Daily Mail: How many amendments does the Constitution have? And who is the president of the United States?
If you cannot answer the above two questions, you may not pass the US citizenship test on civics. And therefore, you might not be able to graduate from high school in Arizona – thanks to a new bill.
On Thursday, state governor, Doug Ducey, signed new legislation requiring all high school students to pass the civics test before they can graduate. It will come into effect in the 2016-17 school year.
Under the legislation, Arizona students must correctly answer 60 of the 100 cited questions in order to pass the test and graduate. This is the equivalent of an ‘F’ on a typical school grading scale.
The civics exam, which aims to increase students’ knowledge of basic government, includes subjects such as the Founding Fathers, the Bill of Rights, past US presidents and the location of states.
Questions include: If the president can no longer serve, who becomes president?; We elect a U.S. Senator for how many years?, and name one state that borders Canada. They also feature: What do we call the first 10 amendments to the constitution?, and before he was president, Eisenhower was a general. What war was he in?
Arizona’s new legislation is part of a nationwide push by the Arizona-based Joe Foss Institute, which aims to have all 50 states adopt the requirement by 2017, the 230th anniversary of the Constitution. The Institute, whose motto is ‘Patriotism Matters,’ has created a civics institute to promote the test to state legislatures to ensure that students are be better prepared to be engaged American citizens.
Institute president Frank Riggs, a former California congressman who ran for Arizona governor as a Republican last year, said the testing initiative seeks ‘to ensure the delivery the very basics civics education that every high school graduate should have.’
‘This has been building for a long time,’ added Ted McConnell, executive director of the Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools, co-chaired by ex-US Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.
But addressing educators’ warnings that the test is not a fix-all solution to the nation’s dire knowledge of civics, Mr. McConnell added he is aware it only skims the surface of what students need to know.
‘The folks who are civic educators and experts by and large are pushing for a much, much more well-rounded approach,’ said Paul Baumann, director of the National Center for Learning and Civic Engagement at the Education Commission of the States, a state-led research organization.
According to the Joe Foss Institute, legislatures in 15 states are expected to consider introducing compulsory civics tests for high school students this year. Although the North Dakota House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved the same measure on Thursday, Arizona’s proposal was the first to become law. Utah, South Dakota and Tennessee have bills either already presented or about to be introduced.
Sample questions (answers at the bottom):
1. How many amendments does the Constitution have? 12, 27, 35 or 42
2. We elect a U.S. Senator for how many years? 4, 8, 6 or 10
3. We elect a president for how many years? 4, 12, 8 or 5
4. What is the name of the president of the United States now? Obama, Ford, Clinton or Bush
5. If the president can no longer serve, who becomes president? Chief of staff, the vice president, secretary of state, lead general
6. What do we call the first 10 amendments to the constitution? The Bill of Rights, the Ten Commandments, the Bill of Lading or the List of Ten
7. Which is a right or freedom from the First Amendment? Right to vote, right to avoid taxes, right to free exercise of religion, or right to bear arms
8. What was the purpose of the Declaration of Independence? Formed an alliance with South America, announced our independence from Great Britain, announced our independence from Germany or freed the slaves
9. What is one purpose of the U.S. Constitution? Declared war, defines state laws, protects the basic rights of Americans or establishes treaties
10. Before he was president, Eisenhower was a general. What war was he in? World War II, World War I, Civil War
11. Name one state that borders Canada. California, Idaho, Ohio or Massachusetts
Answers: 1. 27; 2. 6; 3. 4; 4. Obama; 5. The vice president; 6. The Bill of Rights; 7. Right to free exercise of religion; 8. Announced our independence from Great Britain; 9. Protects the basic rights of Americans; 10. World War II; 11. Idaho.