A new report has found that high school students in this country are falling dangerously behind in social studies, and their understanding of civics and government is nearing an all-time low. Mike Papantonio & Farron Cousins discuss more.


*This transcript was generated by a third-party transcription software company, so please excuse any typos.

Mike Papantonio: A new report’s found that high school students in this country are falling dangerously behind in social studies and their understanding of basic civics. How does government work? What’s a senator? What’s a House of Representative? What’s the Secretary of State? They know nothing. The numbers are staggering. I mean, it’s, what is it 19%? Was it 19 to 22% have, oh, excuse me, I take it back. 13% are proficient in history. 13%. Now what is, pick it up. Maybe I’m, you know, your wife’s a teacher.

Farron Cousins: So everybody knows, 13% are proficient. That means only 13% of our students across the country are good at this. They understand it. So we’re talking about close to 87% that are either not great at it or downright don’t know it. And the test scores, this is the first time in years and years, we have seen these numbers decline in the way that they have.

Mike Papantonio: Farron, they test every four years.

Farron Cousins: They do. And so when they tested four years ago, this group was already pretty bad. And then they test ’em four years later. Okay. You’ve gathered more knowledge. And then they say, well, nope. I guess you didn’t gather more knowledge. And look, I trace a lot of this back to the policies that happened under George W. Bush that everybody forgets about, No Child Left Behind.

Mike Papantonio: Yes.

Farron Cousins: Well, what was No Child Left Behind? Teach to the test. Make it to where they have to pass the test and that’s all that matters.

Mike Papantonio: But even that’s a disaster because the numbers are even worse with math and reading.

Farron Cousins: They are.

Mike Papantonio: I mean, at what point do you say, well, this is okay? No, it’s not okay. It’s why we have a generation already just right below us that says censorship is a great idea. Let’s censor anything we don’t agree with because they don’t understand civics. They don’t understand the First Amendment. They say, if we disagree with something, it’s fine to censor it because they don’t get the connection. So what is this generation gonna do? I mean, they’re coming up. I mean, how bad is it gonna be there?

Farron Cousins: It’s, I mean, look, it’s bad. It is worse than what we thought. And this is something honestly, you and I have talked about at length for many, many years about how they’re losing their grasp on the basics of the economy, of the government, of history itself. And it is going to get worse because right now what’s happening? We’ve got state governments censoring the textbooks. They’re erasing parts of history, making it illegal to teach it.

Mike Papantonio: Yes. Well, not only that, they’re taking best sellers off of the shelves because they disagree with the words that were used. You can’t get Tom Sawyer in a class because the words that were used.

Farron Cousins: You can’t show a picture of Michelangelo’s David to a class because now it’s pornography.

Mike Papantonio: Yeah. Well, we have a whole generation that’s buying into it, man. I mean, I’m telling you. Censorship, yeah, it’s fine. Comedy, yeah, we can censor comedy. If we don’t like what that comic says, hell, take him off the stage. If we don’t like what the speaker says and he comes to our college campus, close it down. Make it so impossible for him to speak that he can’t speak. You see the danger with that? Right. But what if a kid doesn’t even understand civics, basic First Amendment issues, then it really gets complicated.

Farron Cousins: Well, and part of the problem too is that they’re watching as their parents are calling for the censorship of the textbooks, of the books and the libraries. So this is what they’re gonna know, which means it’s what they’re gonna repeat when they become parents themselves.

Mike Papantonio: I literally saw, To Kill a Mockingbird, needs to be censored. Okay. To Kill a Mockingbird, we’re gonna censor To Kill a Mockingbird because we’ve got these snowflake types that are trying to, they’re mind police. It’s 1984 all over again, brother. And that’s what’s happening. We are really experiencing it right now. Right now.

Farron Cousins: Maybe we do deserve the radioactive activity into the roads. Just let’s go full Idiocracy at this point.

Mike Papantonio: Yeah. It is Idiocracy.

Mike Papantonio is an American attorney and television and radio talk show host. He is past president of The National Trial Lawyers, the most prestigious trial lawyer association in America; and is one of the few living attorneys inducted into the Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame. He hosts the international television show "America's Lawyer"; and co-hosts Ring of Fire Radio, a nationally syndicated weekly radio program, with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Sam Seder.