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Legislators support requiring civic test to graduate high school

ST. PAUL -- Minnesota legislative leaders have found few areas of agreement since they convened the 2016 session Tuesday, but they do agree that Minnesota students should know basic civics before graduating from high school.Senate Majority Leader...

ST. PAUL - Minnesota legislative leaders have found few areas of agreement since they convened the 2016 session Tuesday, but they do agree that Minnesota students should know basic civics before graduating from high school.
Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, D-Cook, said he came to that conclusion after spending an hour with former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor in a small group. She promoted using the test that people must pass before becoming new citizens.
On a mission to increase civics education, O’Connor told the Bakk group that one question immigrants must answer before becoming citizens is what the stars on the U.S. flag mean (one for each state).
“If you don’t know that, you probably shouldn’t have a high school diploma,” Bakk said.
Other questions on the test include:
n What is the name of the president of the United States now?
n Name one branch or part of the government.
n What did Martin Luther King Jr. do?
n What major event happened on Sept. 11, 2001, in the United States?
Rep. Dean Urdahl, R-Grove City, and Sen. LeRoy Stumpf, D-Plummer, sponsor a bill to require that students pass the test before graduation.
“Unfortunately, over 200 years after the signing of the Constitution, many students in Minnesota and throughout the country don’t understand basic facts about our government, its creation or how it works,” House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, said.
Senate Minority Leader David Hann, R-Eden Prairie, said that the test is a first step to better understanding the “founding principles of our government.”
“By requiring all Minnesota students to pass a basic civics test we will be providing our children with vital information that they will draw upon in their adult lives and make critical decisions about the future of our nation, our state and our local communities,” added House Minority Leader Paul Thissen, D-Minneapolis.
Nine states have laws similar to the legislation being considered in Minnesota, including neighboring states of North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
Those seeking citizenship must get 60 percent of the questions correct.

Related Topics: EDUCATION
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