Thomas Jefferson wrote: “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.”
Senate Bill 60 (American Civics Education Initiative) might have a valid desired outcome — that of an increase in political activism and a deeper appreciation for the fundamental principles of the U.S. Constitution; it is faulty, however, in its means — the requirement of a competency test for graduation. I am not sure that much of anything “required” (especially high-stakes testing) accomplishes much more than increasing distrust of authority and even more “rebellion.”
My suggestion is to increase the value that we place on civics education throughout all years of our public education and public discourse. Social studies has been marginalized especially since No Child Left Behind. A study from the National Center for Education Statistics states there is a net loss of four weeks of social studies instruction per academic year.
I plead with the community not to diminish the process of civics education by thinking that a required test “fixes” the lack of civic literacy, but that all would support and encourage civic literacy as a fundamental part of our public education system embedded throughout all grades.