Require High Schoolers Pass Immigrants Citizenship Test To Graduate




Last year I was teaching a law class at Broward College.  I learned that the stereotype of the immigrant/citizen knowing more about America government than the native born is probably true

Far and away the most knowledgeable student was a woman from Poland who was getting ready to take her citizenship test.

A survey by the Annenberg Foundation indicated that fewer than half of Americans understood the concept of separation of powers. A third could not name the three branches of government.  Twice as many could name a judge on American Idol than the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.  I think it’s fair to assume that Floridians were no better and that Florida high school students are probably worse.

Thus, if my class learned nothing other than the Constitution, it would be worthwhile.  Beginning with The Preamble, we worked our way through to AMENDMENT XVII—Congressional $$$ raises can only go into effect after an election.

Why did the Polish women know so much about our system of government?

The attached link will give you an idea of the 100 questions that are orally administered to prospective citizens who need to score 60% to obtain citizenship. .

How did you do?

As of January 15, if you don’t get 60% right on this test, you can’t get a high school diploma in Arizona.

Florida needs to adopt that standard.

I know that some in education are saying that this is just rote and has no educational substance.  I disagree.

My Seventh grade teacher, Miss Haney—God forbid you called her Mrs. Haney—required us to memorize The Preamble, The First Amendment, portions of the Declaration of Independence and Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address.  That was 1957 and I am glad that I can still perfectly spit them out.

Voting is an opinion.  And like a******s, everyone has one.

An informed opinion is something else.

And how can anyone have an informed opinion to vote if they don’t have a basic understanding of the structure and rules of our government? Things like:

Name the three branches of government.

Who’s your governor?

How many Senators does each state have?

Name two offices in the President’s cabinet.

Etc., etc., etc.

The idea of requiring high school grads to know at least as much as those seeking citizenship comes from the Joe Foss Institute which is pitching the idea to all the nation’s legislatures.

I hope someone in Florida picks up on that.




8 Responses to “Require High Schoolers Pass Immigrants Citizenship Test To Graduate”

  1. Zach1234 says:

    First I am not in favor of the kids taking another test, but I think the citizen test should be a no brainer. I have taken the test and scored in the 90% range. I helped a co-worker study for the test and he could answer so many questions which children of today could not do. I think Florida is trying to make students more accountable by requiring the students take Civics. I work the polls at election time and so many people come to vote with no idea of who is running, so which ever party gets to them first with their “Palm Card” wins. Maybe we should go back and use the Elector College. It was designed for representatives to vote for citizens who were not in the main stream of the country (like farmers, etc). People voting blindly has most likely changed the winner even in presidential elections because the lack of knowledge. Voting and knowing our basic rights should not be taken lightly.


    It might be a “no brainer” to you, but let me tell you about a little incident more than a decade ago in the Sun-Sentinel newsroom. Knowing that I was the political reporter, one of the newbies shyly shuffled up to my desk and asked me, “How many U. S. Senators does Florida have?”

    Now, this kid was born in the United States. This kid had already worked at another newspaper and a degree from a well-known and respected university. Yet this kid didn’t know a basic fact about the U. S. government structure. I was amazed.

    And I felt a lot better about my sons, who at least from elementary school knew that each state has two U. S. Senators.

  2. Real Deal says:

    Excellent post.

  3. Andrew Ladanowski says:

    On the surface what Mr. Fields says sounds great. Kids should take a citizenship test like immigrants do. If he would have talked to immigrants like myself he would have realized the test is lower standards than high school standardized test we have today. The citizenship is based on teaching you the answers to 100 questions and having you write one sentence correctly.
    Here are some of my favorite questions was “Who lived in America before the European’s arrived? A. Canadians, B. No one, C. American Indians, D. Floridians. What happened at the Constitutional Convention? The Emancipation Proclamation was written, B. The Virginia Declaration of Rights was written, C. The Declaration of Independence was written. D. The Constitution was written. My favorite one for me was “Name two states which boarder Canada?” Good thing I remember Sara Palin Talking about she could see Russia from her house, and that when I was a kid I would watch an apple fall every New Year’s, otherwise I would have failed this one.
    I actually think the Citizenship requirements need to take lessons from the high schools. Legal residents wanting to become citizens should be required to have to pass the GED to ensure they can merge into society. They should at minimum use my son’s grade 7 Civics Economics & geography text book, and not just have you memorize the answers to 100 questions. The citizenship test is a joke, the test required me to write one sentence correctly. I can ensure you that to graduate from high school you need to be proficient in writing more than one sentence. Getting a high school diploma in Florida requires you volunteer at least 40 hours in order to graduate. I can’t hire an attorney to take my GED for me, but I can hire one to fill out those forms if I have not mastered the English language.
    It’s a myth that immigrants are required to know more than students who graduate from high school.

  4. John Henry says:

    LOL. They have “law classes” at BCC?

  5. Kevin Hill says:

    As someone who has taught Introduction to American Government at the university level since 1994, I can tell you that in the past 21 years, the college AG textbooks have been dumbed down considerably because of the utter lack of civics education in secondary schools.

    I REFUSE to dumb down the content of my classes, and have seen the average grades among freshmen drop from B/B- to C/C-.

    I do not blame the high school teachers; I blame the madness of testing that takes away from time for civics and history education (which were the WHOLE IDEA behind compulsory universal education in the late 19th century).

    So, more civics education YES; but for God’s sake no more idiotic tests taking time away from actual learning!!


  6. Teachie says:

    Every 7th grade public school student must pass a state created end of course exam in civics to be promoted to the 8th grade. Maybe those students haven’t trickled up to college yet. Hopefully it will help.

  7. Chaz Stevens, I am Festivus says:

    Hey Sam.

    Explain to me exactly how this works — “God forbid you called her Mrs. Haney.”

    Were you smote?

    I’ve been taking gawd’s name in vain since, like forever… Still waiting for the smoting.

  8. westdavieresident says:

    So Sam must agree with those of us on the right that believe uninformed voters have given us Barack Obama.

    A national survey released today stated that 70% of millenials could not name a United States Senator from their home state!

    So how can we expect voters to know the difference between Keynesian economics and Friedman money supply management. Or big stick Teddy Roosevelt foreign policy versus leading from behind Obama style.

    I respect those who vote for any candidate as long as they can give me a dozen reasons why.

    Passing a citizenship style test should definitely be a requirement to graduate college and, perhaps, to register to vote!