First-Ever Law Requires AZ Students to Know Basic Civics to Graduate
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) has signed into law a measure that will require high school students in the state to pass the U.S. citizenship test on civics before graduation.
Arizona is the first state in the nation to enact such a law.
As you can see from the stats above, knowledge about the U.S. government and the nation's founding seem to be lacking.
Students in the state will be required to correctly answer at least 60 of 100 questions from the test given to prospective citizens.
The swift action in Arizona comes as states around the country take up similar measures. Arizona's law requires high school students to correctly answer 60 of 100 questions on the civics portion of the test new citizens must pass.
The test is being pushed nationally by the Arizona-based Joe Foss Institute, which has set a goal of having all 50 states adopt it by 2017, the 230th anniversary of the U.S. Constitution. The institute says legislatures in 15 states are expected to consider it this year.
The Foss Institute, whose motto is "Patriotism Matters," has created a civics institute to promote the test to state legislatures as a way to increase the understanding of basic government by students, with the hope they will be better prepared to be engaged citizens.
Institute president Frank Riggs, a former California congressman who ran for Arizona governor as a Republican last year, said the testing initiative seeks "to ensure the delivery the very basics civics education that every high school graduate should have."
Joe Foss is a former South Dakota governor and won the Medal of Honor during World War II. He died in 2003.
The North Dakota House of Representatives overwhelming approved the same measure Thursday.
Some Democrats and teachers spoke out against the bill, saying the civics test requires nothing more than basic memorization by students. They argue civics should be emphasized, but with more focus on critical thinking.
Steve Doocy discussed the new law with Arizona House Majority Leader Steve Montenegro (R), who pointed out that 92 percent of immigrants pass this test the first time.
"We're looking at basic, fundamental facts of how our government works, where our rights come from, what the Bill of Rights does, what the Constitution is," he said.
Sample questions include:
Name one branch of the government.
What's the capital of your state?
Who's the commander-in-chief of the U.S. military?
What do we call the first 10 Amendments of the Constitution?
Who is in charge of the executive branch?
Watch the discussion below.