Civics testing in schools revisits Capitol - News, Weather and Sports for Lincoln, NE;

Civics testing in schools revisits Capitol

Civics testing in schools revisits Capitol

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What do we call the first 10 amendments to the constitution?

Who was the president during World War I?

How many U.S. senators are there?

These are some questions state senators Bob Krist and Lydia Brasch think every student should know the answers to before graduating.

Both introduced separate bills that would make Nebraska the 17th state requiring high school students to pass the same test immigrants have to pass before gaining citizenship to America.

"I believe that this is not a burdensome test,” Brasch said in front of the education committee Monday. “I believe every generation ahs gotten further and further away from our foundation as a country."

Brasch's proposal only mandates public school students pass the exam with at least a 70 percent.

Krist wants to change the current law by putting individual school boards in charge of finding the best way to teach students social studies starting in grade school.

In his proposal, every pupil in public, private, parochial, and denominational school would have to take some form of the civics exam before graduation.

Under this amendment, districts could require more testing topics, like Nebraska history.

"One of the basic problems in this state is Americanism is over here and social study standards are over here,” Krist said. “They need to come together and that's what this amendment does."

Krist's proposal has support from the Nebraska Department of Education and the Nebraska Association of School Boards.

Still, some senators think the decision should come from educators, not lawmakers.

"I’m troubled by the fact that we have to put statutes in place to have [schools] do what we think would normally be taught about America," Senator Steve Erdman, who sits on the education committee, said.

Current Elkhorn High School social studies teacher Abigail Whalen says it would be hard to fit a 100 question exam into her already packed curriculum.

"Setting aside an entire class period to do this in a whole, it takes a whole class period to answer 100 questions,” Whalen said, testifying in a neutral capacity Monday. “We have a lot to do, setting aside one class period is burdensome."

Both bills have to be approved in the education committee before advancing to the floor for debate.

Senator Krist also sponsored the same kind of bill last session. He says if his proposal doesn't make it through this session, it will be his priority bill next session.

Take a Civics exam here.

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