(INDIANAPOLIS) – High school students might have to pass a civics test to graduate:
The Senate has voted 31-17 to make students pass the same test on the basics of American history and government that immigrants take to become U.S. citizens — 100 questions on things like what the three branches of government are.
Huntington Republican Jeff Zay questioned why the state would add another required test at a time when it’s been trying to deemphasize mandatory testing and give teachers more time to teach. And Indianapolis Democrat Greg Taylor calls the proposal “ridiculous” — he argues the test gives short shrift to African-American history, while some of the questions it does include are unreasonably hard.
One senator, Noblesville Republican Victoria Spartz, has already had to take the test. She became a naturalized citizen after emigrating to the U.S. from Ukraine. In a tearful speech on the Senate floor, Spartz argued the concepts the test covers are fundamental to the survival of a free republic, and says students need to understand the differences between America and the Communist regime she fled.
Senate Education Chairman Jeff Raatz (R-Richmond) says state legislators know firsthand that people lack a basic understanding of government, because they hear all the time from voters who get them confused with Congress.
This year’s sophomores would be the first students to face the requirement. You’d need 60 right to pass — the bill would let students take the test as many times as it takes.
The House declined to hear a weaker version of the bill which passed the Senate two years ago. It’ll decide in March whether to consider it this time. Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) says the bill “seems to make sense” but cautions he hasn’t reviewed the bill in detail yet.
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