HARRISBURG (June 30, 2017) – Bipartisan legislation to ensure that Pennsylvania high school students receive strong civics and American history education unanimously passed the Senate Education Committee this week.
Senate Bill 723, jointly sponsored by state Senators Andy Dinniman and John Rafferty, calls for high school students to take a test identical to the civics portion of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services’ naturalization test given to those seeking to become American citizens.
The test will be included in the civics curriculum and instruction to survey a student’s knowledge of the fundamentals of the history, principles, and form of the government of the United States.
“As we approach the 241st birthday of our nation, it is important to ensure that our young people know how our form of government came about and how it works,” Dinniman, who serves as minority chair of the Senate Education Committee, said. “These are basic principles regarding our rights, freedoms, and history that every American should know – which is why we’re making the test identical to the one given to naturalized citizens.”
“It appears to me that complaints about our government are at an all-time high, and yet understanding of our government is at an all-time low.” Rafferty, said, “This year marks the 230th anniversary of the Constitution, and we can think of no better time to ensure that students have at least a basic knowledge and understanding of civics and government in order to prepare and encourage them to be responsibly engaged citizens.”
Senate Bill 723 also calls for the results of the test to be reported to the Pennsylvania Department of Education annually to help inform and guide the overall state approach to social studies curriculum.
The bill now goes to the Senate floor for full consideration.
If passed, it is set to take effect beginning in the 2019-2020 school year