Friday, September 28, 2007

Is our schools working?

The Dubya maladministration is pushing a new citizenship test that will "require less rote memorization and [] focus more on fostering identification with American values."

According to the story in the San Francisco Chronicle:

Narasaki is among those who question whether the Bush administration may be politicizing the test. She pointed to one question in particular that she said encapsulates the test's increased difficulty as well as a new political tinge. "The Federalist Papers supported the passage of the U.S. Constitution," question 67 reads. "Name one of the writers."

The Federalist Papers, a series of articles advocating ratification of the Constitution, are cited as an inspiration by conservatives who believe in restricting the federal government's power. During the 2006 immigration debate, Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., offered an amendment that required immigrants taking the citizenship test to know about the Federalist Papers.

"This seems to be something pushed by conservatives with a conservative agenda," Narasaki said. "There aren't a whole lot of other people who think this is relevant to a new immigrant, to help them understand who we are as a country."

Only little problem here is that the Federalist Papers were supporting the proposed Constitution, which -- suppplanting the older and weaker Articles of Confederation -- would strengthen the federal government and increase its size and reach. The folks that opposed the proposed Constitution and who favoured more power for the states (the forerunners of the "state's right" crew this last century and a half ... and Inhofe) were the anti-Federalists (who published their own polemics in rebuttal to Madison, Jay, and Hamilton's Federalist Papers).

One might begin to suspect that Inhofe's real motivation is just to make the test harder and to deny as many of "those people" as possible U.S. citizenship (go read the articles for more).

Maybe we ought to test Inhofe to see how much American history and civics he knows ... and strip his citizenship if he flunks.


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