Civic Seal Legislation Moving Through Committee Process In The House

This week, Republican leaders advanced legislation that establishes the Governor’s Civics Seal program.

House Bill 944 recognizes Tennessee’s public schools and school districts that implement high-quality civic education because it is essential to preserving our constitutional democracy. This initiative seeks to promote efforts to increase access to quality civics education, while also developing specific standards by which schools can implement the Civics Seal program. These standards include instructional criteria, professional development for teachers, project-based assessment implementation, real-world learning activities, and high-performance on Tennessee’s mandated exam for our high school seniors.

While our state currently mandates civics exams, Tennessee’s high school seniors are not required to pass this exam to graduate. Currently, schools are also insufficiently teaching students the basic principles of civics. As a result, fewer and fewer individuals are obtaining basic institutional knowledge. According to the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, a majority of Americans in each state except Vermont would fail a test based on questions included in the U.S. citizenship test.

Only 38 percent of Tennesseans would currently pass the citizenship test and just 13 percent would score a B or higher. While these numbers are higher than most of our neighboring states in the southeast, we can, and we must improve.

House Republicans will continue to support legislation like House Bill 944 because these initiatives strengthen the academic foundations of Tennessee’s future leaders.