Testing Times

by Brendan Smith, Weirs Times Editor

There is currently a bill in the New Hampshire Senate that would require all high school students to pass the United States Citizenship Civics test in order to graduate.
Of course, this has caused a big debate among many on different sides of the issue.
Personally, I don’t think it is really a big deal.
Have you seen an example of the citizenship test? If you have been alive, lived in this country for most of your life and have been paying attention, you could probably pass it without even studying.
Still, I guess that is what the problem is all about. Fewer and fewer people are paying attention to the things that actually matter. So what might seem like a simple test to many of us would be extremely difficult to those who would be more comfortable answering questions about Jay-Z and Beyonce, whoever they are, than our own constitution.
I guess that was the impetus for this bill, to try and get kids to learn more about their country. The only problem I see is that anyone who has already graduated from high school is off the hook. Maybe we could make it that you needed to pass the test in order to vote. But then again, you would never be able to prove that the person voting is really the person who passed the test since they don’t have to prove they are the person who passed the test in the first place when they go to vote.
The whole idea of seeing how much our own citizens know about their own country set me to thinking that maybe people should be tested to see if they understand more than just the history of their country.
For example, if you are living in New Hampshire it is one thing to know how many amendments there are in the constitution and another to know how to correctly spell Kancamagus.
I am recommending, maybe in a future bill by a legislator, a citizenship test for New Hampshire residents. It would be given to those who moved here from somewhere else and have lived here for at least five years; enough time to assimilate and understand exactly how things work.
There could be sections on history, language, local government and alike and you must get a passing grade in order to be able to claim that you are a citizen of New Hampshire.
For example, one question might be: “If I tell a native that I did something and they answer by saying ‘So Don’t I” that means:
A) They do.
B) They don’t.
C) They might.
D) I don’t care (which means I really don’t, not that I do.)

The town of Boscawen is pronounced:
A) Boscawhen.
B) Boscawine
C) Bosco and Wine.
D.) That town down near Concord.

New Hampshire Town and City issues get discussed and solved:
A) At Town Meetings and City Council Meetings
B.) At The Convenience Store
C). In The daily newspaper by the same eight people who write nasty letters to the editor day in and day out.

The proper and safest way to clean snow off your roof after a storm is
A) To climb on the roof and shovel it off.
B) Standing on the ground using a roof rake.

Obviously this test would be geared towards Flatlanders since natives wouldn’t have to take one since they have always lived here. But, if the senate bill becomes law and even citizens have to take the citizenship test then this test may have to have a different test for natives, just to be fair.
We should also be giving people tests to see how much common sense they have for day to day living and to see if they are aware that there are rules for basic human decency. Sort of like the written driving exam so you can understand things like what a yield sign means.
So maybe along with knowing things like the different branches of government they might also learn to clean the snow off their car after a snowstorm, not to bring thirty items to the 14 items or less checkout, to take up only one space in a crowded parking lot, to hold the door open for the person behind you and, most important, to realize that the rest of mankind isn’t here to make sure that they have a happy life.
I hope you enjoyed this week’s column. There will be a quiz later.

Brendan’s new book “The Best Of A FOOL in New Hampshire” will be published in early spring.

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