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AZ to require HS students to pass citizenship civics test to receive diploma; young people increasingly ignorant about government, economics

Civics test

(NaturalNews) Why would anyone in academia and government oppose legislation that requires high school students to demonstrate knowledge about how that government is supposed to work? Answer: Because an ill-informed electorate is easier to manipulate.

That's the only explanation that makes any sense for opponents of a measure enacted by Arizona recently which requires high schoolers to take and pass a U.S. citizenship test on civics before they are allowed to graduate.

Supporters of the Arizona law, the first in the nation, say it is in response to a growing nationwide effort to re-energize civics education, which has, for some reason, largely been abandoned over the past few decades.

The Arizona House and Senate quickly passed the legislation on just the fourth day in session in the new legislative year. Newly elected Republican Gov. Doug Ducey signed it immediately.

As The Associated Press reported further:

The swift action in Arizona comes as states around the country take up similar measures. Arizona's law requires high school students to correctly answer 60 of 100 questions on the civics portion of the test new citizens must pass.

[Writer's note: I had to pass a state constitution test and a federal Constitution test in junior high before I could move on to high school.]

Even Supreme Court justices have recommended more civics education

The civics test is being touted nationwide by the Joe Foss Institute, which is based in Arizona. The organization has set a goal of having the test adopted in all 50 states by 2017, the 230th anniversary of the U.S. Constitution. Legislatures in an additional 15 states are expected to take up the measure this legislative year, the organization said.

The organization, whose motto is "Patriotism Matters," has established a civics institute with the aim of promoting its test for adoption by all state legislatures, as a means of better training the public to have a basic understanding of how the federal government is supposed to work. The goal is to get future citizens more involved and politically engaged.

Frank Riggs, president of the institute and a former California congressman who ran as a Republican last year for Arizona governor, said the point of the test is "to ensure the delivery [of] the very basics [sic] civics education that every high school graduate should have," the AP reported.

Joe Foss is a former South Dakota governor who won the Medal of Honor during World War II. He passed away in 2003, the AP reported.

In recent days, the North Dakota House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved the same measure.

Starting with the 2016-2017 school year, the Arizona law requires high school students to correctly answer 60 of 100 civics questions before they can earn their diploma or GED.

Critics -- most of whom are Democratic lawmakers or liberal educators -- are criticizing the test and questioning whether it is the best way to get students engaged in civics education (criticism that is, of course, being offered without competing solutions or suggestions to improve civics education and civic political engagement).

"This is a step forward"

But even former U.S. Supreme Court justices have said there should be an effort to improve civics teachings at the primary education level. They include Arizona native Sandra Day O'Connor, who said she supports the Arizona measure, and David Souter, who said, in a keynote address to the American Bar Association's annual meeting in 2009, "There is a danger to judicial independence when people have no understanding of how the judiciary fits into the constitutional scheme."

For his part, Ducey asked the legislature to make signing the civics bill his first official act as governor. He said that studies indicate that students simply have no appreciable knowledge about basic government functions to make them effective citizens.

In sponsoring the bill in his chamber, Republican Arizona Senate Majority Leader Steve Yarbrough said "requiring that students pass this test is not by any means a silver bullet, but I think is a step, a small step forward."

"And I think we need to encourage the people of America to become more aware of the values of America," he added.

State Sen. David Bradley, a Democrat, opposed it, saying a test would not translate into making good citizens.

"My point now is tests don't make citizens, citizens are tested by their actions," he said.

Want to test your knowledge of civics? Click here.






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