Ready for a one-question civics pop quiz? How many amendments are there to the United States Constitution? If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed by the question, you’re not alone. The average American student is pretty ignorant when it comes to civics. Data released this month from the National Assessment of Educational Progress showed three-quarters of seniors can’t name a power granted to Congress by the Constitution.
But 16-year-old Cherry Hill, New Jersey high school student Amy Myers is bucking the trend. She recently challenged controversial Minnesota congresswoman Michele Bachmann to a civics debate. Myers posted an open letter to Bachmann, writing, “I have found quite a few of your statements regarding The Constitution of the United States, the quality of public school education and general U.S. civics matters to be factually incorrect, inaccurately applied or grossly distorted.” Myers then went on to issue the challenge to a debate “and/or Fact Test on The Constitution of the United States, United States History and United States Civics.”
Myers, who’s running for class president, seems like she might just be a true civics nerd. She admits that All The President’s Men is one of her favorite movies. But her current history teacher is also clearly getting the job done. For Myers, the last straw was hearing Bachmann claim that the Revolutionary War battles of Lexington and Concord happened in New Hampshire instead of their actual location, Massachusetts. “When she said that, we were just learning about that moment in my AP History class,” she told City Pages, adding that Bachmann is “just wrong. They’re totally different regions.”
Myers might even be on the forefront of a civics resurgence. Rock The Vote has plans to visit schools in all 50 states this year with its Democracy Class initiative and they’re engaging celebrities in the effort. Asher Roth and Shawn Merriman both guest-taught civics classes last week at high schools in Los Angeles. The organization also created free downloadable lesson plans that teachers can use to teach civics.
But are politicians ready for a better informed public? Bachmann hasn’t responded to Myers’ request for a debate so far.