School Superintendent says Citizenship Test is Unfunded Mandate The Texas Legislature is within its powers to ask this small thing of our taxpayer-funded schools.

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May 8, 2017 No Comments ›› admin

By Lynn Woolley

Two school districts in Central Texas have opined on the idea of a citizenship test for graduating seniors – and the reactions could not have been more different. Belton School Superintendent Susan Kincannon is concerned, saying it’s just another unfunded mandate that would create extra work for the District.

Dr. Susan Kincannon (Photo: from Belton ISD website Courtesy of Jane Gibson Photography)

But in Temple, Lisa Adams, the executive director of secondary education, said her district would simply make the changes and move forward. Both women professed that the respective districts already teach civics – and that it is an important subject.

That’s good to hear.

We’ve called for more teaching of civics and citizenship for years. The Texas Legislature is within its powers to ask this small thing of our taxpayer-funded schools. It would be nice for highly paid school supers to comply with a commonsense test – and move forward.

What Superintendent Kincannon said.

She was quoted in the Temple Daily Telegram in an article by Mariel Williams that she has “concerns” about the bill:

“What it will do is create another unfunded mandate for school districts, who will need to review and potentially revise their curriculum, adjust instructional materials, purchase or create the electronic version of the test required by the law, etc.”

I thought that’s what school administrations do.

And compliance with law is an oft-used excuse for all manner of things that many taxpayers despise – such as accepting illegal alien children, and teaching them in their native languages at a huge cost.

Superintendent Kincannon had more to say:

“Understanding U.S. History is important to our community, and a foundational knowledge of civics is something that we already teach in a variety of ways. As a district, our objection to standardized tests has never been about the content of a specific test. Rather, we’re concerned about the State’s overreliance on standardizes testing to the exclusion of other measures of student success. Swapping one test for another won’t address that.”

If the Belton schools teach civics in a variety of ways I would love to know more about what they are. I had once civics class when I was in high school – and it wasn’t nearly enough to teach me about how government works.

I have called for more civics, citizenship, Constitution, and Western Civilization classes along with instruction on how to handle personal finances. To use a left-wing word, I “worry” that kids get through school with little instruction on what goes on at the State Capitol, or at City Hall, and not much on how to be a hood citizen and virtually nothing on how to manage money.

Teaching kids about American exceptionalism may be a pipe dream – but I assume some schools still do it.

What Lisa Adams said.  

Mrs. Lisa Adams, TISD
Executive Director of Secondary Education

The Temple schools seemed, in the article, to take the new bill in stride. Adams said, that if the Legislature mandates it, her district would just do it.

“We just make the changes and move forward. Next year, the English language arts standards are being re-worked or revised… This is kind of an ongoing process. We seek to teach citizenship in all of our social studies classes. We just have to respond appropriately so our students can be successful.”

Again, I’d glad to know that citizenship is being taught, although social studies classes would not be my referred venue. But consider this – if space aliens came to earth and read these quotes, which district would they want to put their little tentacled children in?

The citizenship test.

This is a simple test similar to what foreign nationals must pass in order to become U.S. citizens. You can look at a sample test here. Here is a sample question:

Under our Constitution, some powers belong to the federal government. What is one power of the federal government?

A. To issue drivers licenses
B. To declare war
C. To provide protection (police)
D. To provide schooling and education

Illustration by Jacob Villanueva / The Texas Tribune

Most Americans could nail this test easily – even if it wasn’t multiple choice.

It seems like school superintendents – who are paid employees of the taxpayers – could keep their opinions to themselves and do their jobs. They have been referred to in the media as “kings of their districts,” but they are not kings of the State of Texas.

With so many foreign students being taught in our local schools, a simple American citizenship test is a small thing to ask. It’s a step forward whether school districts like it or not.

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