Proposed Bill Would Mandate North Dakota High School Seniors Pass Citizenship Test to Graduate

Christine Rousselle
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Posted: Dec 02, 2014 5:45 PM
Proposed Bill Would Mandate North Dakota High School Seniors Pass Citizenship Test to Graduate

Here's an interesting piece of proposed legislation in the Peace Garden State: a bipartisan bill recently unveiled to the North Dakota legislature would require high school students to take and pass the same citizenship exam given to immigrants seeking naturalization in order to graduate.

North Dakota's first lady Betsy Dalrymple and state School Superintendent Kirsten Baesler unveiled a proposed bipartisan legislation on Monday that would require every high school students to get a passing grade on the civics exam to graduate.

Initiative spokesman Sam Stone says the goal is to enact similar laws in all states by 2017, when the Constitution turns 230 years old.

He says that eight states, including the Dakotas, are supporting the idea so far.

Backers say the goal is for North Dakota high school students to learn more about how American government works before they graduate.

People seeking to become naturalized U.S. citizens must correctly answer six out of 10 questions selected randomly from a possible 100. The questions are a mix of U.S. history, current events, and basic geography, and about nine out of 10 people attempting the test pass. If this proposed bill were to become law, North Dakota's high school students would have to pass a 100-question exam, although it would be up to individual schools as to how to implement this.

I'm all for this proposed law. This would be a way to hold schools accountable for educating their students about their rights and the history of the United States. The Xavier University National Civic Literacy Survey showed dismal results—about half of natural-born American citizens would fail the citizenship test if it required seven correct answers. This does not bode well for the future of the United States. How could students be expected to defend their liberties if they have no idea what they are?

The goal of the Jim Foss Institute, who is behind the effort to pass the bill, is to have each state enact a similar law by 2017.

A sample citizenship test can be found here.