South Dakota Civics Education Initiative Unveiled to Promote Active and Engaged Citizenship


September 17, 2014 Contact: Camille Anderson


South Dakota 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, Award-Winning Actor Joe Mantegna

SIOUX FALLS – Honoring the anniversary of United States Constitution, signed on this date in 1787, former President & CEO of Citibank, South Dakota Ron Williamson and his fellow

Co-Chairs former Congresswoman Stephanie Herseth Sandlin; former Sioux Falls Mayor Dave Munson; Carol Twedt, former educator & Minnehaha County Commissioner; Tim Dougherty, Sioux Falls attorney; and Dave Landry, Co-founder Honor Flight South Dakota, today announced the South Dakota Civics Education Initiative. This state legislative effort aims to ensure all South Dakota high school graduates have a basic understanding of American civics and history.

“Studies show that only about one-third of Americans can name the three branches of the United States government or the number of Senators in the U.S. Senate,” said Ron Williamson, former President & CEO of Citibank, South Dakota. “When citizens don’t understand our government or how it works, they’re not likely to vote or participate in our democracy – which is a critical problem that must be addressed.”

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.

The South Dakota Civics Education Initiative will promote an active and engaged citizenry by requiring that all 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 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?

Six other states are announcing similar state legislative efforts today including Arizona, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Missouri 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. (National Board Video Message)

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.comor 801-874-6497.


2015-01-12T15:48:03+00:00September 17th, 2014|