Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Could You Pass the Test?

A story in today's Chicago Tribune discusses the concerns that groups on both sides of the political fence have about the government's ongoing effort to redesign the naturalization test:
To become U.S. citizens, many immigrants study for months to pass an exam of English and the basics of the American political system. On Test Day, they might have to know that Dick Cheney is the vice president or that senators serve six-year terms.

But while immigrants learn Civics 101, the government's ongoing effort to redesign the naturalization exam has become a textbook political tussle, bringing in liberal immigrant advocates, a conservative veterans group and lawmakers of both parties.

Immigration officials say the redesign process is vital to ensure that a growing pool of naturalized citizens assimilate into the United States.

The seemingly simple bureaucratic exercise, however, raises a sensitive question: How do you prove you are a good American?
I've always found it interesting that we ask immigrants to this country to answer questions about our history and the functioning of our government that many--if not most--native-born Americans would struggle with. (Think about all those Leno and Letterman bits where they send a cameraman out into the street to ask history and geography questions. Most of the people whose answers make it onto the show fail miserably.)

The Trib offers a sample of current questions. If you had to take a citizenship test tomorrow, could you pass? And are these questions a good measure of citizenship or just a bunch of trivia?
How would you do?
Immigration officials hope to have a new citizenship test in place by 2008. Liberal immigrant advocates fear making the test too hard and conservatives say some of the current questions are meaningless. Here are a few questions from the test, introduced in 1988.

1. Can you name the 13 original states?
2. What is the minimum voting age?
3. Who has the power to declare war?
4. What is the 4th of July?
5. What do the stripes on the flag mean?
6. How many representatives are there in Congress?

How did you do?

3 Comments:

Blogger Mr. Liberty said...

I think I got them all.

Except #6. I don't need no stinking representatives!

jp

5:30 PM  
Anonymous Russell Woolard said...

I got all of them right except #3 - the one about who can declare war. It's Congress, apparently. Could have sworn it was the Fox News Channel.

7:04 PM  
Blogger Alison Rose said...

I missed the one about the number of representatives. I know how the number is derived, but didn't remember the exact count. Durn!

7:14 PM  

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