North Dakota Superintendent Wants Students To Prove Mastery Of Civics With Citizenship Test


Superintendent of Public Schools Kirsten Baesler and First Lady Betsy Dalrymple are touting legislation which would make it a requirement that North Dakota students pass the same test those wishing to become citizens of the United States must pass.

If approved by the Legislature next spring, the bill would require students to answer at least 60 percent of the test’s 100 questions correctly starting in the 2016-17 school year in order to graduate.

“This is an important initiative in my mind because this bill takes us back to the principles we have as a nation,” Baesler said.

The bill is part of the national Civics Education Initiative, an affiliate of the Joe Foss Institute. Foss, a former South Dakota governor and Marine Corps pilot who received the Congressional Medal of Honor, started the nonprofit to enlist veterans to teach young people about the value of their freedoms. He died in 2003.

You can read the 100 questions that are on the civics portion of the naturalization test here.

Probably not real difficult stuff for the SAB audience, which trends toward the highly politically engaged, but I could see some of those questions being real stumpers for the average citizen.

But the proposed legislation would only require 60 percent to pass, so there’s that.

This is a fine notion, but I don’t see it having much impact on our woeful civics education. In fact, on a related note, it may surprise many of you to learn that one of the first things newly-elected lawmakers in Bismarck are doing this week during the Legislature’s organizational session is learning how the legislative process works. No joke, this is from the session’s agenda:


To be fair, there’s a lot of procedural stuff about serving in the legislature which necessitates these sort of informational sessions, but you’d think the basics of how a bill becomes a law would be something people who campaigned to be lawmakers would already have a handle on.

Yet it’s necessary, because a lot of them don’t.

Update: Here’s the full press release from Baesler’s office.


Civics Education Bill Press Release Print Dec 1 2014 FINAL