South Carolina law requires college students to complete civics education requirements

Students will need to read America's founding documents and complete at least three semester hours.

The law is an updated version of previous legislation to ensure an American civics education for SC students.

South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster signed a bill on April 28 that enforces the state’s postsecondary civics education requirements.

The Reinforcing College Education on America’s Constitutional Heritage (REACH) Act demands that all public institutions of higher learning must require students “to complete no fewer than three semester credit hours or their equivalent in American history, American government, or another equivalent course of instruction that provides a comprehensive overview of the major events and turning points of American history and government.” 

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Students, at a minimum, must read the United States Constitution, Declaration of Independence, and Emancipation Proclamation in their entireties, as well as “a minimum of five essays in their entirety from the Federalist Papers” and “one or more documents that are foundational to the African American Freedom struggle.”

The REACH Act states that “no public institution of higher learning may grant a certificate of graduation for a baccalaureate degree program to a student unless he successfully completes the requirements.” It also instructs the state’s Commission on Higher Education to “ensure the compliance of each public institution of higher learning.”

In 2019, Campus Reform reported that the University of South Carolina ignored a prior version of the REACH Act passed in 1924, calling the requirements “archaic” and in need of updating.

[RELATED: USC ignores state law, refuses US civics graduation requirement]

According to a Facebook post shared by State Sen. Lawrence Grooms, who sponsored the bill, the new version of the REACH Act gives teeth to the regulations.

“The REACH Act is not a new law, but rather updates a previous state law that most state colleges had been consciously choosing to violate,” explained Jameson Broggi, a student at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia School of Law who helped to write the legislation.

Broggi told Campus Reform that while he was a college student at the University of South Carolina, he learned that the school was violating the older version of the REACH Act. He later wrote a new law to “give more enforcement power and ensure a constitution class is required for all students.”

“I care zero about credit. I am just happy a class on America’s founding documents will be required and I think it is newsworthy,” he added.

Campus Reform reached out to Sen. Grooms and the University of South Carolina for comment; this article will be updated accordingly.

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