Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The new Citizens know more about America

The new Citizenship test for those resident aliens who want to become American citizens took affect October 1st. This new test does not test the applicant's memorization prowess as the old one did requiring knowledge of dates and facts, but looks to help assimilate the applicant into American political culture with the emphasis on American values, the rights and responsibilities of citizenship and the fundamental concepts of American democracy.

In today's NYT's Bob Herbert* writes about asking a high student "who the vice president of the United States was." The student had no idea. While I have no idea if this student was a born in America American, I do know that many of our high school graduates can not pass the citizenship test. I give a version in my American National Government classes at the beginning of each semester, not more than 2 students (out of 20-25) in each class pass.
These are some basic facts that all Americans should know. Question 14 on the flashcards** asks for the name of the Vice president.
Question 75 on the flashcards "Whose rights are covered by the Constitution" has as its answer: "All people living in the United States." I am so tempted to send copy of this card to the president, the vice president, the acting attorney general, the director of homeland security and the Supreme Court justices...and maybe to all members of Congress.

What does it say when Americans do not know as much about their country as those applying for citizenship?

Study materials:
**The flash cards:


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