Arizona Civics Education Initiative Unveiled to Promote Active and Engaged Citizenship
State Legislative Effort Supported By Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalist Carl Bernstein & Former U.S. Senators Dennis DeConcini & Jon Kyl
Phoenix, Arizona – Honoring the anniversary of the United States Constitution, signed on this date in 1787, former U.S. Senator Dennis DeConcini, former U.S. Senator Jon Kyl, and Representative Steve Montenegro announced the Arizona Civics Education Initiative. This state legislative effort aims to ensure all Arizona high school graduates have a basic understanding of United States civics and history.
According to the Pew Research Center, only about one-third of Americans can name the three branches of the United States government; much less say what each does. Further, studies of high school students in Oklahoma and Arizona showed less than a four percent passage rate on the Unites States Citizenship Civics test – the test all immigrants applying for U.S. citizenship must pass. According to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which administers the civics test as part of the naturalization process, 92 percent of immigrants who take the test pass it on their first try.
“Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor has termed this civics deficiency the ‘quiet crisis’ in education,” said Joe Foss Institute President & CEO Lucian Spataro, “I concur and believe if we don’t understand and exercise what makes us free and unique as a nation, we risk losing those freedoms.”
“There is a sad truth in our state and nation today – many U.S. citizens simply don’t have a basic understanding American civics, or the ideals of our great nation,” said former U.S. Senator Dennis DeConcini. “This critical problem must be addressed with a sense of urgency and the Civics Education Initiative is the common-sense first step in doing just that.”
The Arizona Civics Education Initiative will promote an active and engaged citizenry by requiring
that all Arizona high school students and those seeking general educational development equivalency (GED) pass the 100-question civics test administered by USCIS. The state legislation will allow students to take the test any time during their high school career, and to take the test as many times as necessary to pass.
By using the well-established USCIS test, there will be no need or expense to create a new test or study materials, as these materials are already available online and for free. The legislation will allow individual schools to administer the test in a way the school as deems adequate to meet the requirements.
“The success of our Republic depends on an informed and engaged citizenry” said former U.S. Senator Jon Kyl. “As Thomas Jefferson opined, ‘Whenever the people are well informed, they can be trusted with their own government.’ But when so few of our fellow Americans know how our government works, and even fewer choose to vote, is the American experiment of ‘We the People’ at risk?”
The USCIS Citizenship Civics test consists of 100 basic questions about American civics and history, such as:
What is the name of the President of the United States now?
Name one branch or part of the government.
What is the capital of your state?
What major event happened on September 11, 2001, in the United States?
To date the Initiative has seen broad support across the state. Co-Chairs of the Arizona Civics Education Initiative include: former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor; former U.S. Senator Dennis DeConcini; former U.S. Senator Jon Kyl; Norman McClelland, CEO, Shamrock Foods; Sandy Froman, Chairman, Civics Proficiency Institute; and Jim Chamberlain, CEO, Sun State Builders.
Six other states today are announcing similar state legislative efforts including Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota and Utah. The goal of the Civics Education Initiative is for every state in the nation to pass this legislation by September 17, 2017 – the 230th anniversary of the Constitution.
The Initiative’s national board of directors includes former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Carl Bernstein, and actor Joe Mantegna who has been nominated for both Golden Globe and Emmy awards.
The Civics Education Initiative is an affiliate of the Joe Foss Institute, which was founded to educate American youth on the importance of our country’s unique freedoms, and to inspire them to public service. Joe Foss was a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, former governor of South Dakota, and first commissioner of the American Football League.
For questions contact Camille Anderson at Camille@civicseducationinitiative.com or 801-874-6497.
To schedule interviews with Arizona Civics Education Initiative Co-Chairs, please contact Sam@CivicsEducationInitiative.com