American Elephants


The News from America’s Campuses Is Even Worse Than You Thought! by The Elephant's Child

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Anybody that has been paying even minimal attention has noticed that all is not well on our college campuses. Safe spaces and hate speech and censoring speakers; renaming streets and buildings that were named long ago for a person who at some time did not have the ideas celebrated by today’s students. Black Lives Matter, and requests for more segregated buildings, more black studies courses, and more diversity intensive courses. Increasing racist hoaxes, and demands for particular administrators to be fired. Protection from offensive speech, or micro-aggressions, or cultural appropriation or racial insensitivity.

More disturbing yet is a report from Dr. Duke Plesta, an assistant professor of English at the University of Wisconsin in Oshkosh, on the “left’s choke hold on higher education—and its consequences.”

I started giving quizzes to my juniors and seniors. I gave them a ten-question American history test… just to see where they are. The vast majority of my students – I’m talking nine out of ten, in every single class, for seven consecutive years – they have no idea that slavery existed anywhere in the world before the United States. Moses, Pharaoh, they know none of it. They’re 100% convinced that slavery is a uniquely American invention… How do you give an adequate view of history and culture to kids when that’s what they think of their own country – that America invented slavery? That’s all they know.

A new report from the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) reveals that “the overwhelming majority of America’s  most prestigious institutions do not require even the students who major in history to take a single course on United States history or government. Disregard for the importance of United States history in the undergraduate history major is matched by the overall disappearance of United States history requirements from general education, the core curriculum that should be part of every student’s education. ACTA’s annual “What will They Learn?” survey shows that only 18% of the over 1.100 four-year colleges and universities in the study, public and private, require a foundational course in United States history or United States history or United States government.”

  • Less than half could identify George Washington as the American general at Yorktown.
  • Only 42% placed the Battle of the Bulge in the history of World War II.
  • One-third of college graduates were unaware that FDR introduced the New Deal.
  • Nearly half did not know that Teddy Roosevelt played a major role in constructing the Panama Canal.
  • Less than 20% could accurately identify—in a multiple-choice survey—the effect of the Emancipation Proclamation.
  • Over one-third of the college graduates surveyed could not place the American Civil War in its correct 20-year time frame.
  • Nearly half of the college graduates could not identify correctly the term lengths of U.S. senators and representatives. Reputation and high tuition are no guarantee that students will know the history of their nation.

We expect a certain amount of pure stupidity from college students. That is, after all, why they are there, but that only 18% of four year colleges and universities “require a foundational course in U.S. History or government” is alarming. Parents and alumni should let their schools know that to be unacceptable. They should also demand that the chairman of the history department explain the department’s requirements and rationale for those requirements.

ACTA delved into the requirements and course offerings in the history departments of 76 of the country’s top colleges and universities to see just how American history fit into their programs. Only 23 of the top undergraduate programs require a single course in U.S. history. Pathetic. That’s why we require new citizens to learn something about our history.

I particularly love John Steele Gordon’s An Empire of Wealth: The Epic history of American Economic Power, which brings in the inventions and developments that changed not only this country but changed the world. We’ve had adversity and wars, and a nation of diverse ambitious people from all over, striving to make better lives and a better country along the way. Economic developments have consequences and Mr. Gordon’s history provides the answer to why things happened the way they did. It’s a fascinating book.

If the colleges are mistreating your kids, after all the tuition they demand, be prepared to drill some history into them when they get home. The Left may want a generation of malleable nitwits, but our country can’t afford it.

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