Tuesday, March 09, 2021

House passes bill to require passing citizenship test as graduation requirement, Dems oppose

Believe it or not, but I actually am sympathetic to the argument the House Dems make in their press release response to the passage of this bill. Read on:


O’Donnell Bill To Require Citizenship Test for Students Passes House

OKLAHOMA CITY – House Speaker Pro Tempore Terry O’Donnell, R-Catoosa, on Monday won passage of a bill in the House that would help students become more engaged citizens.

House Bill 2030 would require high school students to pass the civics portion of the United States’ naturalization test in order to graduate beginning in the 2022-23 school year.

“Unfortunately, too many of our students graduate high school without basic knowledge of how our nation was founded or how our system of government works,” O’Donnell said. “This legislation would help correct that, leading to a more engaged and informed electorate in the future.”

O’Donnell explained this is the same test required of anyone desiring to become a citizen of the United States. Fourteen other states have adopted similar legislation.

HB 2030 would require subject matter standards for history, social studies, and U.S. Government courses in Oklahoma public schools to include the study of important historical documents, including the Constitution, Declaration of Independence, Emancipation Proclamation, and Federalist Papers. Subject matter standards for U.S. Government also must include simulations of the democratic process and lessons on the structure and relationship between national, state, county and local governments.

O’Donnell said he too many students graduate without being able to answer basic questions such as how many branches of government exist in the United States or what actually is protected under the First Amendment to the Constitution. He said students would only have to achieve a bare minimum of a score of 60 in order to pass the test before graduation.

“That is not too high of a bar for young adults who will become part of our work force and our communities, and who will be future voters and perhaps even members of our government bodies,” O’Donnell said.

An amendment to the bill would exempt students that have an individualized education plan (IEP).

HB 2030 passed the House with a vote of 80-18. It now advances to the state Senate where it is authored by Sen. Adam Pugh, R-Edmond.  


House Democrats Oppose More Testing for High Schoolers

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Members of the House Democratic Caucus released the following statements today in opposition to House Bill 2030, which requires Oklahoma public school students to take a citizenship test before graduation.

"I’m not concerned about making Oklahoma students take the US Citizenship test,” said Rep. Andy Fugate, D-Del City. “But, the concerns expressed about people in Portland, Seattle, and Washington D.C. won’t be solved by making Oklahoma students take a test.

“Oklahomans deserve better than political posturing in the guise of pandering to patriotism.”

“I like the idea of our students taking the US Naturalization test as an assignment as a part of a unit when the content is delivered, traditionally in the 8th grade,” said Rep. Melissa Provenzano, D-Tulsa. “I can’t support making it a graduation requirement which only creates more unnecessary mandatory testing for our children. Oklahoma parents have spoken loud and clear- our kids have testing fatigue. Testing isn’t the only way to assess a child’s mastery of a subject.

“This bill is ill-conceived, loosely designed, and poorly executed. It will not turn out well for Oklahoma children if we adopt loose testing protocols, security, and implementation.”

“As a former 8th-grade public school history teacher, I can attest that teachers already cover in-depth what the U.S. Naturalization Test assesses,” said Rep. Jacob Rosecrants, D-Norman. “Further, as a believer in the importance of  hands-on kinesthetic learning, I know that children learn better by doing rather than by prepping for a one-time test, and if we really want our students to learn about civics on a deeper level, we should invest in civics curriculum that truly engages our children.”

“It is not our business to legislate standards, especially when we already have a civics curriculum,” said Rep. John Waldron, D-Tulsa. “Imposing test requirements that override the work of Oklahoma educators will not solve the problems we face. Students and teachers don’t need another mandate. They need a government that works for them. ”

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