Civics Test Could Soon Be Required for High School Graduation in Arizona
George Washington (on platform) at the Constitutional Convention of 1787.
Junius Brutus Stearns/TeachingAmericanHistory.org
A proposal that would require Arizona high school students to pass a civics test before graduating may soon become a reality.
The test would require high school students to correctly answer 60 of the 100 questions asked of immigrants seeking to become U.S. citizens, which includes general knowledge questions about the country, like who wrote the Declaration of Independence, and the date of Tax Day.
The bill appears to be a hit among lawmakers.
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In the House, the number of lawmakers sponsoring the bill is higher than the number of votes required to pass it. The bill, which has been introduced in both the House and Senate, already has been scheduled for action in both chambers in this legislative session, which is less than a week old.
Plus, the state's new governor is a fan.
Speaking on education in his State of the State Address, Ducey said, "These are our children, and not long from now, it will be for them to vote on who sits in your chairs and who stands at this podium. How can we expect them to protect the principles on which this country was founded, if we are not preparing them for that task right now?"
Ducey continued, "It's time to make this right and there's a bipartisan bill -- the American Civics Bill. Send it to my desk, and I'll sign it immediately."
Although the bill hasn't been up for votes yet, it doesn't have bipartisan support at this point -- all of the bill's sponsors are Republicans.
Representative Steve Montenegro (center).
Republican Representative Steve Montenegro announced in September his intent to propose such a bill, as part of a nationwide push by a group called the Joe Foss Institute.
"How can we the people maintain or unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness -- rights that so many Americans have fought and died for -- if we're ignorant of these facts?" Montenegro said.
According to the legislation in its current form, high school students would be given an identical copy of the 100-question test administered by the federal government to prospective citizens.
Just like the immigrants, Arizona children would have to answer 60 of these questions correctly to pass, and graduate high school.
The test apparently isn't that easy for the average American without a little studying. The Center for the Study of the American Dream, part of Xavier University, decided to phone up natural-born American citizens a couple of years ago and ask them 10 questions from the test. One in three Americans failed to get six of the 10 questions correct.
Perhaps studying is the key, though, as the survey noted that in 2010, more than 97 percent of immigrants applying for citizenship passed the test.
A complete copy of the test can be found here.
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