The House approved legislation, House Bill 564, authored by Rep. Karen Boback (Wyoming, Luzerne, Lackawana), requiring students to take a civics assessment before they graduate.
“I’m ecstatic this bill, after many years of hard work, is finally heading to the governor,” says Boback. “The need for increased civics education is warranted, given the astounding lack of proficiency in U.S. civics and government.”
According to national studies, only 24 percent of U.S. high school students are proficient in civics and a third of U.S. citizens cannot even name the three branches of government.
“As a mother, educator and a legislator, I believe we have a responsibility to ensure that young people become engaged and knowledgeable citizens,” Boback stated. “It is ironic that we require immigrants seeking U.S. citizenship to pass a civics exam, yet a majority of our students are not required to know the same basic information. I would like to thank the vast number of veterans’ organizations who publicly endorsed this bill.”
Just like the current social studies curriculum for state schools, teachers would be given maximum flexibility in implementing the test. The effort would require little to no implementation costs, as the civics tests and materials are already available for free online at https://www.uscis.gov/citizenship.
The bill now heads to the governor for his signature.