there are 57 states; there may be when he gets through if you add Puerto Rico and others ready to line up for free stuff and who cares about education?

  25. Good points Mary, and the saddest part is we may be too far gone to turn it around.

  26. barbpatton says:

    It is to be hoped that this will indeed be the case. However, both you and I know that the parents of those stupid children will voted for ayatollah obama. Having taught in Texas schools as well as overseas, I can categorically state that American Children are stupid ignorant ans more interested in sex, drugs and tv than knowing the most basic of history of this country. Teachers should be ashamed of themselves to think that they dont even teach history in the classroom, yet are eager beavers when it comes to sex, homosexuality and gay marriages. Disgusting

  27. barbpatton says:


  28. Are these people faking it for the camera? These retards seem to think it is funny . . .

  29. barbpatton says:

    OMG – your tongue in cheek remark hits me to the very marrow

  30. Jhan Davis says:

    My father, a public school teacher for all of his adult life put it this way: "Homeschooling is education. Public schooling is alternative education."

  31. Eloi.
    Read John Taylor Gatto's book to understand that it wasn't just the liberals responsible for this embarrassment. They don't even have the sense to be embarrassed.

  32. There is nothing democratic in the Democrat party. Please use the proper name.

  33. The truly frightening aspect of this is that all of these "students of American history" will be allowed to vote when they're eighteen years old. This does not bode well for the future of this nation. They, their parents, and their teachers should be mightily ashamed at wasting so much time, effort, and expense to accomplish so little.

  34. After seeing this, I only have one question. Just what the hell are they teaching in school now? These people looked to be high schoolers, but couldn't answer simple 7 – 8 grade questions.


  36. You want to believe that don't you? Of course it's funny they are embarressed but it's not the end of the world to them.
    I don't blame them but I do blame entirely the elementary school education they have received. They were taught about recycling and and saving the planet that they don't have a clue as to where it even is. They don't deserve this!

  37. billstanley1 says:

    1134 Arizona public high school students were asked 10 questions. Only 3.5% knew 6 of the 10 answers. None knew more than 7 answers. Results of 5 questions: 58.8% knew what ocean is on the east coast. 49.6% knew the names of the two major political parties. 26.5% knew the first president. 14.5% knew the term of U.S. Senators. 9.4% knew the number of U.S. Supreme Court justices. http://www.newsandopinions.net

  38. Robert Lebischak says:

    It's simple really, when someone controls the education process they control the minds of the children. Now the Left controls education, what more can you expect?

  39. Gringo Infidel says:

    Sickening. Thank you government schools.

  40. They really do not deserve Citizenship in this nation.
    I don't care if they were caught "off-guard" or "out of the classroom" …… THEY ARE STUPID.

  41. This is absolutely pathetic.

  42. Lois MacLaren says:

    When I grew up, voting age was 21 years of age. The debate at that time was that IF the voting age was lowered to 18, as had been proposed at that time, the average 18 year old kid was too easily swayed by shallow arguments to be able to make an intelligent, informed choice. The other argument was that if young people were old enough to be drafted at 18, they should also be considered to be old enough to make an intelligent, informed choice when voting. Since the draft has been abolished, it is perhaps time to change the voting age back to 21 years of age.

  43. For your information Lincoln came from a very poor family and was self educated. Benjamin Franklin was not from a wealthy family either and was a self made in his money from years of hard work and many inventions. Please study your history before you make comments about which you are incorrect.

  44. Compulsory education enabled the largest economic expansion in our nations history.

    And Lew Rockwell is a dummy.

  45. I once taught communications to young Navy students – all high school graduates. I was so stunned by the level of ignorance they showed that I quit that job. It was disgusting to me, and I felt like I was wasting my time. One of my students had orders to Japan after school. She had no idea where it was. She acted as though she had never heard of it. When I took her into my office and asked her to show me where Japan was located on my world map, she could not find it. She spent most of her time looking around on the wrong side of the planet. It was astonishing to me. This young girl was typical of most of my students. This ignorance will without doubt lead to the eventual collapse of our great nation.

  46. Frank Norton says:

    When there is no culture, no comon language, no sentivety for accepting personal responsibility, and an expectation for government welfare for life, your country is lost. Over. Perhaps the only recourse is is to graduate or go to jail at hard labor, or leave the U.S. Since many of their parents cannot speak the English, send them back also. Chalk it up to diversity!

  47. mr bad example says:

    what? there isn't 57 states (or more?!?!?) the smartest man on the planet said he's been to 57 states, and there was 2 he didn't campaign in yet!

  48. Too busy teaching the kids sex ed, and political correctness to get around to the basics.