Here is a story that relates to my last post.

We the pupils: More states teaching founding US documents

NORTH SMITHFIELD, R.I. (AP) — Should U.S. high school students know at least as much about the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Federalist papers as immigrants passing a citizenship test?

In a growing number of school systems, having such a basic knowledge is now a graduation requirement. But states are taking different approaches to combating what’s seen as a widespread lack of knowledge about how government works. (continued here)

If you are gullible enough, this sounds like great news.  It is not. What is happening is that our state legislators would have us believe that they can test quality into a failing product. Doesn’t work that way.  For example, do you want a car that was correctly designed and built on a properly designed assembly line, or do you want a car that passed some sort of test after 400 others were rejected for defects?

What else is wrong with this stupid idea?

  • People raised in this country should be able to set the standard for what a new citizen is supposed to know about citizenship. It is absurd to look for new citizens to set the standard for the rest of us.
  • If we use the American citizenship test to set the standard for basic knowledge of U.S. Government, then whoever writes that test determines what our children will learn.  Isn’t that kind of like having a fox guard the henhouse?

Anyway, if anyone is interested, here is a sample test: 100 Civics Questions and Answers with MP3 Audio (English version). Of course, even though a new citizen is supposed to speak English……



  1. @Stephen

    What my post points out is the subject of the post. We cannot test quality into a product. Private businesses go out of business when they try to do such things. Pointing to the crisis (the one they created, but won’t take responsibility for creating) politicians just raises taxes and spends more money.

    Is education a right? Yes, of course. To the extent we don’t want to educate our children ourselves, we have the right to pay to have someone else to do it.

    Is knowledge a commodity? Yes. Nobody has to commodify knowledge. It already is a commodity. We pay for information all the time. If nothing else, we pay the price of allowing ourselves to be exposed to commercials.

    What about Truth? The Truth is God. He wants us to seek Him, and we each have the right to seek Him. Getting government involved in religious matters is just asking for trouble.

    What you call the New Law is Utopian nonsense. None of us have the right impose our own values on the rest of society. Making it sound beautiful and creating rights that don’t exist has fooled people into accepting such notions. Generally, we call such notions, what you want, Socialism, but Socialism has never worked. The reason? Redistributing the wealth is just of way of stealing. Crooks do a lousy job of governing.

    Because access to other people’s money seems so convenient, we overlook the fact that the majority has no more right to steal than does the minority. Government theft may be legal, but it is still stealing.

    Because even bad government is better than no government, I am not in rebellion. To reduce the power of government, I advocate things like school vouchers. I don’t consider school vouchers ethical either, but school vouchers are a lesser evil than government-run schools.

    Lots of parents send their children to private schools or homeschool them themselves. Both options are expensive, particularly given the temptation of free public schools. Hence I sympathize with those parents who fail to resist that temptation. You don’t? Well, you have your agenda, and I have mine.

  2. So schools should not teach basic civics because basic civics are too basic? Among the assumptions made, the most absurd has to be the fox-hen house one. It is assumed on dogmatic faith that there will be a government conspiracy to manipulate civics tests to brainwash students.

    Furthermore, it is not absurd for people who are only citizens via the accident of birth to gain privileges when those who actually work to be citizens end up knowing more about how the government works and was founded.

    Another assumption contrary to the facts of the cited article is that the reforms only involve a test and not a change in curriculum to prepare students for that test. In reality, as evidenced by the story cited, the car in the analogy would a newer model that is correcting a flaw, not keeping the flaw and testing it.

    1. @Stephen

      You want to take silly potshots at my posts? Well, so long as I welcome comments, I guess you can.

      Instead of defending what I said, I will just ask you a question. Why does the government have to run our education system? Most people trust politicians less that they trust used car salesmen. So why are we putting people we don’t trust in charge of educating our children?

      I assume you think children have the right to an education at the public’s expense. That is not how I define rights, but let assume they do. What is wrong with giving parents education vouchers that parents can use at the private school of their choice? Why do politicians have to choose the educational content and the teachers?

      1. It wasn’t clear what you are arguing.

        Education, for centuries of human history, was always considered a matter of course. Our ancestors, especially the Stoics and the descendants, did not consider education to be a commodity but a matter of natural right. All men have the right to know the truth. To commodify education is to commodify the truth and what is means to be human.

        The New Law is not a law of Retributive Justice, but of Restorative Justice with three dimensions: commutative, distributive, and social. The disytributive aspect is what is at issue. Distributive justice requires that the allocation of income, wealth, and power in society be evaluated in light of its effects on persons whose basic material needs are unmet. All men of every race, condition and age, since they enjoy the dignity of a human being, have an inalienable right to an education that is in keeping with their ultimate goal, their ability, their sex, and the culture and tradition of their country, and also in harmony with their fraternal association with other peoples in the fostering of true unity and peace on earth. For a true education aims at the formation of the human person in the pursuit of his ultimate end and of the good of the societies of which, as man, he is a member, and in whose obligations, as an adult, he will share. Therefore, to deny someone an education is to deny one the knowledge and ability to know themselves and be properly formed as a human being.

        Children have a right to education and parents have the responsibility to them to educate them. The school voucher system seems good, but the law of unintended consequences is often an issue. I have seen such systems be abused frequently and so, though I am inclined to favor them, I am wary of their demonstrated effects on state economies and the poor.

        Whether there is public education or not, parents do not surrender their responsibility, but merely outsource a portion. Whatever cirrculum the state decides should be largely irrelevant to the parent as they should be taking an active role in the education of their child. Hence why I am increasingly unsympathetic to the cries of conservatives who claim that schools are liberalizing their children. If the school has that much influence, then those people are just bad parents, plain and simple. They are simply trying to outsource blame for their own sin, which is ironic coming from some many who yammer about personal responsibility.

        But again we return to your admonishment of making civics tests in high school equal to the rigor of those taken by new citizens. If parents are concerned this is not satisfactory, then they should instruct their children in the way they should go or, and this is key, petition their lawmakers.

  3. Tom,

    I read the test up to 12 and then stopped because it is silly to read on. Why?

    Because of the news reports that State governors and Mayors refuse to cooperate with Federal Government and pass laws to legalize pot and not cooperate with ICE.

    Maybe the test should be given to politicians before they run for office and if they fail, they are disqualified.

    This Country, I am sad to say is not what our founder’s laws were meant to make people laugh.

    When an immigrant studies for this test and then turns on the news, does he or she laugh too, I wonder. Sad.

    Regards and goodwill blogging.

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