There They Go Again: College Students Can’t Identify Photo of Ronald Reagan

by Leah Jessen

A video shows “politically challenged” college students are unable to identify former President Ronald Reagan in a photograph.

“Was that a former president?” a student majoring in government and international politics at George Mason University asked when shown the picture of Reagan. “Nixon, maybe?”

Numerous students at George Mason University, located near Washington, D.C., in Fairfax, Va., were unable to identity America’s beloved 40th president in the same classic photo.  

One student guessed Bill Clinton.

“I’ve seen that guy before,” another student stalled before giving up.  

Texas Tech University’s nonpartisan political organization PoliTech and the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, a nonprofit organization that promotes civic education at America’s colleges and universities, conducted the survey. They found that the students weren’t any better at identifying Vice President Joe Biden, but they easily identifiedKim Kardashian.

The American Council of Trustees and Alumni released a survey that found that nearly one in 10 recent college graduates think TV personality “Judge Judy” is on the Supreme Court.

“There is a crisis in American civic education,” the group’s January report says. “Survey after survey shows that recent college graduates are alarmingly ignorant of America’s history and heritage.”

The same study found that “almost 40 percent of college graduates didn’t know that Congress has the power to declare war and nearly half couldn’t recognize the term lengths of members of Congress.”

“Studies show that our colleges and universities are doing little or nothing to address the knowledge gap,” the report says. It notes a survey of more than 1,100 liberal arts colleges and universities found that only 18 percent “require students to take even one survey course in American history or government before they graduate.”

Leah Jessen

Leah Jessen is a news reporter for The Daily Signal and graduate of The Heritage Foundation's Young Leaders Program. Send an email to Leah.