Would-be citizens will have to pass a new citizenship exam, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. Currently, examiners pick 10 questions out of a list of 100 fairly random facts.
Some questions, like one about the colors of the flag, are so simple they seem to belong on the civics equivalent of a driver’s permit test. Others, such as naming the constitutional amendments that address voting rights, require study.
“I don’t want to make the test harder, and I don’t want to make it easier — I want to make it more meaningful,” said Eduardo Aguirre Jr., director of the citizenship agency.
A question on the current test asks, “What are the first 10 amendments to the Constitution called?” A hypothetical question on the new test might be, “What does the Bill of Rights mean for you?” said another official.
That seems awfully fuzzy, especially if another goal is to standardize the exam.
I’ll never forget going out to dinner with my aunt and uncle and a young woman from Hong Kong who they’d coached for her citizenship test. The three of them recited the line of succession to the presidency, down to the postmaster general. I’m not sure that knowledge reflects an appreciation of American values or democracy, but it was impressive.