Arizona civics test sets a good example for other states

Minnesota may end up following suit.

by Keelia Moeller

Arizona recently became the first state to require high school students to take and pass a civics test before their graduation — the same civics test that’s given to immigrants who aspire to become official United States citizens.

The bill passed just four days after it entered the Legislature, going through both the Arizona House and Senate with flying colors.

The idea behind the civics test comes from the Joe Foss Institute, whose main slogan is “Patriotism Matters.” The Foss Institute is pushing its idea nationally, and it hopes to have all 50 states sign the civics test into law by 2017 — the 230th anniversary of the U.S. Constitution.

As of now, the institute says 15 states in total will consider legislation regarding civics tests this year, with Minnesota among them. There is already a new bill in the Capitol proposing that a civics test be required for high-school graduation starting in the 2016-17 academic year.

This civics test consists of 100 basic questions regarding how U.S. government works, who is involved with each part of the government and what various historical political figures did, among other things. To pass, students need only get 60 out of 100 questions correct.

Now, for those of you who are saying, “You can’t expect high-school students to memorize that amount of information,” just pause for a second. The margin to pass this test is incredibly low — a D-minus, to be exact. There is truly not that much information students will need to memorize to succeed. Students will also get infinite chances to pass the test.

But if teachers aren’t educating their students enough about the government so that students can’t achieve a score of 60 out of 100, it says something about the teachers — not the students.

As of 2014, only 36 percent of Americans could identify the three branches of government, and about three-fourths of Americans were unaware that it takes a two-thirds vote in each house of Congress to overturn a presidential veto.

Our knowledge about our own country’s civic system is rather pathetic.

Given these statistics, it is vital that the country pulls together to educate students about the way the American government works.

We teach people from other countries that to be an American, one must know the way America works, who runs the country and everything in between.

Although we require immigrants to pass this test to become U.S. citizens, most Americans would be unable to pass a citizenship test for their own country.

It is about time that America learns to live up to the expectations it holds for everyone else. This civics test is a much-needed requirement that will hopefully make the nation a more educated one.

Minnesota’s newly developed bill is a step in the right direction — let’s just hope that the next step will be passing it into law.