Citizenship Tests for Citizens

The subject for this commentary was from a magazine in a doctor’s office waiting room. Doctors seldom see patients on time, but they do often have a good collection of old magazines.

The Bloomberg article I read centered on how Americans are becoming less and less educated. Late night comedians have been having much fun exposing how little citizens know about their country. I don’t find it funny. One of the highest achievements by citizens was that three fourths of U.S. citizens tested knew that the declaration of independence was against England. Of course that means one fourth had no clue. A third of those tested couldn’t name a single branch of government and three fourths had no idea why the Civil War was fought. Most high school students are required to take a civics class, but only 27 percent “…demonstrated proficiency in the subject…” in 2010.

A movement has developed to require high school students to pass the same citizenship test given to immigrants. Arizona and North Dakota have adopted the requirement with 19 other states considering it. The driving force behind the movement is that “…ignorance has never been an excuse for failing a test in high school—on civics, chemistry, or anything else.”

The federal government’s citizenship test has basic questions about U.S. history and government. “Each year, more than half a million immigrants take the test and pass to become citizens. A survey in 2012 found 65 percent of U.S. citizens tested passed by answering six of ten questions correctly.”

My cynicism is exposed by my thought that the number of people passing the test would undoubtedly improve if it was required before someone is allowed to register to be on the social media sites.

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