Most College Students Think America Invented Slavery

‘They are convinced that slavery was an American problem.’

Kate Hardiman – University of Notre Dame: For 11 years, Professor Duke Pesta gave quizzes to his students at the beginning of the school year to test their knowledge on basic facts about American history and Western culture.

“Most of my students could not tell me anything meaningful about slavery outside of America. They are convinced that slavery was an American problem that more or less ended with the Civil War, and they are very fuzzy about the history of slavery prior to the Colonial era. Their entire education about slavery was confined to America.”

The most surprising result from his 11-year experiment? Students’ overwhelming belief that slavery began in the United States and was almost exclusively an American phenomenon, he said.

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“They cannot tell you many historical facts or relate anything meaningful about historical biographies, but they are, however, stridently vocal about the corrupt nature of the Republic, about the wickedness of the founding fathers, and about the evils of free markets.”

“Most of my students could not tell me anything meaningful about slavery outside of America,” Pesta told The College Fix. “They are convinced that slavery was an American problem that more or less ended with the Civil War, and they are very fuzzy about the history of slavery prior to the Colonial era. Their entire education about slavery was confined to America.”

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“Most alarmingly, they know nothing about the fraught history of Marxist ideology and communist governments over the last century, but often reductively define socialism as ‘fairness.’”

— Professor Duke Pesta

Pesta, currently an associate professor of English at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, has taught the gamut of Western literature—from the Classics to the modern—at seven different universities, ranging from large research institutions to small liberal arts colleges to branch campuses. He said he has given the quizzes to students at Purdue University, University of Tennessee Martin, Ursinus College, Oklahoma State University, and University of Wisconsin Oshkosh.

[Read the full story here, at The College Fix]

The origin of these quizzes, which Pesta calls “cultural literacy markers,” was his increasing discomfort with gaps in his students’ foundational knowledge.

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“They came to college without the basic rudiments of American history or Western culture and their reading level was pretty low,” Pesta told The Fix.

[MORE: Black studies prof says slavery ‘white people thing’]

Before even distributing the syllabus for his courses, Pesta administered his short quizzes with basic questions about American history, economics and Western culture. For instance, the questions asked students to circle which of three historical figures was a president of the United States, or to name three slave-holding countries over the last 2,000 years, or define “capitalism” and “socialism” in one sentence each.

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[MORE — In defense of Prof. Saida Grundy: There’s a good chance she never learned black people owned slaves]

Often, more students connected Thomas Jefferson to slavery than could identify him as president, according to Pesta. On one quiz, 29 out of 32 students responding knew that Jefferson owned slaves, but only three out of the 32 correctly identified him as president. Interestingly, more students— six of 32—actually believed Ben Franklin had been president. Read the rest of this entry »


Gov. Scott Walker Sworn in for Second Term as Wisconsin’s Governor

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MADISON (WITI/AP) — Gov. Scott Walker is using his inaugural address to tout his record in Wisconsin, and draw a contrast with the federal government, as he considers a run for president.

Walker said in his inaugural speech Monday that the nation’s founders looked to states, not the ht_scott_walker_unintimidated_kb_131113_16x9_992federal government, as the source of hope for the country. He says, “We will not let them down.”

Walker also says that “in contrast to the politicians along the Potomac, we get things done here in the Badger State.”

Walker also says in his speech that he is dedicated to reducing the size of government and building the needed infrastructure to support a thriving economy.

Below are Governor Walker’s complete remarks:

Today, I thank God for His grace; for the privilege of living in such a remarkable country; and for growing up in the greatest state in the nation.  As the son of a small town pastor and a part-time secretary in Delavan, it is quite an honor to serve as your Governor.  Thank you for that cherished opportunity.

I want to thank my family: Tonette—who is my rock and an amazing First Lady; our sons, Matt and Alex—who have done an outstanding job serving as our masters of ceremony here today; my parents, Llew and Pat Walker—who always set a powerful example of how to serve others; my brother, David, sister-in-law, Maria, and their girls, Isabella and Eva; and to all of my other family members—I am grateful for all of your tremendous love and devotion.

Thanks go out to all who are participants in our ceremony today.  I am particularly grateful to the members of the 132nd Army Band and all of the other members of the Wisconsin National Guard—not only for your services today, but for the ongoing support of our many brave men and women who are deployed even as we speak.  Our prayers go out to each and every one of you.

And a special thank you as well to all of our outstanding veterans who served our country so faithfully.  We salute you.

And thank you to all of the people across Wisconsin who have offered your support and prayers to my family.  We are so very grateful. Read the rest of this entry »