Proof of Low Expectations: Civics Test is “Dangerous?!”

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The leadership in the GOP-dominated Wisconsin legislature has pushed forward a measure (AB 194) that would require high schools in the state to administer a civics test before handing them a diploma. The tests most often proposed are 100 questions long, and are virtually identical to tests taken by immigrants pursuing citizenship. The proposal was pushed forward by Rep. James Edming.

The horror!

testEducation groups are aghast. No, petrified. They’re lobbying against such draconian expectations as though it is dangerous to our education system. Requiring a score of at least 60% of high school graduates  – who are given the freedom to vote, smoke, drive cars, get married, have children, buy homes and perform jobs, often while juggling intense college studies three months later – is considered unreasonable to them.
Some groups are not that surprising. WEAC, Wisconsin Association of School Boards and other status-quo organizations always seem, for whatever reason, opposed to changing a failing system. But even School Choice Wisconsin registered “opposed” to this legislation.


The test is mostly made of questions you’d expect most people to understand, while others are a bit more challenging. See if you could pass THESE.

A few of them:

  • What is the supreme law of the land?
  • The idea of self-government is in the first three words of the constitution. What are they?
  • What are two rights declared in the Declaration of Independence?
  • What is “the rule of law?”
  • Under our constitution, some powers belong to the states. What is one power?
  • What is the economic system of the United States?

Oh wait, perhaps its questions like those last two that have progressives everywhere frantically reaching for procedural violations to halt this moving forward. Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC) is steadfastly opposed – what a shock. President Betsy Kippers registered to speak against it at the public hearing.

She declared it to be “dangerous,” and asked “what purpose does it serve?” Really, Betsy? What purpose does it serve to understand at least SIXTY PERCENT of what it means to be an American citizen?! What kind of teacher are you?!

The Wisconsin Association of School Boards submitted testimony, saying “Wisconsin has never required a test in order to graduate.” Yes, you read that correctly. So, it is considered a terrible thing to actually do so.

Confused yet? There’s more.

Alan Borsuk, senior fellow in law and public policy at Marquette University Law School acted shocked that such expectations may be had of our budding foundation of society: “As much as any of us would like students to know about American government, would you want to stop someone from going to college or getting a job because they didn’t have a diploma due to a shaky grasp on the Constitution?”

Why, yes, Alan, I would.

Is it too much to ask that someone engaging in every aspect of society, creating families, affecting elections, paying or enjoying the fruits of taxation and helping to build America understand the very reason these things exist and how to handle them responsibly? Expecting them to understand what the “rule of law” is can be too demanding?

What next are you removing from graduation requirements in order to just give them that diploma?


Of course, most parents, conservatives, liberals, apolitical folks will agree that just throwing another test into the mix is not a solution to fixing our broken system. As it is, the federal government has passed numerous laws, with no constitutional basis, requiring constant testing of students, and many of these same opponents accept these tests with bribes of funding.

Fascinatingly, in their submitted testimony, nearly every opposing group cited the lack of “funding.” Coincidence? Buy them off, and maybe they’ll fall in line. For a test requiring a basic understand of how to live and operate in a free and open society.

American schools are lagging in the world, and most “experts” seem to be lost as to how to fix it. Most of the institutional leaders are out of ideas, and the majority of reformers seem to be happier adding a new idea rather than throwing out the bad ones.

People always respond to the expectations placed upon them. Whether it’s a soccer team, sales group, college class or even your own children, the lines of defined excellence result in exactly how far participants are able and willing to grow.

The proof of why America is failing is evident in this latest battle. A civil war over civic testing. It’s disgusting to me that we have educators in charge of the education of nearly 900,000 children in our state are knee-jerk to the idea of such basic knowledge.

After seeing all this opposition to common sense, I’ve been asking, “who dropped ya’ll on your head?” This is fundamental to being a mature adult. Pass AB194, and expect kids to know the basics of American life. It’s not rocket science.



An abridged version of the US Civics Test can be found HERE. The US Immigration Service quiz is HERE. Would you graduate?