The New Hampshire House just advanced a bill that would require college students to pass the civics naturalization test as part of their diploma requirements. A similar bill recently passed the New Hampshire House requiring this of High School students too.
This test is typically given to immigrants wishing to become citizens of the United States. The test includes important questions about the American government and history that everyone should know.
NH House Rep. Doug Ley, representing Jaffrey, Cheshire District 9 is the latest example of NH Reps who are advocating for illiteracy in civics, and that’s odd. Rep. Ley also serves on the House Education Committee which makes his statement and votes even more concerning.
“Let’s face it: Is knowing why Dwight Eisenhower was famous, or being able to name five of the 13 colonies, is that knowledge really important to students’ lives today?” asked state Rep. Douglas Ley, a Jaffrey Democrat. “We have a thing called the internet: Look it up.”
Ley, who is also president of the American Federation of Teachers union (in NH), said he was concerned that requiring the test would not improve civics knowledge, but instead, trivialize it.
While many of us are fighting to make our public schools the best in the country, we have State Representatives advocating for illiteracy in this important subject.
Right now, we are engaged in a public debate on issues like racism. One of the factors in that debate includes teaching history that has been left out of the classroom.
As an advocate for literacy in the core subjects, I side with those who want our kids to learn authentic history. Why? Because that’s how we avoid the mistakes from the past.
It’s also important that children know that Africans were also the first to domesticate sheep, goats, and cows in addition to developing the idea of a trial by jury. That kind of knowledge can help all children of African descent know their history and be able to see themselves doing something important in their lives too.
Expecting children to go look up civics on the internet in order to learn this important academic content in the classroom, is an outrageous statement that not only has the potential to hurt students, but it will also hurt our public schools and colleges too.
In a time when public schools are struggling to keep parents from removing their children, this is when we need to support public education.
This is not the first time I have heard a State Representative say something this outrageous. Mel Myler (Democrat) who represents Hopkinton and Concord, made the same statement at a public hearing several years ago. Both of these Representatives have served as Teacher Union Representatives. How can anyone who has represented the hardworking teachers in New Hampshire make such a statement like that? A well-educated teacher teaching good quality academic content in the classroom can be a recipe for success.
Do we want our doctors to “look it up on the internet” when they have to perform a medical procedure? Especially given the amount of misinformation that is out there?
Both of these men have extensive backgrounds so it’s surprising that with the kind of knowledge they possess, they wouldn’t advocate for the importance of having our children learn and know basic civics.
It is up to parents to fight for their children and their public schools. That starts by electing individuals who share their views on public education. That begins with advocating for literacy in the core academic subjects. When individuals are literate they have the power to lift themselves out of poverty, lower health care costs, find and keep stable jobs, and change their lives for the better.
Pay close attention to what your elected officials are saying. Are they trying to help your children and your public schools or are they ok with dumbing them down because they can go look up information on the internet?