Why Do We Need Young Women for America?
What are kids learning in school anyway?
In 2006 and 2007, the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI) surveyed 28,513 college students at 50 American colleges and universities to see how much students knew about American history and civics. The answer? Not much. The average college student could answer just over half of the questions about the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, Federalism, Judicial Review, NATO, and Keynesianism. College freshmen scored an average of only 51.7% on the test in 2006 and 50.4% in 2007. What’s worse, those who were about to graduate from college scored only a few points higher – seniors scored an average of 53.2% in 2006 and 54.2% in 2007. And seniors from some of the most prestigious U.S. schools, including Yale, Princeton, Cornell, Duke, and Berkley, actually scored lower than the average freshman at these schools.1 America’s Founding Fathers, most notably Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, put great stock in education and were among the first to call for universities in the newly-formed United States. America’s experiment of self-government and freedom could not survive, they argued, without an educated and virtuous citizenry. “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be,”2 said Jefferson. In a pamphlet that called for the founding of what is now the University of Pennsylvania, Franklin wrote, “The good Education of Youth has been esteemed by wise Men in all Ages, as the surest Foundation of the Happiness … of Common-wealths.” The youth of America had the same capacity for self-government as the learned men who designed America’s government, “yet the best Capacities require Cultivation,” Franklin argued.3 If American college students aren’t learning about the foundations of self-governance and civic education, what are they learning about American government? A study by Mack D. Mariani and Gordon J. Hewitt4 found that college education does influence a student’s views on political issues. In a study of private college students, the number of students identifying as “Far Left” more than doubles during college, from 1.6% of first-year students to 3.6% of seniors. The number of students identifying as “Liberal” also increases (from 23.3% to 29.1%), while the number of “Moderates” and “Conservatives” drops (47.8% to 42.8%, and 26.0% to 23.6%, respectively). Those on the “Far Right” decrease by 25%, only making up 0.9% of students at graduation. This statistic is not surprising, considering the left-leaning nature of many college environments. A 2005 study of American college professors at 183 universities and colleges found that 72% of professors identified themselves as “Left” or “Liberal” and only 15% identified as “Right” or “Conservative.”5 We can assume that, at worst, these professors teach a liberal-skewed ideology in their classes and, at best, the conservative view is under-represented. General political philosophies aside, it is the specific political views that change during college that concern us the most. ISI’s 2010 report found that a college degree makes a significant impact on a student’s opinion on polarizing social issues. ISI asked college students and non-college students their opinions on 39 political issues and found that, all other variables being the same, the attainment of a college degree made the person more likely to support abortion-on-demand and same-sex “marriage” – the latter by an increase of almost 15%. They were more likely to disagree that public school teachers should be allowed to lead prayers in school, that with hard work and perseverance anyone can succeed in America, and that the Bible is the Word of God.6 College does, however, increase the likelihood that a person will vote or register to vote, as ISI’s 2011 study found. But voting coupled with civic ignorance and the prevalence of liberal influences is also concerning. “Taken together, the phenomena of an epidemic of civic ignorance on the part of college graduates, the liberalizing impact of the college experience, and now a pattern of collegiate civic engagement that emphasizes only voting conjure up images of civically illiterate, impressionable, passive voters marching lockstep to the polls in support of a particular political and ideological viewpoint.”7 Our colleges and universities are failing our students in one of the most basic areas – creating thoughtful, virtuous, informed citizens who are ready and willing to take on the challenge of self-government and preserving America’s constitutional republic. Yet students who are able to gain this knowledge from other areas, either civic knowledge learned in high school or though independent civic study, do become more thoughtful, informed, and active participants in civic society. ISI found that students who already had a strong foundation in American history and civics, or who regularly read the news, discussed political topics, and studied American history and civics on their own, were more likely to hold conservative political views, believe that America’s founding documents are still relevant, and regularly engage in civic activities like trying to influencing how others vote, contacting their legislators, publishing letters to the editor, and participating in rallies or political campaigns.8 We need to train our students to be responsible, active citizens who defend the ideals upon which America was founded. Concerned Women for America has been protecting and promoting American ideals and Judeo-Christian values for over 30 years, and now it is time to pass that torch to the next generation. We started Young Women for America to train the next generation to protect and promote Biblical values among all citizens – first, through prayer, then education, and finally by influencing our society – thereby reversing the decline in moral values in our nation. Young Women for America was created to help stand in the gap left by a dearth of civic education at today’s colleges. We seek to promote conservative values, America’s founding ideals, and Judeo-Christian ethics on today’s campuses. We want to make sure these views are represented on liberal-dominated campuses. More importantly, we want to train students to learn, understand, and defend these values. Students need to not only know American history and values; they need to understand why these values are important and where our society will be without them. We teach students how they can make a difference in their communities, in their states, and in the federal government. We want to show students that not only do they have a voice in public policy today, but that they must stand up and use it if America is going to continue as a great nation. As President Ronald Reagan once said, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it on to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”9 Will you join us in passing freedom on to the next generation?
End Notes1. Intercollegiate Studies Institute. Enlightened Citizenship: How Civic Knowledge Trumps a College Degree in Promoting Active Civic Engagement. 2001, p 4. http://www.americancivicliteracy.org/2011/summary_summary.html.2. Jefferson, Thomas, and John P. Foley. The Jeffersonian Cyclopedia: A Comprehensive Collection of the Views of Thomas Jefferson Classified and Arranged in Alphabetical Order Under Nine Thousand Titles Relating to Government, Politics, Law, Education, Political Economy, Finance, Science, Art, Literature, Religious Freedom, Morals, Etc. New York: Funk & Wagnalls company, 1900. Print § 2391.3. Franklin, Benjamin. Proposals Relating to the Education of Youth in Pensilvania. 1749. Source: University of Pennsylvania Records Center, http://www.archives.upenn.edu/primdocs/1749proposals.html/.4. Mariani, Mack D., and Gordon J. Hewitt. Indoctrination U.? Faculty Ideology and Changes in Student Political Orientation. PS: Political Science & Politics, 41 (2008), pp 773-783.5. Rothman, Stanley, Robert S. Lichter, and Neil Nevitte. “Politics and Professional Advancement Among College Faculty.” The Forum: Vol. 3: Iss. 1 (2005), Article 2.6. Intercollegiate Studies Institute. The Shaping of the American Mind: The Diverging Influences of the College Degree & Civic Learning on American Beliefs. 2010, p 15. http://www.americancivicliteracy.org/2010/summary_summary.html.7. ISI. Enlightened Citizenship. p 14.8. Ibid. p 8.9. Reagan, Ronald. Address to the annual meeting of the Phoenix Chamber of Commerce. March 30, 1961.