High school students would be required to pass the U.S. naturalization test to graduate, beginning in the 2022-2023 school year, under a bill passed out of the House Common Education Committee this week.
House Bill 2030 would help students become more engaged citizens, said its author, House Speaker Pro Tempore Terry O’Donnell, R-Catoosa.
“The vast majority of studies show that both students and adults in our country have an insufficient knowledge of our history and of our government system,” O’Donnell said. “This bill is designed to help remedy that. This is the same test we require of anyone coming to this country and seeking citizenship. I don’t think this is too much to ask of our students.”
O’Donnell said 14 other states have adopted legislation that requires high school students to pass the civics portion of the immigration and naturalization test. He said he thinks Oklahoma students would benefit from that as well, so they would have a better understanding of how their government works.
HB 2030 would require subject matter standards for history, social studies and U.S. government courses in Oklahoma public schools to include the study of important historical documents, including the Constitution, Declaration of Independence, Emancipation Proclamation and Federalist Papers. Subject matter standards for U.S. government also must include simulations of the democratic process and lessons on the structure and relationship between national, state, county and local governments.
O’Donnell said he has no doubt history, government and social studies teachers are doing their best to teach to state standards, but too many students are graduating without being able to answer questions about the founding of our nation or the current system of government. He said the added incentive of having to pass the naturalization test with at the bare minimum of a score of 60 in order to graduate is not too high of a bar for students being prepared to become voters, part of the nation’s work force and, perhaps, members of government bodies.
HB 2030 passed the House Common Education Committee with a vote of 11-3, meaning it now can move to the full House for consideration.