Are we educating our children, and by extension our population, on the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights sufficiently enough to expect we will defend, uphold and preserve these doctrines as the underpinnings of our American cultural fabric? Certain trends might leave one to question. For example, a recent survey shows essentially half of the American public cannot name the freedoms protected in the First Amendment nor do they know how many Amendments constitute the Bill of Rights. Or, the brilliantly devised Electoral College which assures electoral balance between large states with large populations and smaller states with smaller populations, is considered no longer functional for our era according to several 2020 Democrat Presidential candidates to include Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and Robert O’Rourke. America is a constitutional republic yet many Democrats seek to eliminate the Electoral College in order to make America a “true democracy” whereby elections are won strictly by popular vote. If well being of the nation versus political expediency is the ultimate goal, then one must question how a large segment of our population has been educated.
This essay could occupy many more pages with examples of how Americans are voluntarily ceding freedoms set forth in our founding documents. Perhaps Americans have become too weary and are willing to relinquish the burden of responsibility and the weight of freedom for security and supervision. However, should that be the case, Americans should relinquish their freedoms from a position of academic, intellectual prowess. To lose freedom from a position of sloth, ignorance and apathy should be intolerable to a free people.
Eight states as of 2015, Arizona, Idaho, Louisiana, North Dakota, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah and Wisconsin passed legislation requiring school districts to offer civics testing as a requirement for graduation. The test is derived from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services exam. Encouraging the state or federal government to mandate testing is not consistent with conservative or libertarian principles. This idea perpetuates the widely detested practice of mandating high-stakes testing. These types of requirements add challenges for disadvantaged students. And in any case would such a move yield the desired result of educating our students more profoundly on America’s founding documents or simply fall into the teach-to-the-test abyss? Given these considerations, should Pennsylvania consider joining eight other states in mandating a civics test based on the USCIS? If not, what then shall we do to ensure that Pennsylvanian students are properly educated on the ideas that will keep America America? Should we fail to succeed in this endeavor, the US Constitution could well find itself on the chopping block behind the Electoral College.