Arizona is the first of 18 states to pass a new civics test requirement for graduation. 18 other states including North Dakota and Utah are also considering passing the new senior requirement. The vote was hailed as a show of bipartisan support to “lead the way to the passage of the Civics Education Initiative in every state.” According to Frank Riggs of the Joe Foss Institute. The test seniors in Arizona are now required to pass to graduate are the 100 questions from the United States Citizenship Test.
What is the Joe Foss Institute? It is a think tank on a mission to address the “crisis in civic education” that Saint Ronald Reagan himself claimed exists in the United States. Founded by World War II veteran Joe Foss, The Institute is “stepping into that educational gap” by providing scholarship and education programs, because “fewer and fewer are teaching civics in any sort of substantial way.” This will more than likely come as a shock to the many Social Studies teachers in the country who teach civics classes every day.
The Joe Foss Institute’s website features a smiling image of Jay Leno in the banner. He’s performing at the Marriott Camelback Resort in Scottsdale on April 19, as part of a show entitled “Stars in Service.” Another celebrity involved in the institute is Sarah Palin. In a Facebook post dated October 4, 2010, she talks about Todd attending a pheasant hunt fundraiser in Pierre, South Dakota:
Last week, Todd flew to Pierre, SD, as a guest at the Joe Foss Institute and attended their annual pheasant hunt fundraiser. While meeting some great patriots from all across the country, Todd received a quick shooting pointer from Didi Foss, the wife of World War II fighter pilot, Medal of Honor recipient, and South Dakota hero, Joe Foss. Then he picked up critical “tactical field instruction” from General Walter Boomer, USMC (ret) and LTG Jerry Boykin, USA (ret), which I’m told dramatically improved his ability to stalk the feathered beasts. The Joe Foss Institute’s mission is “to teach youth patriotism, integrity, public service and the significance of America’s freedoms.” The Institute makes an impact by using veterans to take its message into classrooms, assemblies, and now into year-round camps through its new partnerships with the Boy Scouts of America and the Salvation Army.
This new civics test requirement being pushed in all 50 states is beginning to make sense. It’s got tea party all over it. No Social Studies teacher will argue against providing more civics education for students, but making seniors take another test is not going to make them better citizens. There are great Social Studies teachers out there, it’s nice that the Joe Foss Institute admits that, but they need to look at the whole picture. We have states rewriting education textbooks claiming Moses wrote the US Constitution, that the Founding Fathers were all evangelical Christians, and eliminating whole segments of history because they don’t fit with the conservative revisionist narrative. Teachers come under fire for teaching historical fact as well as not teaching historical myth. Once again, the tea party thinks they have the answer without even trying to understand the problem. Another test will not make people better citizens.