Well, if that’s true – it would come as a surprise to an entire country.
According to a new report published by the U.S. government’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), 33% of American eighth graders believe that Canada is a dictatorship. The finding was one of several revealed in the NCES in its annual National Assessment of Educational Progress Report last month. This report presents the results of standardized tests given to more than 29,000 different eighth graders across the United States.
The test has a number of questions that are either open-ended or multiple choice based, and revolved around history, geography, and civics.
“What do the current governments of Canada, France, and Australia have in common?” read the multiple choice question from the 2014 test.
One of the four answers read, “They have leaders with absolute power.” This answer was chosen by 23% of students. Another 10% of students answered “They are controlled by the military.” Sadly, another 12% chose “They discourage participation by citizens in public affairs.”
Apparently Canada, France, and Australia really suck.
While many students answered the question wrong, the majority of students were able to answer the question correctly. The correct answer is that Canada, France and Australia all have constitutions that limit their power.
Kenneth Holland, Executive Director of the Center for International Development at Ball State University in Indiana, says that he believes it’s a growing problem that Americans know so little about their neighbor to the North.
“Canada is a very important ally of the United States. You can see that all over the world right now. Ukraine, Iraq, Syria: Canada is right there fighting alongside the United States,” he said. In addition, he stated that it should be considered a failure to have so many American children unaware of so many things about Canada.
This story reminds me of the old Rick Mercer reports where he would talk to everyday Americans, scholars, professors, and politicians. When talking to them, he would ask questions around absurd stereotypes about Canada. Some of these questions sound ridiculous to Canadians, such as “How do you feel about Chinese-Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien on getting his first double double?” In another instance, he was able to get several governors to congratulate Canada on declaring their national igloo.
The video can be found here, and it is definitely worth a watch.