While I would not be surprised to learn that high school students in Arizona might have to know the books of the Bible or the parts of a rifle before being allowed to graduate from high school, I was almost shocked yesterday when I heard over the radio that the Arizona legislature had just passed a law saying that seniors would have to pass a test over the U.S. Constitution in order to graduate. True, lots of states have had a requirement like that for decades, but for the legislature of Arizona to even recognize that there is a federal government is about as unlikely as the entire group of "legislators" suddenly tripping and falling into the Grand Canyon at the same time.
Arizona has never been much on going with the national flow. It is the only state in the union that declines to participate in Daylight Savings Time, and several years ago then Governor Evan Mecham ruled by executive fiat that the state would no longer recognize Martin Luther King day as a paid holiday. Mecham changed in holiday in Arizona to a Sunday when workers would no longer have to be paid for observing the holiday. (Mecham also became infamous for defending his use of the word "pickaninny" to describe African American children.)
(Mecham was later impeached, and the holiday was moved back to its original Monday status.)
Arizona became known over the last several years for its tough and racist stance on immigration as the state rushed to pass legislation that would give police almost unlimited powers to stop and harass people with brown skin. Such efforts led to a continuing state of conflict between some state and county police agencies and the efforts of the U.S. Immigration Service.
Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County summoned reporters on numerous occasions to piss and moan about what he saw as the over-reach of the federal government, as well as the feds' monitoring of his police state operation. Governor Jan Brewer also maintained a ready snarl for the government of the United States of America and postured against efforts of the central government for her own political ends. One of her biggest stunts was to manage to get herself photographed on the tarmac at Sky Harbor (the Phoenix airport) sticking her finger at President Obama's nose.
There are also the legislators themselves who are usually too damned lazy, or preoccupied with immigration and abortion, to actually sit down and do any legislating. Most of the laws in Arizona that aren't written by ALEC (a very pro-business lobbying group) are written by lobbyists for the state's private prison industry - who also happen to be big contributors to political campaigns.
Yes, it is a grand idea for high school students in Arizona, or anywhere else for that matter, to learn the basics of the United States Constitution, but in Arizona, in particular, it would be wonderful if the politicians could also meet the standard of passing a test on our nation's Constitution. There is so much in that document that would probably come as a surprise to them.
But, first things first. Get today's students familiar with the principal document that governs our nation, and hopefully the next generation of Arizona politicians will be better at the job of governing because they were exposed to the Constitution in high school.
One can only hope.