Press Releases | Civic Literacy

ACTA Applauds South Carolina Legislative Effort to Reaffirm the Study of American History and Government

February 2, 2021 by ACTA

Washington, DC—The South Carolina Senate Education Subcommittee will vote on Wednesday, February 3, to move forward with S. 38, the Reinforcing College Education on America’s Constitutional Heritage Act (REACH Act). If enacted, the REACH Act will amend sections of the South Carolina Code of Laws to make certain that all students in public high schools and public colleges and universities are educated in the core principles of American history and government.

Current statutes require that all public high schools, colleges, and universities provide instruction to students related to the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the Federalist Papers, as well as “the study of and devotion to American institutions and ideals.”

Although ACTA applauds the intent of the phrase, “the devotion to American institutions and ideals,” the provision is open to legal challenge, and compliance with the statute has been uneven, especially in public higher education. We do well to remember the words of President George W. Bush with which he announced the We the People initiative to promote the study of United States history: “Our history is not a story of perfection. It’s a story of imperfect people working toward great ideals…When children are given the real history of America, they will also learn to love America.”

The REACH Act would remove the potentially problematic wording that has been a limitation on acceptance of this crucial initiative. In addition, the revised law would add the Emancipation Proclamation as an essential document in the study of U.S. history. Equally important, the proposed revisions require that the American history and government course be “three semester credit hours” and specify that it will be incorporated into degree requirements so that it “does not add to the total number of credit hours for any degree.” Finally, students must pass a “comprehensive examination” on the course’s content.

“South Carolina is on the verge of becoming a national leader in civic education,” said Michael Poliakoff, president of ACTA. “The renewal of civic education has never been more important. By mandating and enforcing the specific criteria outlined by the REACH Act, South Carolina ensures that all its public high school and public university graduates will be prepared for informed and engaged citizenship.”

MEDIA CONTACT: Connor Murnane
PHONE: (202) 798-5450


Launched in 1995, we are the only organization that works with alumni, donors, trustees, and education leaders across the United States to support liberal arts education, uphold high academic standards, safeguard the free exchange of ideas on campus, and ensure that the next generation receives an intellectually rich, high-quality college education at an affordable price.

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