Stu­dents should take civics ex­ams

The Citizens' Voice - - Editorial -

Ed­i­tor: I ap­plaud your edi­to­rial “Peo­ple to­day need civics ed­u­ca­tion” (Dec. 27).

Penn­syl­va­nia is one of only 20 states with no mea­sure­ments for civics pro­fi­ciency. This is par­tic­u­larly con­cern­ing as stud­ies show that only 24 per­cent of U.S. high school stu­dents are pro­fi­cient in civics and a third of U.S. cit­i­zens can­not name the three branches of gov­ern­ment. Na­tional polling shows 74 per­cent of Amer­i­cans be­lieve stu­dents should be re­quired to take the U.S. civics exam.

I, along with Rep. Bill Kortz (D-Al­legheny), in­tro­duced the Civics Ed­u­ca­tion Ini­tia­tive un­der­taken by the Joe Foss In­sti­tute in Ari­zona. Since 2014, 23 states have adopted com­pa­ra­ble leg­is­la­tion re­quir­ing all stu­dents to take the civics por­tion of the U.S. Cit­i­zen­ship Test re­quired for those who wish to be­come nat­u­ral­ized U.S. cit­i­zens. Schools would be given max­i­mum flex­i­bil­ity in im­ple­ment­ing the test, which fits nicely within the ex­ist­ing state so­cial stud­ies cur­ricu­lum and re­quires lit­tle to no im­ple­men­ta­tion costs, as the civics tests and ma­te­ri­als are al­ready avail­able free on­line. It is ironic that we re­quire im­mi­grants seek­ing U.S. cit­i­zen­ship to pass a civics exam, yet the vast ma­jor­ity of our stu­dents are not re­quired to know the same ba­sic in­for­ma­tion.

I un­der­stand that re­quir­ing stu­dents to take the U.S. civics exam is not a panacea, nor an al­ter­na­tive to class­room in­struc­tion. How­ever, just like the al­pha­bet and mul­ti­pli­ca­tion ta­bles, it pro­vides the ba­sic frame­work for stu­dents to learn about our his­tory and form of gov­ern­ment to help them be­come in­formed and re­spon­si­ble cit­i­zens. This should not be in­ter­preted as a man­date — rather, a ba­sic un­der­stand­ing of U.S. civics and gov­ern­ment should be an ex­pec­ta­tion. I will work tire­lessly with House lead­er­ship and col­leagues on both sides of the aisle to pass this im­por­tant leg­is­la­tion this year. State Rep. Karen Boback 117TH LEG­ISLA­TIVE DISTRICT HARVEYS LAKE

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