Broad Support for Civics Test Requirement in NH - 375 Responses

Feb 07, 2015

It's a requirement for every legal alien seeking U.S. citizenship, but should NH's high school students also be able to pass the U.S. Citizenship Civics Test in order to graduate? That's the question raised by a bill (SB 157) currently under consideration by the NH Senate Education Committee, which would add achieving a passing grade (60% or higher) on the citizenship exam to the state's existing civics curriculum mandate. With the bill scheduled for a hearing on Tuesday, February 10th, The Live Free or Die Alliance (LFDA) put the issue to Facebook members on February 7th, and saw strong support for move as well as for strengthening the state's civics education in general. 

A 77% majority of those directly answering the question "Should passing the US Citizenship Civics test be a condition for high school graduation in NH?" were in favor of the change, with 23% against. Thirty-five percent opted not to give a yes or no response to the question, instead addressing their comments to broader issues. In sum, the LFDA received 162 specific comments and 213 concurrences for a total of 375 citizen responses.  

Those in favor of requiring the Citizenship Test for graduation argued that the test would strengthen civics education in the state, which was vital for NH's youth to become informed and engaged citizens. "Knowing the basics about how our government works, whether it's rote memorization or not, is necessary to make informed decisions," one commenter said. "We need our children to understand how the government works so that we can get them involved, and so they can know what they are a part of," another argued. Others noted that the move might help solve the problem of low youth voter turnout. "Why vote when you can't understand how legislative or executive branches operate in our country?"

The majority of those opposed to the test requirement still expressed strong support for civics education in NH. "Civics should be taught all through school till it becomes a natural response that doesn't need to be tested," one poster said. "I like the idea of a state based requirement, but I'm against using a national test curriculum here," another said. "A change in the culture of how we teach the youth and what we teach them is a more permanent solution," one commenter argued. 

Many of those who did not give a yes or no response discussed whether alternatives to the Citizenship Test requirement might be preferable. "Perhaps change the requirement to passing a civic class rather than passing a specific test? The class should cover all the citizenship material but could get students actually involved in civic activity," one commenter suggested. "As somebody who had a robust civics class at my private high school I know the critical importance it can play in political understanding and engagement. However a test is a test and we need to be careful about additional testing, especially as memorizing facts does not equal civics understanding," another poster noted. 

Click here to see the full Facebook discussion of this question.

 

 

Comments

JBenson's picture
Jacquelyn Benson
- Kensington

Tue, 12/29/2015 - 9:18am

SB 157 (2015) was passed by the Senate, and more recently received an 'ought to pass' recommendation from the House Education Committee. However, the committee did amend the bill so that using the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service Test is no longer required, but optional, with schools additionally having the power to develop their own assessment meeting state-set standards. Passing the test is also no longer required for graduation, with students instead receiving a certificate of recognition. 

The amended bill will now need to receive a passing vote from the full House before returning to the Senate. 

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