Tim Slekar, dean of education at Edgewood College in Wisconsin, was outraged when he learned that the legislature passed a bill requiring all students to pass a civics test if they wanted to graduate from high school. His son will opt out of this test, and he urges other parents to do the same.

He writes:

Quick Fact. In the Spring, Representative James “Jimmy Boy” Edming slipped into the Wisconsin budget (without debate or public commentary) a provision that requires all students attending public schools to pass a Civics test in order to graduate from High School. According to Representative Edming it seemed like a”good idea” and would “help instill the responsibilities of citizenship.”

It’s now November and as a parent of a 10th-grade Wisconsin public school student I recently received a letter from my son’s school informing us that “successful completion of this exam will be required for graduation.”

Oh well what are you going to do?

I don’t know about all of you but as a social studies scholar and advocate for participatory citizenship I plan on challenging this disaster of a “good idea.”

Isn’t it amazing how legislators are so cavalier about writing laws telling schools and teachers how to do their job?

Here are Tim’s reasons for objecting to the mandated test as a graduation requirement:


It’s an exit exam for graduation and will have a detrimental influence on the graduation rate in Wisconsin.
He is already required to pass a civics course during his time in high school and I have faith in his teacher. She is best qualified and in the best position to assess my son’s knowledge of civics.
The civics test mandated is culturally insensitive and discriminatory.
This test actually diminishes civic participation.
This test will use valuable instruction time pushing a false patriotism at the expense of engaging experiences that motivate our students to become active citizens and critical “consumers” of political rhetoric.
It’s time to stop the mind numbing, skill and drill ethos that is destroying the potential of our children who overwhelmingly understand that the test and punish culture sucks the life out of their one chance to be educated.

Tim is willing to compromise. He will endorse the test requirement if the legislators who mandated it and other elected officials in the state also take it and publish their scores.

The people and the children of the state of Wisconsin have a right to know if their elected leaders are proficient in their knowledge of American Civics. And I do not want any excuses like “I already graduated from high school.” Too bad. If all of our children have to prove their civic competency by taking a high stakes test then so do our elected representatives.

I want to see Governor Scott Walker’s scores!