Inquiry on Constitution Exam requirement
rbradley at ilstu.edu
Mon Mar 30 13:07:04 PDT 2009
At my institution, there is a graduation requirement for undergraduates to
take and pass a Constitution Exam, which actually consists of two exams one
on the U.S. Constitution and one on the Illinois Constitution. Students can
get a waiver for the requirement if they take and pass a stipulated course,
such as American Government. A basis for the requirement is a state law
that states "no student shall receive a certificate of graduation without
passing a satisfactory examination upon such subjects."[American patriotism
and the principles of representative government as enunciated in the U.S.
and Illinois Constitutions]. I have been invited to address a committee of
my university's academic senate as to why this graduation requirement
should be continued. The impetus for the invitation is from a group of
students who seek to eliminate the requirement.
Several years ago some attention was given to efforts in some states to
eliminate among public colleges and universities a similar requirement. In
Illinois, there were reports that several public four-year institutions had
essentially eliminated the Constitution Exam as a graduation requirement. I
was wondering if anyone knew if those reports were accurate and what the
results of efforts in other states amounted to. Also, I was wondering
specifically if anyone knew of a court case or Illinois law that
interpreted the scope of the previously cited state law, e.g it applies
only to K-12 institutions or another interpretation. Finally, if anyone is
willing to offer up suggestions for arguments to made in favor of such a
graduation requirement I would gladly receive them. Responses can be sent
directly to me at rbradley at ilstu.edu.
Thanks for your attention.
Dept. of Politics and Government
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