I would actually agree with Republicans on something: requiring a basic civics test, as Arizona has done, seems like a reasonable expectation. It helps that it really isn’t very difficult: here’s a set of sample questions, which most people have managed to get more than 90% right (60% is required to pass; I got 100%). I am suspicious of the Republican motives, though: they probably think they are putting up a barrier for immigrants, which seems to be the obsession among Arizona politicians.
But there are two things I like about it. The article points out an important datum:
A 2010 Harvard study by Jennifer Bachner found that students “who completed a year of course work in American government/civics are 3 to 6 percentage points more likely to vote in an election following high school than those without exposure to civics education.”
I agree that citizens ought to understand how their government works.
But also, I think they underestimate the intelligence and ambition of the people they think this test would hinder, while not realizing that the group that would probably most suffer difficulty with a basic, objective test on American government are the dedicated watchers of Fox News.
It’s OK, just as long as they don’t follow the path Florida is trying to establish: some Florida politicians want to make watching Dinesh D’Souza’s propaganda movie, America: Imagine the World Without Her required in high school. You’d have to watch it twice to graduate.
With a dismal eight percent approval on the film review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, ‘America’ has been criticized by some as offensive, right-wing propaganda.
“His argument boils down to this: History is written by the winners, and everyone else can go suck an egg,” Newsday movie critic Rafer Guzman wrote. “Native Americans decimated by European diseases? ‘It’s not genocide, because genocide implies an intention’ Blacks sold into slavery? Yeah, but lots of countries had slaves … As for Mexicans grousing that the United States took half their land in 1848, aren’t they the ones who keep trying to sneak out of that wretched country?”
That’s civics miseducation. Let’s not do that.