PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Civics, the basics of American government and history, should be a requirement for high school graduation, says Pennsylvania Rep. Bill Kortz, a Dravosburg Democrat.
“This bill would ensure that our students be taught basic civics in our school,” Kortz testified on Monday before a committee hearing in Harrisburg.
“We need to do this so they can understand our nation, our government, to understand our representative republic so that they can be better prepared to be engaged as citizens.”
To do that without costing school districts or taxpayers any money at all, Kortz wants high school students to take and pass the same online civics exam that immigrants must pass to become U.S. citizens.
Under this proposed bill, high school students could take this exam at home online at any time, and they could take it as many times as they needed to until they passed 60 percent of the 100 questions.
It’s a nationwide effort called the Civics Education Initiative led in part by CBS’ Criminal Minds actor Joe Montegna.
“Unfortunately, too few students are learning basic civics,” says Montegna. “That’s why we need to pass the Civics Education Initiative in all 50 states.”
Fourteen states have passed the initiative, while 26 other states, including Pennsylvania, may consider the measure in 2017.
The questions are pretty basic, like who was the father of our country, or in what month do we vote for president?
Most people liked the idea.
“I think it’s really important for everyone to understand government and American history,” says Alexis Sherman of Mt. Lebanon.
“A lot of our youth don’t know about politics. They don’t know why they should vote actually,” adds Melvin Maxwell of McKees Rocks.
“We all should know more. For whatever reason, there seems to be a lack of it in our country. So, yeah, I think it’s a good thing,” says Chris Sherwin of Cranberry.
At the moment, says Kortz, the PSEA teachers union opposes the bill as an unfunded mandate, while civics and veterans groups support it.
Kortz says he’s modifying the bill to win everyone’s support.
If you would like to try taking the test, visit this link.