David Davenport is a research fellow emeritus at the Hoover Institution. In addition to his work as a research fellow, David has been Counselor to the Director and Director of Washington, DC programs at Hoover. Previously, David served as president of Pepperdine University, where he was also a professor of public policy and law. David is the coauthor of five books, including four with Professor Gordon Lloyd about modern liberalism and conservatism as seen through the lens of the Franklin Roosevelt and Herbert Hoover debates of the 1930s. He has been a regular newspaper columnist and radio commentator and has devoted the last several years to work on civic education.

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    A Republic if we Can Teach i

    America faces a crisis in civic education that imperils the long-term health of our country. Too many Americans—especially young people—do not have the knowledge of our history and principles necessary to sustain our republic.

    Recent national test results reveal the sad state of civic education in our schools. The 2022 report of the National Assessment of Educational Progress showed that only 22 percent of eighth graders tested were “proficient” or better in their knowledge of civics, and proficiency in US history dropped to an anemic 13 percent. The Annenberg Policy Center reported in 2019 that only 39 percent of Americans could name the three branches of government, while its 2017 study showed that 37 percent could not name a single right in the First Amendment. How can we “keep” a republic, as Benjamin Franklin put it, if we don’t know what a republic is?

    At a deeper level, the crisis is not simply about facts and information. If the next generations of Americans do not come to understand that our history and principles are good and that they merit their affection, our experiment in self-government could fail. Action is needed now to reverse the trend.

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