On Thursday, Arizona became the first state to enact a law that requires high school students to pass a U.S. citizenship test on civics, in order to graduate.
According to KPHO Phoenix, the bill was approved in a “swift action by the Arizona Legislature,” which comes as states around the country “take up similar measures.”
NBC News reported that law “requires high school students to correctly answer 60 of 100 questions on the civics portion of the U.S. citizenship test,” and that the test is “being pushed nationally” by the 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.”
According to the Associated Press, the Foss Institute, which has the motto “Patriotism Matters,” created a civics institute to “promote the test to state legislatures,” with the hope that students would be “better prepared to be engaged citizens,” when they increased their understanding of government.
Republican Governor of Arizona, Doug Ducey, who is in favor of the bill, released a statement on Monday, urging Congress to pass the bill.
“These are our children, and not long from now, it will be time for them to vote on who sits in your chairs and who stands at this podium,” Ducey said.
According to NBC News, Senator David Bradley was the only Democrat on the education committee who opposed the bill, and he claimed that passing the legislation would “do nothing to make good citizens,” and would just be an extra cost to the state.
Steve Yarbrough, the Republican Senate Majority Leader, who is in favor of the bill, said that while requiring students to pass the civics test is not a “silver bullet,” it is a “small step forward.”
“I think we need to encourage the people of America to become more aware of the values of America,” said Yarbrough. “How can we expect them to protect the principles on which this country was founded, if we are not preparing them for that task right now?”