Twenty-six states have examinations every student must pass to get out of high school, called exit exams. These consist of questions about basic knowledge in several areas, the sort of thing that every adult should know. Yet there is no requirement that a person serving in Congress must have even this basic competence. And some don’t, a situation that has been demonstrated far too often in recent months.
Consider Todd Akin’s astonishing statements about women, or Paul Braun’s belief that the earth is no more than 9,000 years old. Michelle Bachman and Sarah Palin are always good for unsupportable statements. And there are many more.
There is no requirement for a person
serving in Congress to have even
basic competence. And some don’t.
Lack of a way to assure that elected Congressional members have basic understanding of reality is an obvious oversight that cries out for remedy. The situation is dangerous because a relatively small number of such ignoramuses can cause significant damage to the nation because of their believe in impossibilities.
I propose a Congressional Entrance Exam, to be administered to every person running for election to Congress. The exam will have several versions, and could be taken three times at three month intervals. If a person fails it three times, he will not be allowed to run for Congress, having failed to demonstrate minimal intellectual and educational competence.
The Congressional Entrance Exam is a simple test of fundamental knowledge. It is not the equivalent of the Graduate Record Exam or similar tests, which are rigorous tests of advanced knowledge needed for developing special skills.
I propose a Congressional Entrance Exam
for every person wanting to run for Congress.
Here are some subject areas that could be included. This is not a comprehensive list:
- The Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Questions will require recognition of sections of the Constitution and what they describe. Respondents should recognize, for example, that Article 1 forbids the establishment of a state religion.
- Essential scientific methodology and some important demonstrated facts that derive from it. Questions will focus on how science “proves” something and what it does not prove, and emphasizes that a personal belief cannot invalidate a scientific finding.
- Essential statistics. All respondents must demonstrate understanding of probability and distribution, what these things do and do not show, and the primary types of statistical studies and what they show and do not show.
- The legal apparatus. How laws are established and upheld by the courts. Basic legal procedures and safeguards of rights and freedoms. Essential facts of punishment and rehabilitation.
- Essentials of world and American history, including the preparation of the founding documents and significant events in American history to the present day.
- Primary biology, including human biology and reproduction. Classification of living things, including extinct plants and animals. Systems of the human body.
The purpose of such a test is to keep ignorant fools from running for Congress. Congress is supposed to be an assembly of intelligent and knowledgeable people who gather to debate and pass legislation for the betterment of the country, not a collection of religious or other extremists bent on forcing intelligent people to accept their fantasy world.
The purpose of such a test is to keep
ignorant fools from running for Congress.
We have had a long string of preposterous statements from various elected officials that clearly demonstrated that they have little understanding of how the real world works. The Congressional Entrance Exam would help build a Congress of at least minimal competence, where every member functions above the level of a high school graduate. This would be a significant improvement because there are large numbers of legislators currently who clearly function with a system of beliefs that have little to do with reality.