I was a little annoyed when a news release from the Woodrow Wilson Foundation turned up in my email on Friday proclaiming in its lede that “only 34 percent of West Virginia residents earned a passing grade on history questions from the U.S. citizenship test.”
Great, I thought. Another test/poll/survey/ranking showing once again that West Virginia deserves to dwell in the cellar in yet another category. At least this time we weren’t leading the nation in the number of obese cigarette smokers with heart issues who ride ATVs packing loaded handguns but not wearing helmets, or in the number of fatal church-related timber rattler bites.
But after reading the results of Woodrow Wilson Fellowship’s press release with a bit more care, I learned that we were not ranked last in the nation again. We were seventh from the last! In your American history-impaired faces, Louisiana, Kentucky, Arkansas, Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia!
But it gets worse. As it turns out, only one state — Vermont — has a majority (53 percent) of residents who can score a passing grade on the 20-question quiz excerpted from the significantly longer and harder citizenship test newcomers to our country are expected to pass in order to become citizens.
Curious to see just how hard the test could be, I clicked the appropriate link and took it. It was harder than I thought, though when it was over the Foundation congratulated me for passing it. What grade did I get? I will say only that my dream of someday being named a Woodrow Wilson Fellow, or even a Woodrow Wilson Dude, has dimmed and faded.
To bring home a more satisfactory pass-fail rate for our state, perhaps our Legislature could ensure that if the Foundation issues a similar quiz on a future Presidents Day weekend, the following must be among its questions:
1. What great American broke the sound barrier?
a) Eddie Van Halen, 1982
b) Ace Frehley, 1980
c) Chuck Yeager, 1947
d) Mariah Carey, 2010
2. Which of the following rivers flows north?
a) Mississippi River
b) Hudson River
c) New River
d) Crimea River
3. Which American presidential candidate campaigned on a platform supporting deregulating extraction of “clean, beautiful coal”?
a) Don Blankenship
b) Don Nehlan
c) Don Quixote
d) Donald Trump
4. Which early 20th century labor firebrand encouraged Appalachian miners to unionize?
a) Mother Teresa
b) Mother Hubbard
c) Mother Jones
d) Aunt Bea
The U.S. state of West Virginia derives its name from:
a) Jerry West
b) Kanye West
c) Mae West
d) The direction in which it is generally aligned when compared to a state with a similar name found immediately to the east.
What enemy did the United States fight during the Cold War?
a) Global warming
c) Fossil fuels