TOPEKA – (December 8, 2015) – Attorney General Derek Schmidt today asked the State Board of Education to integrate the naturalization test administered to all new U.S. citizens into civics education in Kansas.
“I sometimes reflect on how much we demand of those who wish to become American citizens by their own choice,” Schmidt said. “In many ways, it is more than we demand of those of us fortunate to have been born to citizenship. The nature of citizenship is not always fully understood or appreciated by those to whom it came without effort.”
Schmidt’s recommendation included two components: An incentive-based system that encourages schools to use administration of the naturalization test as a tool to promote civic learning and a renewed effort to encourage interaction and information exchange between students and Kansas civic leaders.
“These recommendations should be developed through collaboration between the Kansas Board of Education, educators, school administrators, Kansas Department of Education staff and other interested individuals and organizations throughout the state,” Schmidt said. “One natural starting place would be to integrate this sort of learning with the days on the calendar already set aside for interactive civics engagement by professional organizations and with the schools – Constitution Day (Sept. 17), Bill of Rights Day (Dec.15), Law Day (May 1) or the state-established Celebrate Freedom Week for example. The naturalization test can be the thread that ties together these various activities into a more cohesive and effective whole.”
Noting that there is a national movement to require administration of the naturalization exam, Schmidt said, “The concept that the country would be well-served by applying to all the same measure of basic civic knowledge we insist upon for new immigrants strikes me as eminently sensible. We should combat the natural human tendency to take for granted that which comes easily – such as citizenship for those of us born to it. A ready way to do so is to hold us to the same standard for knowledge as those who choose to join our citizenry. I would welcome the opportunity to work with interested parties to develop this concept.”
Attorney General Schmidt’s full remarks to the Board of Education can be found here: http://1.usa.gov/1m8ThmS .
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