I can probably count on the fingers of both hands some idea that’s come from the state legislature that I like and if I limit it to Republican ideas I can put one hand in my pocket.
But this is one of those very rare occasions when I actually love a suggestion from Republican Rep. James Edming who is from Glen Flora, a city or village I have never heard of.
Edming wants every high school student in the state to take and pass a civics test before they can graduate. Fail and you can take it again and again and again, but if you don’t pass, you don’t graduate.
I love this idea even though it has the smell of another shot at teachers and their union.
It’s not like I go around asking everyone I meet to answer some civics question. But in normal conversation I am often amazed how many adults have no idea who represents them or what the difference is between the Common Council and the Board of Supervisors.
I don’t think this knowledge is crucial to success for anyone, but I do think it’s important for a couple of reasons.
One is that it helps to be engaged and part of the process of making Milwaukee a good place to live. For example NEWaukee is a force of 201,000 subscribers who are committed to having a good time and helping to make Milwaukee a great place to live and work.
Part of that commitment – a big part – is knowing how to work the system to get what you want. That kind of political activity is not for novices. I wonder how many of those subscribers could pass the test.
If you want to participate you have to know how the system works, and that involves both current events and a sense of history. You don't need to be a "Jeopardy" expert, but having some idea about how things work and who makes them work is a pretty good idea for an educational system.
The usual suspects are bitching and moaning about this proposal, which is a provision in the state budget. Teachers and the ACLU don’t like it because it places the burden of yet another test on students. I am one who thinks it’s possible to overtest kids. But on this one it’s easy to get on board.
You can see a 100-question test here. Part one has the questions and part two has the answers.
I took the test but I’m not going to reveal my answers. Maybe everyone who reads this should give it a try. If you miss 25 or more questions that gives you a 75% score. I don’t know what it is now, but when I was going to school a 75% was a D+. If you get one of those, you ought to be ashamed of yourself.
I think math and science are very important things for kids to learn in school. I also think kids should be taught about personal finance and how to drive safely. But a sense of civic responsibility is also important and while a test won’t teach someone to be responsible, it will at least help them think about it.
With a history in Milwaukee stretching back decades, Dave tries to bring a unique perspective to his writing, whether it's sports, politics, theater or any other issue.
He's seen Milwaukee grow, suffer pangs of growth, strive for success and has been involved in many efforts to both shape and re-shape the city. He's a happy man, now that he's quit playing golf, and enjoys music, his children and grandchildren and the myriad of sports in this state. He loves great food and hates bullies and people who think they are smarter than everyone else.
This whole Internet thing continues to baffle him, but he's willing to play the game as long as OnMilwaukee.com keeps lending him a helping hand. He is constantly amazed that just a few dedicated people can provide so much news and information to a hungry public.
Despite some opinions to the contrary, Dave likes most stuff. But he is a skeptic who constantly wonders about the world around him. So many questions, so few answers.