OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A new bill that would require high school students to take the U.S. citizenship test to graduate high school passed through the Oklahoma State House of Representatives.
HB 2030 was authored by Republican Representative Terry O’Donnell, who says the idea for the bill came from a constituent.
O’Donnell was unavailable for an interview Tuesday morning, but posted a video to his Facebook explaining the bill.
He said, “That would provide a baseline information for students to know because if you don’t understand our democracy and where we’ve been and where we’re going, then you’re not going to have an appreciation for the freedoms and rights and responsibilities that we have here in the United States.”
Former high school teacher and now Democrat Representative Mickey Dollens says requiring another standardized test will not do teachers or students any favors.
“Do I think that students need a great foundation of civics? Absolutely, and if the curriculum could be improved, I’m all for that, but I don’t think adding an unfunded mandate to administer another standardized test is the way to go,” said Dollens.
Democrat Representative Emily Virgin also voted no on the bill. She posted this post on her Facebook, saying the requirement is hypocritical.
Dollens says he doesn’t know if the lawmakers could pass the test themselves.
“Do I think that the majority of the house of representatives could pass this test today? I could make no guarantees. I would surely hope so, but given the amount of unconstitutional bills that are passed through this chamber every year, I don’t think it’s lost on them that they are unconstitutional. I think at the end of the day, they want to use it as a political hit piece moving forward,” said Dollens.
Dollens also says the bill wasn’t well thought out because high school students will be required to take this test during their junior year but students aren’t taught civics or government curriculum until their senior year.
“I haven’t heard any principals or teachers or students who think this is a good idea,” said Dollens.
The bill still needs to go through the state’s senate before it could become law.