College students may have to pass a test or class with questions similar to United States Citizenship and Immigration test in order to graduate.
The Missouri Higher Education Civics Achievement Initiative is composed of 50-100 questions relating to the United States Government, Missouri history and American history. This bill, known as House Bill 1528, has been proposed by Republican House Representative Dean Dohrman as an extension of the Civics Education Initiative, a civics test given in high school.
“The statute itself is rather broad in the way it’s written and the department of higher education has an agreement as to what that will entail to meet that requirement. This just puts a little bit better framework around it. It’s not really a new requirement. It’s just a more clear cut requirement for the future,” Dohrman said.
Students would have to prove they are “proficient” in these areas to pass the class in order to produce more informed citizens in the future, according to Dohrman.
“It never hurts to have more study in a subject. I hope to produce more and better citizens in the future,” Dohrman said. “It’s not that we are doing a bad job [educating students], it’s just that there is always room for improvement. The more we know hopefully the more we will be engaged in our government whether it’s the presidential election or local city council or a bond issue for school.”
Department Chairperson of Political Science and professor at Missouri Western Edwin Taylor agrees more citizens should be involved in government and be informed, but doesn’t think this is the way to do it.
“I think it’s redundant because we teach American Government and American History, which is basically what is covered on those quizzes. So I think it is an extra requirement that students shouldn’t have to do because you’re going to have to pass American government and American history anyway at some point,” Taylor said.
Libbey O’Gorman is a student on campus.
“Why? It seems really necessary,” O’Gorman said. “We’ve already been in school so many years of our lives and to have to take another thing just to get out of it. It seems like a scam to get more of our money honestly.”
According to a phone study conducted by the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania of over a thousand, 26 percent of people surveyed could name all three branches of United State Government. Dohrman said hopefully this bill will change this.
“I’m not blaming anyone. I just think if we can get a better understanding of what’s going on, that you can be involved in your government. That you can make a difference, then people will be more likely to vote,” Dohrman said.
House Bill 1528 formally stated it would require students to pass by 70 percent but a house committee substitute adding a new section to the bill to require students to pass with proficiency instead and allowing online testing as an option for some students.