"Civic literacy" lags; see how you score on a civics quiz

David Adler, the Cecil D. Andrus professor of public affairs at Boise State University and one of the Statesman's Opinions page regular contributors, writes on Thursday about "civic literacy" — or, more accurately, the lack thereof among Americans these days.

We may know how to operate smart phones, excel at video games, dominate in fantasy football and command huge followings based on our knowledge of celebrity trivia on Twitter, but what do we really know about how our government works? And do we care?

Have the seemingly unending circumstances of congressional gridlock and the cavalier exercise of executive orders so alienated us that we select apathy instead of voting at the polls?

Adler worries that a public that doesn't understand the three branches of government, the rights afforded in our Constitution and the processes for challenging injustice is in trouble.

I couldn't agree more.

Well, obviously, he's not talking about you, right? You know which Amendments make up the Bill of Rights and which federal offices disqualify those born in a different country, right? You know how a bill becomes a law and the difference between U.S. Senators and members of the House of Representatives, right? And you can name the members of the Idaho congressional delegation.


In Adler's piece Thursday there is mention of a civics quizoffered by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute. Though some of the questions are a bit obscure and drift in to economic theory, the majority will give you a sense of your civics IQ. I scored 28 out of 33 — an 85 percent rating, better than the average of 49 percent, but an indication that I am no KNOW-IT-ALL.

We hope you read David's take on the civic literacy deficit Thursday on the Opinions Page and consider his solutions. And we hope you take the quiz and that you let us know how you did, and what you thought of it.