Probably not many people, even in highly educated Lawrence could match State Sen. Marci Francisco's perfect score, reported in Saturday's Journal-World, on a series of questions taken from the new U.S. citizenship test.
And that's too bad.
In fact, it's a little shocking that a group of Lawrence high school students questioned by a Journal-World reporter had no idea what powers belong to the federal government or how old they had to be to vote. It sort of makes you wonder whether, in the push to leave no child behind in the areas of math and reading, schools have chosen to place too little emphasis on government and civic education.
However, people who went through the school system before No Child Left Behind, weren't faring much better. Apparently forgetting even the 10 amendments that make up the Bill of Rights, one local resident thought five sounded about right for the total number of amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
Maybe it's a positive sign that the U.S. system of government runs well enough that most citizens can easily take it for granted. The only problem is that the future stability of our nation depends on people understanding and participating in our democracy.
Any move to require native-born Americans to demonstrate, as part of the voter registration process, some of the same knowledge immigrants must have to become U.S. citizens would be seen as an undue obstacle to voting. But it's a shame that Americans don't care enough to understand their government and how it works. Our democracy is a miracle of human ingenuity that needs our support. Apathy and ignorance probably are the greatest enemies of a system that has survived a full range of political and economic tests in the last 230 years.
Just for fun, everyone should answer the sample questions from the citizenship test in Saturday's Journal-World. Then get a copy of the whole test, and see how you do. If you find some questions you can't answer, look them up. We all might learn a thing or two about the country we love.