The Civics Education Initiative will introduce legislation in Arizona, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota and Utah to require students to take the test at any point during their high school careers, and to pass it before receiving a high school diploma or a general equivalency degree.
Public surveys show they have a long way to go. A 2011 survey by the Annenberg Public Policy Center found just 15 percent of Americans could correctly identify the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, John Roberts, while 27 percent knew Randy Jackson was a judge on American Idol. Only 13 percent knew the Constitution was signed in 1787. And just 38 percent were able to name all three branches of government.
In each of the seven states, CEI has prominent co-chairs who will back the legislation. Former senators Dennis DeConcini (D-Ariz.) and Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) will push legislation in Phoenix. Sen. Tom Coburn (R) is supporting the measure in his home state of Oklahoma. And former South Carolina governors Jim Edwards (R), Dick Riley (D) and Jim Hodges (D) will advocate for the test in Columbia.
Their goal: To implement similar requirements in every state by Sept. 17, 2017, the Constitution’s 230th birthday.
If they succeed, students graduating from high school will already know the answers to the three questions above: That John Jay, James Madison and Alexander Hamilton wrote the Federalist Papers, that there are nine members of the Supreme Court, and that the first 10 amendments are known as the Bill of Rights.
How would you do on the U.S. Citizenship Quiz? Test yourself here: