This week, I had the opportunity to invite to the state Capitol several people instrumental in the passage of a bill that will help ensure Oklahoma high school graduates are better informed about the function of our government and our nation’s history.
First was TJ McCormack, a constituent and requestor of House Bill 2030, which requires high school students to pass the U.S. Civics Test before graduation beginning in the 2022-23 school year. The test is the same one administered by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services that is required of anyone desiring to become a U.S. citizen. Fourteen other states have adopted similar legislation.
Marsheila Prior with City Elders and Susie McCleskey and John Guinn with the Convention of the States also attended the ceremonial signing of this important legislation.
Gov. Kevin Stitt signed this bill into law in April. It takes effect Nov. 1. The governor holds ceremonial bill signings each summer, however, to allow legislators the opportunity to invite constituents or others who were key to a bill to attend.
I was grateful to Mr. McCormack for approaching me with the idea for this legislation. I’m likewise thankful to the members of the Convention of the States with help on the language of the bill.
The young people in our country need to be grounded in the laws that govern our land, starting with the United States Constitution. They also need to understand what is included in other founding documents such as the Declaration of Independence, the Federalist Papers, the Emancipation Proclamation and others of historical significance. Too often, many adults in our nation can’t accurately cite facts from these sources or give details of how our government functions. This has led to some grave misunderstandings of what freedoms we do and do not enjoy in our nation and in our individual states.
HB 2030 will ensure the teaching of these historic documents as well as the structure and relationship of the national, state, county and local governments are included in history and U.S. Government courses in our public high schools. The bill also requires that beginning in the 2022-23 school year, graduates will need to score at least a 60 out of 100 on the U.S. Citizenship test. Students may take the test as many times as needed to pass, beginning as early as eighth grade. This is not too high a bar to require of those we expect to be leading us in the future. I have every confidence this will help us raise a more informed and engaged citizenry going forward.
Top Photo Identifications: (Left to right) House Speaker Charles McCall; Sen. Nathan Dahm; Sen. Adam Pugh; Marsheila Prior with City Elders; House Speaker Pro Tempore Terry O’Donnell; Gov. Kevin Stitt; Susie McCleskey with the Convention of the States; TJ McCormack, a constituent and requestor of the bill; John Guinn with the Convention of the States; and House Sr. Staff Attorney Erin Kennedy attend a ceremonial bill signing for O’Donnell’s House Bill 2030 in the Blue Room at the Oklahoma State Capitol.