Governor’s aide: Civics bill violates Kansas Constitution

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A spokesperson for Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly says a Republican proposal to require graduating Kansas high school students to have passed a civics test violates the state constitution.

Kelly spokesperson Reeves Oyster stopped short Friday of saying Kelly would veto a bill approved by the state Senate this week to require the test.

But she said in email: “The civics bill is an unconstitutional intrusion on the authority of the State Board of Education.”

The state constitution says the elected state board has “general supervision” of public schools, and the Kansas Supreme Court ruled decades ago that the board exercises its power independently laws enacted by the Legislature. The board sets curriculum standards.

Republicans supporting the bill disagree that it intrudes too much on the board’s power and say a test would give students basic knowledge to become engaged citizens. Nineteen states require high school students to take such a test to graduate, the Legislature’s research staff says.

Under the bill, the test would consist of 60 randomly selected questions from the U.S. citizenship test. The bill does not set a passing grade, leaving that up to teachers. Students would be able to take the test multiple times until they pass.


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