Senator Jeanie Riddle’s Capitol Report for the Week of April 11, 2016

Riddle - Banner - Column - 010715

Missouri Education Civics Initiative Passes in Senate

This week, one of the bills I am sponsoring was perfected and passed in the Senate. Senate Bill 638 establishes the Missouri Civics Education Initiative, in an effort to strengthen the education in our communities.

This legislation would establish a civics test as a prerequisite for graduating from Missouri high schools. The test will cover subjects pertaining to the provisions and principles of American civics and would be similar to the test given by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services to immigrants seeking citizenship.  This bill would affect all students of public and private schools who are entering into 9th grade after July 1, 2017.

Our students should have a strong background knowledge of our country’s history and government, and the Missouri Civics Initiative would create a standard for all high school graduates. The test can be retaken as many times as possible until the student achieves a passing grade. Certain allowance to waive eligibility from the test can be made for students with disabilities upon an Individualized Education Program committee recommendation.

Senate Bill 638 also enables school districts to develop a policy that allows student participation in the Constitution Project of the Missouri Supreme Court. This includes granting credit for good citizenship as required by the A+ tuition reimbursement program, the Missouri and U.S. Constitution course required or any relevant course of instructional unit in American government or a similar subject.  The Constitution Project, sponsored since 2013 by the Supreme Court, allows schools to compete in the field of journalism, crime scene investigation and trial advocacy.  This gives students an exciting, hands-on experience to learn about concepts such as freedom of the press, due process and the right to trial by jury.  There is an independent bill supporting the Constitution Project sponsored by Representative Robert Ross that I am handling while the bill is in the Senate to further promote civics education in our schools.

Senate Bill 638 will strengthen our communities by raising the standard in high schools regarding civics education. Missouri high school students would learn and care more about U.S. history and civics.  I am confident that SB 638 will garner a large amount of support in the House of Representatives. I’m also hopeful that this positive legislation will move to the governor’s desk to be signed into action to help Missouri students have a strong civics background in furthering education or entering the workforce.

On Thursday, the Missouri Farm Bureau hosted Farm Bureau Leadership Day. We welcomed Future Farmers of America (FFA) organizations from across the state, including the North Callaway, Montgomery County, Audrain County, and Elsberry FFA chapters.  These students were introduced and recognized on the Senate floor for their successes as young leaders in the agriculture community.

It is an honor to be your State Senator and my door is always open to your concerns, questions or comments. Please feel free to contact me at (573) 751-2757 or visit my web page at