Dear Governor Ducey,
Congratulations on the passage of your first legislation requiring all Arizona high school students to take and pass a civics exam. It is an important step for the state to be recognized as the most civic literate place in the country.
However, I am afraid that you have set the bar far too low for envy. A 60 percent passing score is barely a "D." We need to sit atop the country's civic flagpole, not claim a half-mast position. In order to attain these heights, we need changes to the legislation so Arizonans can beam with civic pride from sea to shining sea:
• Immediately raise the passing score to 70 percent for all high school students. Can't we expect a "C" from our future leaders?
• Immediately require all state employees to take the test and score 80 percent. Arizonans want the cream of the civic crop working for the state. Our hard earned tax dollars should not go to civic nincompoops. If state employees can't pass the test in two tries, then they need to work for other states. And once you lift the hiring freeze, new employees must pass the test as well.
• It is terribly important that all political appointees and Legislative, Executive, and Judicial staff set a good example and score 85 percent on the test. These are the people who help the people who make the decisions for the people, and they need to be the best of the best civic citizens. If they can't pass in two tries, then let them work in the private sector.
• Finally, our elected officials need to pass the test at the 90 percent level. Before any local, city, county, state or federal candidate files to run for election, they must present a state issued "Proof of Passing" the civics exam. Those who wish to represent the electorate get only one chance and if they fail to meet the standard, well, they can study until the next election cycle.
By immediately implementing these steps Arizona will be the envy of every state in the union. It will have the country's most civically minded elected officials, staff, employees and high school students. Arizona will be respected for its civic literacy, civic richness and civic intelligence. I hope to see these changes in future legislation, Governor Ducey, and good luck on your test.
Mike Mayer has been a long-time educator with TUSD and the UA. He is currently working on special projects with the Cooper Center for Environmental Learning and other writing projects.