The Education Action Network

Taking Back America By Taking Back Our Schools

New Report: Only 18% of Colleges Require US History, 3% Economics

17 October 2014 The Report Card

images  By Bill Korach


A majority of U.S. college graduates don’t know the length of a congressional term, what the Emancipation Proclamation was, or which Revolutionary War general led the American troops at Yorktown.

The reason for such failures, according to a recent study: Few schools mandate courses in core subjects like U.S. government, history or economics. The sixth annual analysis of core curricula at 1,098 four-year colleges and universities by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) found that just 18% of schools require American history to graduate, 13% require a foreign language and 3% economics.


ACTA this week released the 2014-2015 edition of What Will They Learn?, which peels away reputation to assess what value students are actually getting from college.


Too many college rating systems rely on largely extraneous measures like alumni giving or selectivity to determine which colleges top their list,” said Anne D. Neal, ACTA president. “What Will They Learn? looks at the most important data—the strength of a college’s education—to find out which institutions are delivering the tools students will need to succeed in career and community.”


Only 23 institutions receive an “A” grade for requiring at least six of seven subjects that are essential to a liberal arts education: literature, composition, economics, math, intermediate level foreign language, science, and American government/history. According to the study, most students graduate from college without exposure to such fundamental courses as American history, basic economics or literature. In too many places, graduates aren’t expected to have any more knowledge of these pivotal courses than a high school student.


One wonders what tuition and tax dollars are going toward when most colleges—even public ones—don’t require basic economics, foreign language, American history or even literature,” said Dr. Michael Poliakoff, director of the What Will They Learn? project. “Are we really preparing our nation’s next generation of leaders when our colleges are failing to ensure the most basic skills and knowledge?

Public Institutions:

  • 28% require American history
  • 8% require foreign language
  • 3% require economics

Private Institutions:

  • 10% require American history
  • 17% require foreign language

4% require economics


As a result, less than half of students surveyed knew Franklin Roosevelt spearheaded the New Deal, and only 40% knew the date of D-Day. Since only 3% require economics, many students graduate with little comprehension of the free markets and the benefits of capitalism. In fact, opposition to capitalism is often a focus of many courses at colleges today.


“It’s much easier for campus administrators to let faculty make decisions rather than to decide with them what are really important and what really matters,” said Mr. Poliakoff. “It’s like saying to a lot of 18-year-olds the cafeteria is open, you kids just eat whatever you like.”

Views: 17


You need to be a member of The Education Action Network to add comments!

Join The Education Action Network

© 2021   Created by Harry Mathews.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service