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.  SB 1473 and its companion bill, SB 2561 passed Senate & House Education committees unanimously and are moving towards floor votes.

*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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