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State High School Grads May Have to Pass Civics Test

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Capitol Media Services photo by Howard Fischer
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High schoolers who can’t name at least one branch of government, define the United States as a capitalist country or at least know Phoenix is the state capitol could find themselves denied a diploma. Arizona Public Radio’s Howard Fischer explains.

The proposal by the Joe Foss Institute would make getting a passing grade on the 100-question test now administered by immigration officials a prerequisite to graduating. They range from things like naming the current president to why the colonists fought the British. Institute president Lucian Spataro said many students don’t know the answers because of the change in emphasis in public schools.

“Civics and social studies and history are being boxed out of the classroom to some extent. And what we have is a very narrow curriculum right now focused on science, technology, engineering and math, which is really important stuff, but not so important that you don’t need to know how to run the country. Or learn how the country operates. Or vote,” Spataro said.

Rep. Steve Montenegro has agreed to sponsor the legislation. But, the measure will not include additional funding based on the premise students already are supposed to be learning the basics of civics. And, what about requiring those who make the laws in Arizona pass the same test?

“Our focus right now is our kids. This is very serious to us. Our kids. You know, this is their future. This is their country. We take it very seriously. Folks standing behind me have been working on this for a long time. We care about our country. This is about patriotism. This is something we want to install in our kids,” Montenegro said.

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