Utah became the fourth state, after Arizona, North Dakota and South Dakota, to pass legislation to implement the Civics Education Initiative, joining a growing nationwide effort to ensure every U.S. high school graduate has the basic tools they need to become informed, engaged citizens.
The Utah bill requires high school students to pass the U.S. Citizenship Test – the same test immigrants must pass to become U.S. citizens – as a graduation requirement. It was sponsored by the Arizona-based Joe Foss Institute and its Utah-based partners.
“Four down, forty-six to go,” said Frank Riggs, President and CEO of the Joe Foss Institute. “Every high school student should be able to demonstrate factual knowledge of the democratic principles on which our country is founded, and from which our basic freedoms and rights as Americans flow. Those freedoms and rights, which our men and women in uniform have defended and preserved since our country’s founding, are what unite us as Americans. The Joe Foss institute is dedicated to ensuring our students graduate high school ready, willing and able to take on the serious responsibilities of citizenship.”
Riggs continued, “We at the Joe Foss Institute congratulate and thank our Utah partners on the passage of the legislation, especially Overstock.com Chairman Jonathan Johnson who spearheaded the effort to improve civic learning in Utah.”
"Passing this bill was a lot of work and took until the last day of the session, but it was worth it,” said Johnson. “Utah students will be better prepared to engage in their civic responsibilities as citizens.”
The leadership of the Joe Foss Institute and its affiliate, the Civics Proficiency Institute, also thanked the prime sponsors of the Utah legislation, Senator Howard Stephenson and Representative Steve Eliason, as well as the co-chairs of the Utah Civics Education Initiative: Mr. Johnson; Loreno Riffo-Jensen, Vox Creative; LaVarr Webb, Webb Consulting; Nicole Martin, Communications Director – Sandy City; Sharlene Hawkes, President, Honor My Service; Rick Larsen, Impact Strategic Advisors; Alex Iorg, Bully Pulpit; and Chuck Warren of Silver Bullet Group.
In addition to Utah, Arizona, North Dakota and South Dakota, legislation to advance the Civics Education Initiative has been introduced in 18 other states. The Joe Foss Institute created and launched the Civics Education Initiative in 2014, with a goal of passing legislation in all 50 states by the 230th anniversary of the signing of the Constitution on September 17, 2017.