Bill would require students to pass civics test to graduate

By: Sarah Wojcik | Shelby - Utica News | Published February 11, 2015

SHELBY TOWNSHIP — Currently, legislation is in place that mandates high school students take a civics or government course to graduate high school.

State Rep. Peter Lucido, R-Shelby Township, introduced House Bill 4136 Feb. 3 to take it further and require students to get at least 60 percent on a 10-question civics test to graduate high school.

Lucido said the test would draw questions at random from a 100-question test administered to those wishing to obtain citizenship in the U.S. The legislation would require the state Board of Education to include the requirement for graduation beginning in the 2016-17 school year.

“Naturalized citizens know less than immigrants,” he said. “We require immigrants to have a basic understanding and appreciation for American civics. Why should the threshold be any different for citizens who are lucky enough to be born in the United States?”

He said he hoped, if the bill passed, that requiring students to know more about government and history would encourage them to get more involved in elections.

“If students start to get excited and energized about their government, they’re going to want to come out and participate in the process, and we may end up having a better representation of the people, by the people,” he said.

Lucido said implementation of the test would not cost taxpayers money, as it has already been developed and is available online for free.

On Jan. 16, a similar bill in the state of Arizona passed to require high school students to pass a civics test with at least a D- in order to graduate. Lucido said 10 other states also were in the legislation process, so the concept was not new in the U.S.

“I was working on this before I got elected,” Lucido said.

The Michigan Department of Education declined to comment on the bill.

“We respectfully reserve comment on this bill, as it was just filed and we have no position on it,” MDE spokesperson Bill DiSessa wrote in an email to the Shelby-Utica News.

The Michigan Education Association and a Utica Community Schools’ union representative did not respond by press time.

For more information, call Lucido’s office in Lansing at (517) 373-0843.