House and Senate lawmakers push for civics test requirement for graduation

Following on the heels of Arizona, a group of lawmakers in the House and Senate have offered up a proposal that would make a civics test a requirement for high school graduation. Arizona recently became the first state in the country to pass the Civics Education Initiative.

The “Missouri Civics Education Initiative” would require every high school student to pass a United States Citizenship Civics test prior to receiving a diploma.  Students would need to score sixty percent or higher to pass the test. Students would be given as many chances to take the test as they need to pass. This is the same test given to immigrants in order to become U.S. citizens.

Sens. Ryan Silvey (R-Kansas City), Jeannie Riddle (R-Mokane) and Reps. Kathy Swan (R-Cape Girardeau), Elijah Haahr (R-Springfield) and Jeremy LeFaver (D-Kansas City) spoke at a press conference to explain the purpose of the initiative and why they felt it was important.

“It’s something we’re all excited to get behind and we think it will make our students better prepared for the future,” said Silvey.

“Why are they doing this?” Riddle, a former teacher, said. “Because our children need to understand the origins and functionality of their federal government. No matter where they live in this country, that information will be fundamental in how they view the government and how they participate. Our children and grandchildren must be active and knowledgeable.”

“This initiative is designed to help our teachers and our students understand how government and democracy works and to encourage them to participate in it more actively and successfully,” LeFaver said.

Rep. Swan mentioned statistics that say 92 percent of immigrants pass the test while students are not passing at nearly that high of a percentage, some statistics saying as low as 34 percent.

The lawmakers at the press conference were happy to share their scores on the test, each of them scoring a 97 percent or higher.

For more information about education issues, please contact Brian Bunten, asst. general counsel/director of governmental affairs for the Missouri Chamber, at bbunten@mochamber.com or by phone at 573-634-3511.

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The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry understands that the quality of life in our state depends on quality jobs for Missourians. To that end, we have one simple mission: to protect and advance Missouri business.

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