Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Basics

I just listened to this rather scary Yahoo interview with college students about some pretty basic US Government facts (forwarded to me from my husband who saw it on Twitter). Here are the questions they were asked:

Who is the Vice President?
Who is the Speaker of the House?
Who is the Majority Leader of the Senate?
How many Supreme Court justices are there currently?
Who is the Chief Justice?
How many Representatives are there in Congress?
How many Senators are there?

The kids being interviewed all looked like they came from fairly affluent families. They cheerfully laughed as they either guessed incorrectly or didn’t know enough to even guess. A few got some answers correct. It’s pretty frightening to think these are the people who may well be deciding upcoming elections. I wonder how many of them will even vote.

Here are the answers so you can check to make sure you got them all right:
Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, 9, John Roberts, 435, 100

If you didn’t, be assured you are undoubtedly in the majority!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I couldn't remember how many Congresspersons there currently are, and needed my second cup of morning tea to come up with Reid and Roberts. I'm woefully behind on reading up on my local ballot measures. There's more than one way to be a good citizen, but I'd like to be more informed...


10:59 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Anon -- But you definitely knew who the VP was!

I confess to punting on Roberts.

The one factoid that everyone who ever took 9th grade civics should know is that there are 100 senators. The others are always in evolution.

None of these is necessary to being a good citizen, but it was just surprising to watch that video and see just how far off some of those kids were -- 9 Senators, for example!

11:07 AM  
Blogger Gary said...

No comment

7:14 PM  
Blogger Ruth D~ said...

I knew the answers now, but as a college student, I wouldn't have. Thankfully there's a whole lot of learning that goes on after school.

BTW, Barbara,my husband and I were just down in
Alexandria. What a beautiful city!

7:20 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Gary -- What does that mean? :) I think you should make sure your kids graduate from kindergarten knowing who the President and VP are!

Ruth -- You're probably right. I think I would have known the VP and the 100 Senators in college though. I was not a PoliSci major, but even in the Math Department we knew more than just how to solve differential equations.

10:14 PM  
Blogger karen said...

Well, I'm not a citizen of the USA, which is maybe a tiny excuse, but I only got the first two right! Oh dear..

6:09 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

I was reminded by my husband that the numbers of Congressional Representatives and Supreme Court Justices have not changed in a very long time, contrary to what I thought. Here's some confirmation from Google:

Why do we have 100 Senators and 435 Members of the House? Could these numbers be changed?
The number of Senators is set by the U.S. Constitution — two per state — and cannot be changed without amending the Constitution. Amending the Constitution is a long and difficult process. It requires a 2/3 vote in both the House and Senate, followed by ratification (approval) by 3/4 of all the states. The Senate reached 100 members when Hawaii was admitted as a state in 1959. The number of House Members is set by public law and could be altered were Congress to pass a new public law changing the size of the House. The House of Representatives has had 435 Members since 1911. When Congress was created in 1789, there were 65 House Members and 26 Senators. In the First Congress, a Member of the House represented 30,000 citizens. Today, a Congressman/woman represents an average of 650,000 citizens.

Question: How many Supreme Court Justices Are There?
Answer: Currently, there are nine Supreme Court justices on the United States Supreme Court. The number of justices is set by Congress and has varied from five to 10. There have been nine justices since 1869. In 1937, Franklin Roosevelt attempted to add six more justices to the Supreme Court. He felt the court was obstructing much of his New Deal policies and adding more members who would agree with his views would help. This was termed the "Court Packing Plan." However, Congress did not agree and the number remained at nine.

10:05 AM  
Blogger Merle Sneed said...

For the 75% of kids who don't study the sciences, mathematics, law or medicine, it is sort of squishy, feel-good experience.

Failure to know these basic things begins with grade school and never seems to improve.

6:57 PM  
Blogger lettuce said...

yeah, I've read similar polls and evidence from the UK - scary

6:00 AM  

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