Citizenship, patriotism and political engagement are cornerstones of
our republic. Yet not much has been known about the proclivities and
practices of those with substantial responsibility for cultivating these
values and habits—namely, the nation’s social studies teachers. This
new AEI study sought to correct that by asking over 1,000 high school
social studies teachers (from public, private and Catholic schools) what
they are trying to teach their students. Some findings are reassuring.
For example, over 80 percent of high school social studies teachers
think their students should “respect and appreciate their country but
know its shortcomings.” (That’s basically what the general public wants
schools to teach.) But other findings raise red flags. Only 36 percent
of teachers say it is “absolutely essential” to teach students key facts
(like state capitals) and dates (like December 7, 1941). More alarming:
only 24 percent reported being “very confident” that their students
emerged knowing the protections provided by the Bill of Rights.
Gary J. Schmitt, Frederick M. Hess, Steve Farkas, Ann M. Duffett, Cheryl Miller, and Jenna Schuette, “High Schools, Civics, and Citizenship: What Social Studies Teachers Think and Do,” (Washington, D.C.: American Enterprise Institute, September 2010).