Requiring students to take naturalization test reasonable enough

Monday, April 2, 2018

Who is your U.S. Representative?

Name three of the original 13 states.

Who is in charge of the Executive Branch of the U.S. government?

How many of those questions, part of a test for immigrants who wish to be naturalized, could you answer? How many could your friends answer?

Enough Nebraska lawmakers thought such basic knowledge was important that they went over the heads of the Education Committee to move a proposal to the floor of the Legislature for a vote.

Sen. Lydia Brasch of Bancroft introduced the measure, which isn’t as severe as it first sounds.

Passing the 100-question naturalization test wouldn’t be a requirement for graduation in Nebraska, but it would be required to be given to students, with results passed on to the state.

The bill puts Nebraska on track to join 15 other states that have enacted similar legislation, according to the Civics Education Initiative.

It also updates a McCarthy-era law requiring schools to have an Americanism Committee to meet regularly to review social studies courses.

Like Sen. Steve Halloran of Hastings, the topic made us think of late-night talk show like Jimmy Kimmel’s “Lie Witness News” segments.

To be fair to the “victims” on the street, not many of us can think straight with a TV camera pointed in our face.

But it’s amazing so many of us have so little basic civic knowledge.

“There nothing funny about graduated students or adults not having a fundamental understanding or knowledge about our government and how it's been created and how it's supposed to function," Halloran said.

Political knowledge comes into play as well when one discovers the makeup of the Education Committee which failed to advance the bill. Unlike other Republican-dominated committees in the officially nonpartisan Unicameral, the Education Committee includes four Democrats, three Republicans and one Libertarian.

Legislators voted 27-13 to override the committee and advance the bill to the floor, where there’s no assurance that it will make it to Gov. Ricketts’ desk.

Anything that adds to the basic civic knowledge of future Nebraska voters, however, seems reasonable enough.

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