Letter to the Editor: On Requiring NH Students to Study Civics and Be Tested on the Subject

Click here to view the article in the Laconia Daily Sun

Why was Rep. Howard against constitutional competency exam? (July 25 2018)

To The Daily Sun,

As the Democratic candidate running for election to the N.H. House District 8, against Rep. Howard, I will be highlighting some of the differences between our positions on a variety of issues. That way, in my view, the voters of Alton, Barnstead, and Gilmanton will all know where Rep. Howard stands and where I stand, so they can contrast our respective views.

In January of 2016, the N.H. House passed SB-157, a bill that required high school students to take civics and pass a “locally developed competency assessment” test. Passing the test entitles the student to a certificate issued by the school district. The bill further provided that the U.S. citizenship test “may be used” to satisfy the testing requirement. Although use of the citizenship test was optional, it seems to make sense that the knowledge we consider essential for someone wanting to become a U.S. citizen might also be knowledge we want our own students to have.

The vote on this bill was 267 Yea, 65 Nay. The Belknap County delegation, then 100 percent Republican, voted 12 in favor and 4 against, with Rep. Howard voting Nay.

It is hard for me to understand why someone would object to having our students learn about the US and state governments and constitutions and be tested on the subject. Mr. Howard often claims to be a defender of the Constitution, so one might expect him to want students to study the actual text and take the test. In my view, if our students are afforded good educational opportunities, they will prove their excellence. And if the testing shows any deficiency, then we should all want to know about it and learn from it. I would have voted Yea.

Ruth Larson