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Report Claims 9.6% Of Recent College Grads Think Judge Judy Is On U.S. Supreme Court

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Judge Judith Sheindlin has held some high-profile positions in her career over the years – having been appointed by Mayor Ed Koch as a Manhattan Criminal Court judge in 1982, and rising to supervising judge of Manhattan Family Court in 1986.

In 1993, Judge Judy was profiled for her tough courtroom tactics on "60 Minutes," and since 1996, she began appearing on "The Judge Judy Show."

That biography does not include a presidential nomination, congressional confirmation, or service on the U.S. Supreme Court. But a new report Tuesday claimed that many recent college graduates think Sheindlin is among the nine justices.

The report, "A Crisis in Civic Education," was released by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, a higher education advocacy group.

MORE: Read The Report

The report claimed that surveys show that recent college graduates are "alarmingly ignorant of America's history and heritage," and that colleges and universities are doing little if anything to address the knowledge gap.

The advocacy group in the late summer of last year commissioned a research firm to ask recent American college graduates and the public at large about their understanding of American government. The group called the results "abysmal."

A total of 9.6 percent of the college graduates marked that Sheindlin was on the Supreme Court, the report said.

Further, only 20.6 percent – and 28.4 percent of college graduates – of all respondents could identify James Madison as the father of the U.S. Constitution, while more than 60 percent of all respondents and 59.2 percent of college graduates thought the answer was Thomas Jefferson, the report said. The report pointed out that Jefferson was ambassador to France at the time and did not attend the Constitutional Convention.

Nearly 60 percent of graduates also did not know how Americans amend the Constitution, 40 percent did not know that Congress has the power to declare war, and almost half did not know U.S. senators are elected to six-year terms and representatives to two-year terms, the report said.

The report further said the figures might understate how poorly colleges are doing, since nearly all survey respondents over 65 knew the president cannot establish taxes, while only 73.8 percent of graduates ages 25 to 34 answered the question correctly.

In exploring the cause, the report accused colleges and universities of failing to maintain the right focus, with "a proliferation of programs that do not express the problem."

"Too many colleges and universities confuse community service and student activism with civic education," the report said.

In particular, the report accused the 2011 U.S. Department of Education-commissioned report "A Crucible Moment" of calling for civic partnerships and alliances and work to strengthen communities, but failing to suggest any academic requirements as recommendations.

The report said "every college and university should require at least one course in the history of America, the workings of its free institutions, and the core documents that illuminate our principles of government."

The report further said state lawmakers should establish guidelines that ensure civic education will be satisfactory for students at public colleges and universities, and alumni and donors should step in to advocate for better civics requirements.

Students headed to college were also advised in the report to "seek out colleges that offer a coherent general education program that is well grounded in the liberal arts, including American history and government.
They should avoid colleges that allow a grab-bag approach to general education."

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