Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Colorado Senate Rejects Civics Bill, Citizenship Test

Today, after three floor readings of SB-148 - The "Citizenship Test" graduation requirement - the Colorado Senate rejected the civics bill by a vote of 18-17. State senator Jack Tate joined seventeen other legislators who stood up for parents and educators who argued against the increase in standardized testing. After the bill had barely passed the Senate Education Committee 5-4, and passed the Senate floor the day before on a voice vote, enough Colorado legislators sensibly rejected an undesired and unnecessary bill which would have been the "highest stakes test in Colorado." While no one disputes the value of civics - which is currently a required class in Colorado - critics of the bill exposed many problems with the idea. On the most basic level, there is widespread opposition to any single test being a graduation requirement. That approach is far too narrow and diminishes the entire idea of a well-rounded education of mulitple subjects and thousands of hours of learning. Secondly, standardized tests of this sort can only measure memorization and regurgitation of arbitrary factual issues, the knowledge of which does not necessarily reflect a true understanding of citizenship or civics. And, that idea is another criticism - that a single test as a measurement makes faulty claims about true knowledge. Being able to memorize info for a test would not accurately reflect or guarantee a student's true knowledge of history, civics, or citizeship.

Again, no one believes that Americans' knowledge of civics is solid. Teens and adults clearly have a lot to learn. But this test would not prove anything, and it would have done more harm than good. Perhaps we could just require that kids learn this rap:

Or maybe this one. These kids are learning their civics.

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