Civics Literacy 2.0

February 12, 2018 by  

Americans are civically illiterate. Here is what studies* confirm:

  • only 36% could name all three branches of government
  • 85% did not know the meaning of the “the rule of law.”
  • 82% could not name “two rights stated in the Declaration of Independence.”
  • 75% were not able to correctly answer “What does the judiciary branch do?”
  • 71% were unable to identify the Constitution as the “supreme law of the land.”
  • 68% did not know how many justices are on the Supreme Court.
  • 57% could not define an “amendment”
  • 63% could not name one of their two US Senators.
  • 8 in 10 cannot name even one of the federal government’ powers
  • 6% couldn’t even circle Independence Day on a calendar

It’s why in 2014 Arizona became the first state in the nation to pass the Civics Education Initiative – requiring high school students to pass the U.S. Citizenship Civics Test as a graduation requirement.  That was a good start but is it enough?  How can it be when a 2014 study found one in six Americans favored military rule over the government – up from 1 in 16 in 1995?

Enter SB 1473 – Civic Literacy 2.0: a State Seal of Civics Literacy Arizona high school students can earn when proficient in civics literacy that goes beyond the basics. -To earn the “seal”, students must demonstrate mastery of our country’s foundational history and its documents as well.

What’s more – it’s not a mandate on schools.  It’s voluntary.  It won’t cost the state or the school – but it is an achievement that will be recognized in a student’s transcript as well as on his/her high school diploma.

Most important, it’s learning that can help build an informed and responsible citizenry for generations.  In the Legislative process bills sometimes change and now SB 1473 will be my DCS “Rocket Docket bill” – addressing  permanency for drug-exposed newborns in foster care, but since the beginning I worked with Rep. Paul Boyer (House Education Chairman) on this issue and his companion bill, SB 2561 – exactly the same as mine – has made it all the way through both chambers and was signed into law.

It’s time to turn the tide – and teach our history – and our nation’s foundations of freedom.

*From Joe Foss Institute citing Newsweek – 2011; Center for the Study of the American Dream at Xavier University in Cincinnati – 2012; Annenberg Public Policy Center of the Univ. of PA – 2014;

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