Debra J. Saunders

Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics, has seen that attitude. The solons of academia don't want professors to be too tough, he noted, "they want students to be entertained and happy."

Sabato was not happy to learn that the University of Virginia, founded by Thomas Jefferson to educate leaders of a new democracy, is a member of the Negative Learning Club. Sabato told me, "Thomas Jefferson's university should have been at the very top in terms of civic knowledge."

Indeed, if there is any good news for parents, it's that expensive schools did not fare better than cheaper state schools. "There is no relationship between the cost of attending a college and a student's' acquired understanding of America's history and key institutions," the study reported. My alma mater, the University of Massachusetts at Boston, outscored Harvard.

Try this multiple-choice question: Who suffers when college students don't much know about their government? The students, the quality of leaders they elect or the country? Half of America's college kids have no clue.

Debra J. Saunders

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