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Indiana Statehouse

The Indiana Statehouse is in Indianapolis.

Many of us have seen late-night television comedy hosts poking fun at the lack of U.S. citizenship and history knowledge during man-on-the-street routines.

It's really no laughing matter.

Too many American citizens aren't in tune with even the most basic knowledge of U.S. government, citizenship and the Constitution.

Even more woefully inadequate is the knowledge and interest of schoolchildren, young adults and citizens at-large in U.S. and world history.

It's why we firmly support a pending bill in the Indiana Legislature to require all Indiana high school students to pass the U.S. citizenship test already administered to immigrants who seek to become Americans.

It seems shortsighted to require immigrants to master a basic knowledge of the workings of our government without forging the same requirement for our youth as they take crucial next steps to adulthood.

There should be no birthright rendering any American exempt from learning the core structure and values of our nation.

Senate Bill 132, sponsored by state Sen. Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn, would prohibit a student from earning a high school diploma at any public, charter or private school unless the student correctly answers at least 60 of the 100 citizenship exam questions, regardless of whether the student has satisfied all other graduation requirements.

"We have a deficiency in government and civics knowledge in America today, and I think it's getting worse," Kruse said.

"This test is a fair judgment, I think, of what somebody should know to become a United States citizen, and I think somebody who is a citizen, and goes through our school system, also ought to know this information."

We agree.

Hoosier students already must earn passing grades in two semesters of U.S. history, and one semester of U.S. government, in order to receive a high school diploma.

Under a 2017 law, the State Board of Education this year also is providing schools an optional U.S. government end-of-course exam to administer to high school students.

It's time to take these requirements further.

The General Assembly should adopt Senate Bill 132 to create a more informed Hoosier citizenry. 

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Members of The Times Editorial Board are Publisher Christopher T. White, Editor Marc Chase, Deputy Editor Kerry Erickson, Assistant Local News Editor Crista Zivanovic and Regional News Editor Sharon Ross.