Earlier this week North Dakota Superintendent Kirsten Baesler, along with a group of lawmakers including Rep. Mike Nathe who chairs the House Education Committee, proposed legislation to mandate that North Dakota high schoolers pass the same civics test immigrants have to pass to become American citizens.
The proposal has received national attention. Rush Limbaugh has even picked up on it. “North Dakota Teaches American Greatness,” reads the headline on his website.
Here’s an excerpt from his monologue on the topic:
There are people in North Dakota who oppose this, and those people should be voted out of office as soon as possible. This is just a baseline requirement. What can there possibly be to object to in this?
You can’t say it’s too hard. You can’t say it’s discriminatory. You can’t say it’s racist. You can’t say it’s sexist. You can’t say it’s bigoted. How is it discriminatory? (interruption) Oh, it’s discriminatory because it discriminates against people who don’t know. Right. They don’t have white privilege and haven’t been taught this stuff.
I’m not sure the proposal is as controversial here in North Dakota as Limbaugh makes it out to be. I’m not sure why it would be controversial at all. It’s basic stuff (here’s the test) about how our government works. One would hope that our school curriculum is already covering it.
But maybe that’s why it’s grabbed people’s attention. Or maybe it’s just more of that teen crisis stuff. It seems every generation thinks the one coming after it is ignorant and apathetic. Lazy and decadent.
And yet the world keeps spinning.
If you ask me, this is a political move by Baesler who is having a hard time with conservatives in the state upset with her backing of Common Core. She needed to do something to endear herself again, and something like this is pretty low hanging fruit.
Besides, the legislation being proposed would only require correct answers to 60 percent of the questions. Given that most of the questions are pretty easy, I can’t imagine even the most apathetic high schooler is going to have to burn too many brain cells over it.