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House passes Civics Test Bill

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Legal residents seeking US citizenship have to pass a test in order to become citizens. On Tuesday, April 18, 2017, the Alabama House of Representatives passed a bill to require that Alabama students pass a similar test in order to become Alabama High School graduates.

Senate Bill 32 by state Senator Arthur Orr (R-Decatur) would require that students pass a civics test. SB32 was carried in the Alabama House by state Representative Terri Collins (R-Decatur).

Rep. Collins said, “Last fall I was reading from Governing Magazine and learned,” that most Americans can not correctly name the three branches of government. We have brought this bill to teach citizens to be better citizens.

Collins said that the civics test is based on the test for naturalization. Students would have to pass a 60 multiple choice test to in order to graduate. Students would be allowed to take the test as many times as needed in order to pass. Exceptions would be made at the principal’s discretion for special ed. students and students who can’t pass the test but who pass the government class.

State Representative Laura Hall (D-Huntsville) asked, “Why do we need this?”

Rep. Collins answered, “We need to do everything we can to help our students and citizens be better citizens.”

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Hall said that there are people all over who thinks that I am in Congress; but was worried about bringing one more hurdle in order for students to finish school and get a diploma.

State Representative Thomas Jackson (D-Thomasville) said, “We have better things to do than to be telling school boards what to do.”

Rep. Collins said, “I learned a lot just taking the test.”

State Representative Artis “A.J.” McCampbell said, “My biggest issue is the additional testing of our students. I do have a problem with the additional requirements to get out of high school.

State Representative Margie Wilcox (R-Mobile) said, “This is a great bill and I appreciate you bringing it.”

State Representative John Rogers (D-Birmingham) said, “Students are inundated with tests. I talked with some educators and they said we don’t need no more tests. I live in the Hood. When these kids drop out they don’t go back and they go downhill from that point. If you put one more barrier for these kids you will create a barrier and that barrier grows. These kids join gangs.”

Rep. Rogers said that when you bring a bill like this, “You don’t think about the ramifications. We need to get rid of a lot of the tests that we have now. If they went to four years of high school education that should be enough. You are dooming a whole bunch of kids to failure. You have good intentions but the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.”

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State Representative Arnold Mooney (R-Indian Springs) said, “The Civics exam is something everyone should know.”

State Representative Paul Lee (R-Dothan) said, “I think it is a good bill. Sometimes the teachers need to hear a little encouragement to teach this. I think our state will be a better place because of this.”

Collins said, “I have had good feedback from teachers.”

State Representative Mary Moore (D-Birmingham) said, “I think it is very asinine. This does absolutely nothing. The amount and number of testing we require our children to do is more than anyone in the civilized world.”

Rep. Hall suggested that this was “just flag waving” and motioned to pass an amendment to require all of the legislators to pass the test before the test could be administered to students.

That amendment was tabled at the urging of Collins.

State Representative Tim Wadsworth (R-Arley) said that this is a very good bill I thank you for bringing it.”

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State Representative Alvin Holmes (D-Montgomery) started asking Collins questions about civics and Alabama History and then called the members of the House “ignorant” for calling out answers.

Speaker Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia) told Holmes, “There is no sense in calling other members ‘ignorant’”.

The bill passed and now goes to Governor Ivey.


Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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