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'07 survey shows Americans' views mixed on basic freedoms: nearly two-thirds say founders intended ‘Christian nation’; support rises for limits on campaign contributions.

'07 Knight survey shows most high school students haven't heard about Constitution Day
Miami, Fla. – Three years after a new federal law took effect requiring schools to educate all students about the Constitution and the First Amendment, a new survey shows that a majority of America’s students aren’t even aware that Constitution Day exists.

This year’s “Future of the First Amendment” follow-up survey, funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and done by the University of Connecticut’s David Yalof and Ken Dautrich, revealed these key findings:

1. More than half of all high school students say they have not heard of Constitution Day, mandated by federal law since 2004 to be the day the Constitution is taught in schools. Just 1 in 10 remember how their high school celebrated the day last year.

2. Despite increases in the number of First Amendment classes from 2004 through 2006, nearly three-fourths of students still don’t know how they feel about the First Amendment, or take it for granted.

Senator Byrd (D-WVA) started Constitution
Day in 2005

3. Students support individual free expression rights that directly affect or interest them; they’re less supportive of rights that are less relevant to their lives.

4. Parents, not teachers, have the greatest influence on students’ choice of news sources.

5. More students are turning to the Internet to find their news. Their definition of news isn’t much different than that of their parents. <More>

Report Summary
Key Findings
Student Survey
Faculty Survey
Comments on follow-up survey
PDF of follow-up survey
Blank survey for class use

From (A similar survey of American adults)
'07 survey shows Americans' views mixed on basic freedoms
Nearly two-thirds say nation’s founders intended ‘Christian nation’; support rises for limits on campaign contributions (More)


It’s time for parents to pay attention to First Amendment learning
Warren Watson

You consider yourself a good parent.  You work, cook and clean.  You stay informed about the world around you. You understand the issues. You vote.

You press your school-aged kids to finish their homework and mow the lawn. At times, you beseech them to put their iPods and cell phones aside and engage the world. <More>


Young writer says we must be
more responsible
By Alex Capogna

The recent Key Findings from the Future of the First Amendment do not surprise me. Quite frankly, I don’t think the recent findings surprise anybody. Researchers Ken Dautrich and David Yalof continue to support the thought that our country seems to be screwed up when it comes to any of our individual rights.  (More)

First Amendment teaching ineffective
By Randy Swikle

Ask any citizen what single word best describes America, and you’ll likely hear “Freedom!”

But when you ask a citizen to name the five freedoms of the First Amendment, fewer than 2 in 100 can do it.

Sept. 17 is Constitution Day. Since Congress passed that annual designation in 2004, every school and college that receives federal money must teach about the Constitution on or adjacent to that date. (More)


Report underscores importance of media literacy
By Adam Maksl

We news professionals, particularly those of us in media education, often worry about the journalistic integrity in the news we cover. We cringe at the increasing number of column inches and broadcast minutes celebrities receive over issues of government secrecy, for example. And we worry that Americans’ media palette -- particularly those of younger generation -- have caused this trend as they replace reading about public policy issues with watching skateboarding dogs on YouTube. (More)


A superintendent reacts to
Knight report
By Joel Martin

As a public school educator it is always interesting to see the results of well-done and comprehensive research involving students.

Unfortunately, the results are sometimes quite concerning.

The Knight Foundation Future of the First Amendment is both interesting and concerning. In light of my general thought that schools exist to fulfill the responsibility of turning out capable, productive, responsible, informed, and civic minded citizens, I offer the following thoughts. (More)


Celebrating successes in civics
By Diana Hadley

One of the best parts of my job is to hear and celebrate success stories in high school journalism.

Two recent successes relate to Constitution Day.

The first was an e-mail from Lake Central (Ind.) High School that began, “You would be so proud…” The rest of the e-mail described the publications staffs’ plans to celebrate Constitution Day. The students designed shirts to support the First Amendment and sold them with the goal to donate $1 from each sale to the Student Press Law Center. They had already sold more than 150. (More)


Let's focus on our civic health
By Mary Beth Tinker

Lately, I’ve been spending a lot of time at the student health clinic where I work looking at tonsils, swollen lymph nodes,  broken ankles, and every kind of rash imaginable.   My job is to help students be strong and healthy, and I enjoy it. 

Young people inspire me with humor, honesty and creative energy.

I also think about the civic health of our young citizens. (More)

Comment on this survey

Overview of the original Knight Foundation research
The original 2004-05 survey of 112,000 high school students was part of a groundbreaking research project conducted by Dautrich and Yalof and sponsored by the Knight Foundation. The research showed that America’s youth had a poor knowledge and appreciation of our most basic freedoms. Attitudes of teachers and principals also were explored.  The research showed that journalism classes and student media involvement can turn that around.


Latest News - Go to  

Latest Research  
2006 Follow-up Study:

Knight Foundation follow-up survey shows classes on guaranteed freedoms are on the rise, but so is student skepticism

MIAMI – U.S. high school students know more about the First Amendment than they did two years ago, but they are increasingly polarized in how they feel about it, according to an update of a groundbreaking survey funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

U.S. high school students are far more likely to take classes that teach about the First Amendment than two years ago, according to the survey. And more students now support protections for the news media. They also are more in favor of their right to report in their own newspapers without school officials’ approval. (More)

Race, ethnicity and immigrants.

The latest breakout research shows that students born outside the U.S. are more likely to think that the First Amendment goes too far in the rights it guarantees. Racial and ethnic minorities -- as well as foreign-born citizens are most likely to participate in student media activities. See the latest.


White Papers  

White Paper IV - Race, Ethnicity and Immigrants - April 2006

White Paper III - Teens and their news-consumption behaviors

White Paper II - Boys show a slightly greater appreciation of First Amendment freedoms than girls

White Paper I - Suburban students lag behind in First Amendment appreciation

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