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Dan Rackley

Dan Rackley is a US Naval veteran living in Philadelphia and a contributor to "Will They Ever Trust Us Again?"

January 13th, 2011 12:18 PM

Lawmakers in Idaho Fail test

They got real good pop quizzes in Boise

Every morning, I tend to follow a usual pattern.  Wake up, make my son breakfast.  Then I drop him off at school.  Followed by pouring a cup of coffee, I then turn to peruse several of my favorite online news sources.  For a little bit of light entertainment, I always give the “Bizarre” section of the Philadelphia ABC6 website.  With all the strife and turmoil in the world, it is always nice to look at your news and see something amusing or lighthearted.  Like a boy getting his tongue stuck to a metal pole.  Or a burglar that gets drunk and then calls the police from the house he’s robbing.  Unfortunately, on my most recent session of perusing the ABC6.com Bizarre page, I read an article that gave me pause and a horrible case of Déjà vu.

Earlier in the week I wrote a column talking about the very public mess up by Mike Fitzpatrick where he missed the Congressional swearing in ceremony and attempted to swear in via television.  For those of you that may have missed it, you can go back and give it a look.  But my point there was that we should really take a second look at some of our lawmakers if they can’t remember to honor some of the basic traditions and rules of the government.  One person that commented on the article made a very valid point that to teach a kindergartner you have to pass a litany of tests; but there are no qualifying tests for Congress.  Well, on a small scale, we got a dry run of what that test would look like.  Some of the participants did not do as well as you would hope.

During a demonstration before the Idaho State Senate and House, Idaho’s public schools chief was giving a presentation of some new education technology.  The demonstration was supposed to exhibit how a system was supposed to quiz students and they give their answers electronically.  What would happen after the students gave their answers is that a number would show up on a monitor indicating the percentage of how many of them got an answer right or wrong.  Sounds like a great way to make things more fun; turn school into a game show.  But I digress.

To give the Idaho lawmakers a good demo on how the system worked, they were each handed the same equipment used by the state’s schoolchildren and asked to participate in a little pop quiz.  Schools Chief Tom Luna then presented them two questions that Idahoans in public office should know.  What year Idaho became a state, and what town was the state’s first capital.  Seventeen percent got the first question wrong, and around fifteen percent got the second one incorrect.  Now, if I were going to suggest imposing an entrance exam for new legislators, I would be fair.  I would not expect calculus to be part of the next, nor would I think zoology would have any place for example.  But I would hope that If I was voting for someone that they would at least know a couple of the most basic facts of the state I am wanting them to help run.  Can anyone imagine if someone got elected for President and they couldn’t say where the first US Capital was?  People would be running through the streets asking for them to be impeached and say they were unqualified.  Quick message for all you Sarah Palin fans; remember when she was asked what five magazines she read and she couldn’t do it?  Then she wasn’t so sure exactly what the Vice President did.  My point exactly.  We as a people need to pay better attention to who we are electing.  Because if they can’t even tell us basic facts about what we are asking them to govern; what says they aren’t going to go in and completely screw things up?

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