A proposal before the North Dakota state legislature would require high school students to take the same test that immigrants take to become U.S. citizens in order to graduate from high school.
The proposal, which has bipartisan support, was displayed by North Dakota’s first lady Betsy Dalrymple and state School Superintendent Kirsten Baesler on Monday. If the proposal succeeds, high school students would have to pass the test to graduate.
Sam Stone, national campaign manager for the Civics Education Initiative and the spokesman for the proposal, said that he hopes to have all 50 states adopt the legislation by 2017. Stone asserted that eight states favor the proposal, including both North and South Dakota. He said, “This a first step to increasing civics education in schools, renewing the importance and focus on civics.” The other states considering the proposal are Arizona, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Utah.
Arizona State Rep. Steve Montenegro introduced a similar bill in September. He said, “Every single student in Arizona and across the United States of America should have basic knowledge and understanding of American government. Civics is just common sense.”
The Pew Research Center found that roughly one-third of Americans can name the three branches of the U.S. government; other studies show that less than 4% of high school students in Oklahoma and Arizona could pass the U.S. Citizenship Civics test. Immigrants wanting citizenship must score 92% or higher in order to gain citizenship.