Joe Foss Institute

Decoding the Lyrics: “Bad Romance: Women’s Suffrage

by JoeFossInstitute on March 5, 2015

Capture the interest of today’s student with the fun and informative music video based on Lady Gaga’s hit song, “Bad Romance.” Produced by Soomo Publishing, it tells the story of suffragist Alice Paul and her fight for the American woman’s right to vote.

After presenting the video, use the analysis sheet to Decode the Lyrics. This activity highlights the video’s historical references scene-by-scene.

Bad Romance








Thanks so our friends at the National Constitution Center.

The Great Emancipator

by JoeFossInstitute on February 11, 2015











February 12, Lincoln’s birthday, ought to be sacred in the heart of every American. He saved the Union, freed the slaves, and regrounded the Constitution in the Declaration of Independence. He was the greatest man of the 19th century and one of the greatest men of the millennium. His example is never far from my thought; and how we need his moral clarity today!

– Frank Riggs, President & CEO, Joe Foss Institute

What would the legendary Joe Foss say about Deflate-gate?

by JoeFossInstitute on January 30, 2015

football joeAfter serving as a World War II fighter pilot and as South Dakota Governor, in 1959 Joe Foss was the first Commissioner of the American Football League. For six years, he oversaw the league’s expansion, and striking a multi-million dollar deal with ABC to broadcast the league’s games.

As one of the key individuals responsible for developing professional football in this country, Joe Foss certainly dealt with issues of fairness and integrity.

We wondered, if Joe were around today, what would he have to say about Deflate-Gate? Below is our imagined interview with the late, great Joe Foss.

Q. What does the entire deflate-gate incident say about the state of professional football today?
A. Unfortunately allegations of cheating have affected multiple professional sports in recent years – from football to baseball, basketball to cycling. It’s up to the leaders of all professional sports leagues to reinforce the ethics that create a fair playing field. There must be a culture of honesty that starts at the top and permeates throughout the organization

Q. Any advice for Tom Brady and the Patriots?
A. I do not know if the balls were intentionally deflated or not. If the Patriots are not at fault, I would advise them to take the upper road and move on without prejudice. If tampering was involved, my advice is to tell the truth. As Mark Twain is famously quoted, “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”

Q. What can the NFL do to move on from the controversy surrounding Deflate-gate?
A. The NFL should thoroughly investigate the evidence to determine what actually occurred. The evidence may show tampering. And it may not. Either way, the NFL can use this as an opportunity to make it clear that moral courage and integrity mean doing the right thing when no one is looking, and that the league will not tolerate any type of cheating now or in the future.

Wall Street Journal: AZ First State to Pass Citizenship Exam

by JoeFossInstitute on January 16, 2015

Gov. Ducey Signs Bill Requiring Students to Score 60 out of 100 on Citizenship Exam to Graduate

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed a bill requiring students to pass the U.S. citizenship exam in order to graduate from high school.

Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

By Caroline Porter

Updated Jan. 16, 2015 11:42 a.m. ET

Arizona legislators Thursday passed an education bill that requires students to pass the U.S. citizenship exam in order to graduate from high school, becoming the first in the nation to do so.

After the state’s House majority leader formally filed the bill on Monday, the state House and Senate fast-tracked the American Civics Act through the legislature in the first week of its legislative session.

Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, signed the bill into law Thursday evening. “Send it to my desk, and I’ll sign it immediately,” he had said in his state of the state address earlier this week.

Under the law, high-school students will need to answer 60 of 100 exam questions correctly to graduate from high school.

The bill is part of a larger campaign by the Civics Education Initiative, an affiliate of the Joe Foss Institute, a nonpartisan nonprofit based in Scottsdale, Ariz., to mandate the U.S. citizenship exam in schools around the country. The group said that 18 additional states are reviewing similar bills, noting that the North Dakota House of Representatives also passed a civics-education bill Thursday.

“Proud day for Arizonans as we become first in the nation, and lead the way to the bipartisan passage of the Civics Education Initiative in every state,” said Frank Riggs, president and chief executive officer of the Joe Foss Institute.

About two-thirds of students tested below proficient on the civics portion of the National Assessment of Educational Progress in both 2006 and 2010.

Write to Caroline Porter at

Arizona First in Nation to Pass Civics Education Initiative

by JoeFossInstitute on January 15, 2015

Large, Bipartisan Majorities Show Support for the First Step in a Rebirth of Civics Education

Phoenix, Arizona – With large, bipartisan majorities in the State Legislature, Arizona today became the first state to pass the Civics Education Initiative. The Civics Education Initiative requires high school students, as a condition of graduation, to take and pass the USCIS Citizenship Civics Test – the test all new immigrants must pass before becoming citizens.

