If this new survey of high school students is even half accurate, it is scary. The researchers asked the kids about their knowledge and opinion of the rights granted them under the First Amendment. In addition to not understanding the basic facts of their rights as citizens, many also didn’t understand the context of their freedoms.
The results reflected indifference, with almost three in four students saying they took the First Amendment for granted or didn’t know how they felt about it. It was also clear that many students do not understand what is protected by the bedrock of the Bill of Rights.
Yet, when told of the exact text of the First Amendment, more than one in three high school students said it goes "too far" in the rights it guarantees. Only half of the students said newspapers should be allowed to publish freely without government approval of stories.
It’s always good to be suspicious of the people behind any survey, poll or report. In this case the group, Journalism Education Association, wants schools to promote media classes such as newspapers and video production. But if this is an accurate reflection of student understanding of their basic rights under the constitution, maybe it’s time to do a better job with American history and government.