- Associated Press - Sunday, September 21, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Do you know that the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution are called the Bill or Rights?

Do you know the House of Representatives has 435 voting members?

Two Republican state lawmakers want the Utah Legislature to pass a law to require high school students to learn more about how American government works before they graduate.

Rep. Steve Eliason of Sandy tells the Salt Lake Tribune (https://bit.ly/1p8ze2u ) that he and Sen. Howard Stephenson of Draper plan to sponsor measures to boost civics education.

“As we push for science, technology, engineering and math and a lot of other important topics,” Eliason said, “unfortunately, civics education has kind of fallen through the cracks.”

The effort is part of a push in seven states sponsored by the Joe Foss Initiative, an Arizona-based nonprofit that promotes teaching about public service and patriotism. Officials in Arizona, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina and South Dakota also announced plans Wednesday for civics legislation.

Backers say they want all 50 states to pass similar laws by the 230th anniversary of the Constitution in September 2017.

The initiative’s national board of directors includes former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, journalist Carl Bernstein and actor Joe Mantegna.

Eliason said he doesn’t expect a requirement to cost the state any additional money because the tests and study materials have already been developed.

The 100 questions range from basic more difficult.

One asks the name of the current U.S. president.

Another asks how many amendments the Constitution has. (There are 27, including the 18th which prohibited making and selling alcohol, and the 21st, which repealed it).

Students would have to answer 60 questions correctly to get a diploma. Schools would decide how to administer the test and students would likely be allowed to take it as many times as necessary to pass. Questions and answers all are available online.

East High School parent Marty deLannoy told the Tribune that he had no problem with such a “basic civics” requirement.

“They should know those things, and if they don’t, there’s a problem,” he said. “There’s got to be accountability.”

Jonathan Johnson, co-chairman of the Utah Civics Education Initiative and Overstock.com’s board chairman, said a lack of civics knowledge poses a troubling problem for democracy.

“When citizens don’t understand how basic American civics work, how government works or who we are as a nation, they’re not likely to vote and they’re not likely to take part in policy decisions that affect our cities, our states and our country today,” he said.


Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune, https://www.sltrib.com

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