“Proud day for Arizonans as we become first in the nation, and lead the way to the bipartisan passage of the Civics Education Initiative in every state,” said Frank Riggs, President and CEO of the Scottsdale-based Joe Foss Institute, the organization promoting the legislation.

Beyond Arizona, eighteen other states are currently considering this critical legislation. North Dakota and Utah appear to be next in line, with legislators and supporters in those states eager to follow Arizona’s lead, with the North Dakota House of Representatives also passing the bill today by an astounding 85-1 margin.

The leadership of the Joe Foss Institute and the Civics Education Initiative would like to extend special thanks to Governor Ducey, prime sponsor Majority Leader Steve Montenegro (R-13), House Government and Education Committee Chairman Bob Thorpe (R-6) and the members of his committee, and Minority Leader Dr. Eric Meyer (D-28).

In the Senate, special thanks go out to Majority Leader Steve Yarbrough (R-17), Senate Education Committee Chairman Kelli Ward (R-5) and the members of her committee, Senator Barbara McGuire (D-8), and Senator Carlyle Begay (D-7).

“It’s a New Year, and a new day for students here in Arizona and across the country who will now have the basic tools they need to become active, engaged citizens,” concluded Riggs.
The bill passed the Arizona House by a vote of 42-17. In the Senate the results were similarly positive, with 19 for and only 10 voting against.

Arizona’s Former US Senators, Co-Chairs of Civics Education Initiative, Praise Governor Ducey’s Call for Civics Education Requirement

Bill Requiring Civics Test for High School Graduation Readied for Bipartisan Legislative Action

 Phoenix, Arizona:  Governor Doug Ducey made his campaign promise to require that Arizona high school students pass a civics test as a graduation requirement a major priority of his first State of the State Address today. In his speech to a joint meeting of the state legislature, Governor Ducey called upon the legislators to make civics education legislation the first bill to reach his desk.

The Civics Education Initiative (CEI), a project of the Civics Proficiency Institute affiliated with the Scottsdale-based Joe Foss Institute, would require high school students to take and pass the 100 question US Citizenship Civics test – the same test all new US citizens must pass. Recent statistics show 92% of immigrants seeking US citizenship pass the test on their first try, while a study of Arizona high school students showed a passing rate of less than 5%.

Said Arizona’s former U.S. Senator Dennis DeConcini, “I’m pleased to see bipartisan legislative support building for the Civics Education Initiative and thank Governor Ducey for making it a high priority. Quick and overwhelming passage will ensure civics as a priority for Arizona’s students, and will demonstrate that our legislature can work in a bipartisan manner on an important matter.”

Senator DeConcini, a Democrat, co-chairs the Arizona Civics Education Initiative effort along with former US Senator Jon Kyl, a Republican, and Arizona business and community leaders Norman McClelland, Jim Chamberlain, Sandy Froman, John Christian, Lucian Spataro and Karrin Taylor.

With legislative action likely this week, Arizona is poised to be the first of some 15 states likely to take action on the Civics Education Initiative in 2015. A recent poll in Utah showed 80% of voters favor the initiative, with national surveys showing similarly high voter approval.

“Governors, legislators, veterans and concerned citizens across the country are getting involved to pass the Civics Education Initiative in their states. Thanks to the strong leadership of Governor Ducey, Republican House Majority Leader Steve Montenegro and Democratic Representative Catherine Miranda among many others, Arizona is primed to be first in the nation in passing this vitally important legislation,” said Frank Riggs, President and CEO of the Joe Foss Institute.

The goal of the Joe Foss Institute, through its Civics Proficiency Institute affiliate, is to pass the legislation in all 50 states by September 17, 2017 – the 230th anniversary of the United States Constitution.

Concluded Arizona’s former U.S. Senator Jon Kyl, “The Civics Education Initiative is a quantifiable first step to ensure all students are taught basic civics about how our government works, and who we are as a nation. We hope other states will follow Arizona’s example to ensure that every future high school graduate is ready for active, engaged citizenship.”

To learn more about the Civics Education Initiative movement and to take the US Citizenship Civics test, please visit



Former U.S. Congressman to lead JFI

January 6, 2015

The Joe Foss Institute Board of Directors is pleased to announce today that Frank Riggs has been tapped to lead the Institute as President and CEO. Frank will also head JFI’s affiliate, the Civics Proficiency Institute (CPI), which has launched a national campaign called the Civics Education Initiative to encourage all 50 states to adopt […]

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15 States lookng to pass Civics Education Initiative

January 2, 2015

With Indiana on board, the Civics Education Initiative, an affiliate of the Joe Foss Institute, is now active in 15 states! Our goal is to pass the bill in all 50 states by September 17, 2017 – the 230th anniversary of the signing of the Constitution – because we can’t think of a better anniversary present […]

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