citizenship test
A reader writes that legislators should focus on educating themselves about the state and U.S. constitutions. (U.S. National Archives and Records Administration)

To the editors,

As a public educator, I am really annoyed by HB 2030, proposed by Rep. Terry O’Donnell (R-Catoosa), which would require high school students to pass a citizenship test in order to graduate.

High school students are already required to pass U.S. history (with a state test) and a U.S. government class. Presumably they would know everything on the proposed citizenship test. Let’s not waste money and valuable instructional time giving another meaningless standardized test.

Now, if the bill were amended to require legislators and politicians to pass a citizenship test in order to hold office, I would fully support it. If you added a required course on the U.S. and state constitutions, I would actively campaign to get it passed.

Here is a quick list of civics slip-ups state and national lawmakers have made over the years and some legislation they have proposed that was deemed unconstitutional:

  • The Ten Commandments monument on the Oklahoma State Capitol grounds;
  • HB 1970, which banned all medication abortions;
  • A 2009 law that bundled together several abortion restrictions, violating a constitutional requirement that laws cover a single subject;
  • SB 608, which attempted to impose distribution requirements on liquor manufacturers;
  • HB 1603, a tort reform measure that violated the state constitution’s single-subject rule;
  • SB 845, which tried to claim a cigarette tax that passed without a constitutionally required three-fourths majority was a “cigarette fee”;
  • A cap on recoverable noneconomic damages in personal-injury cases, which was rejected by the Oklahoma Supreme Court in 2019;
  • U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene didn’t know that Guam is a U.S. territory;
  • U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville misidentified the three branches of government, claimed World War II was a battle against socialism and said former Vice President Al Gore was President-elect for 30 days.

I found all of these examples after a 20-minute online search. I can only imagine what else is out there. Legislators would be better served by educating themselves and leaving high school students alone.

Hilary Cowen

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