If there was ever a movie to make you laugh to keep from crying, it's this one.
Austin, an intrepid young student-reporter, embarks on the noble mission of answering the question, "How much basic knowledge do American high school students really have?" The answer, however, may not be exactly what you want to hear.
"Do you know the vice president of The United States?" Austin asks.
"I don't know who it it's, it's, it's somebody....Bin Ladin," one student responds.
The video continues in similar fashion, asking everything from, "In what war did America gain independence?" (which no one answered correctly without a hint) to "What countries border America?"
Comedy aside, the United States' poor international rankings in subject proficiencies such as math is a problem that could cost the country around $75 trillion over 80 years, according to a study called "Globally Challenged: Are U.S. Students Ready to Compete?"
Based on the research, U.S. students place behind 31 other countries in math proficiency, and behind 16 other countries in reading.
Paul Peterson, a Harvard government professor, notes the effect this could have on the economy.
"If we're going to grow at the rate that we hope to grow at to address the many issues that exist in our society, we need to have a powerful educational system that is producing a highly proficient workforce," Peterson told HuffPost in October.
Finland shocked the world with their scores on the 2000 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) --an international exam for 15-year-olds where it ranked first for reading proficiency. By 2009, the country inhabited the top of the roster in reading, second in science and sixth in math.
A 2010 study by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) showed the U.S. history testing scores are "stagnant," with only 9 percent of fourth graders correctly identifying a photograph of Abraham Lincoln and stating two reasons for his importance.
Lee White, executive director of the National History Coalition, says the problem stems from history's place in American curriculum.
"They've narrowed the curriculum to teach to the test. History has been deemphasized," he said. "You can't expect kids to have great scores in history when they're not being taught history."
Watch the video above.
UPDATE 2/5/2012 10:50 A.M.: The two student journalists who created the video have issued a statement. From KIRO-TV:
"The video that we made as a school project has received a lot of unexpected media attention, and has been co-opted into an ongoing political debate that has become quite volatile. It should be known that we filmed for several hours, during which time many students gave correct responses; the film represents a short segment of the most entertaining answers. The bottom line is that we made the video to get a few laughs around our school, and it turned into something bigger. It was not our intent to polarize people, set off a firestorm, or get people to point fingers. Having said that, people will take from it what they will. We want to continue our work as student journalists in a productive manner."
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