Article by Bryan Howard
March 20, 2019
South Carolina Republicans have proposed a bill that has recently passed the state Senate called the “Reinforcing College Education on America’s Constitutional Heritage Act” or the “REACH Act”. This bill would require state funded Universities to require a course teaching the U.S. Constitution in order to graduate. But Democrats argued for over an hour on the floor opposing this bill.
The Bill intro reads as, https://www.scstatehouse.gov/sess123_2019-2020/bills/35.htm
“TO ENACT THE “REINFORCING COLLEGE EDUCATION ON AMERICA’S CONSTITUTIONAL HERITAGE ACT” OR THE “REACH ACT”, TO AMEND SECTION 59-29-120(A), RELATING TO THE STUDY OF THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION REQUISITE FOR GRADUATION, TO PROVIDE THAT EACH PUBLIC HIGH SCHOOL MUST PROVIDE INSTRUCTION CONCERNING THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION, THE FEDERALIST PAPERS, AND THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE TO EACH STUDENT FOR AT LEAST ONE YEAR; TO AMEND SECTION 59-29-130, RELATING TO THE DURATION OF INSTRUCTION IN THE ESSENTIALS OF THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION, TO PROVIDE THAT EACH INSTITUTION OF HIGHER LEARNING MUST PROVIDE INSTRUCTION CONCERNING THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION, THE FEDERALIST PAPERS, AND THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE TO EACH UNDERGRADUATE STUDENT FOR THREE SEMESTER CREDIT HOURS; AND TO REPEAL SECTION 59-29-140, RELATING TO THE ENFORCEMENT OF THE PROGRAM OF STUDY OF THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION BY THE STATE SUPERINTENDENT OF EDUCATION.”
“All public institutions of higher learning, as defined in Section 59-103-5, must provide instruction in the essentials of the United States Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the Emancipation Proclamation, the Federalist Papers, and the study of American institutions and history, including African-American history, and ideals. No public institution of higher learning may grant a certificate of graduation for any baccalaureate degree program to any student unless he successfully completes the requirements described in subsection (B).”
(a) read the United States Constitution in its entirety;
(b) read the Declaration of Independence in its entirety;
(c) read the Emancipation Proclamation in its entirety;
(d) read a minimum of five essays in their entirety from the Federalist Papers as selected by an instructor; and
(e) pass a comprehensive examination, testing for student proficiency in the provisions and principles of the United States Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the Emancipation Proclamation, and the Federalist Papers.
The Daily Caller noted the Democrats obstruction of the bill, “Democratic South Carolina State Reps. Ivory Thigpen and Wendy Brawley argued the cost of the course, which Thigpen referred to as “Constitution 101,” may be transferred onto students. They also pointed to a representative from USC who argued against the bill’s requirement that students pass a comprehensive exam covering the course material to graduate.”
The Daily Caller noted Republicans argument to remove other classes for this course, “Republican South Carolina State Rep. Garry Smith, who is sponsoring the bill in the House, pointed to several classes not required by law that USC could stop offering if it wanted to cut costs, such as a class on “Global Citizenship.””
“I would argue that if you can’t pass a comprehensive exam on the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, then maybe you shouldn’t graduate,” Smith said.
Universities in South Carolina were already required by law in 1924 to teach students the Constitution in order to graduate, but they have been ignoring the law for many years now.