Students should take civics exams
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