COLUMBIA — The James B. Edwards Civics Education Initiative, passed by S.C. General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. Nikki Haley, will help evaluate and measure the effectiveness of current civics and government instruction by requiring all students to take the 100-question U.S. Citizenship Civics Test.
While passage of the test is not mandatory for graduation, results of the test will be submitted to the Education Oversight Committee for evaluation of current civics education programs.
Initially spearheaded by a bi-partisan group of business leaders and former elected officials, the legislation was shepherded through the General Assembly by Rep. James Smith and Sen. Chip Campsen. They were joined by Reps. Bruce Bannister, Gary Simrill and Beth Bernstein and Sens. Glen Reese, Greg Gregory and Brad Hutto.
The final version passed without any opposition in either the House or Senate under the direction of Education Committee leaders in both chambers: Chairman Rita Allison and Rep. Tommy Stringer in the House and Chairman John Courson and Sen. Wes Hayes in the Senate. State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman was also critical during this process.
“I was proud to see both houses and both parties of the General Assembly rally around this effort,” said Smith. “Our high school graduates are also our newest voters, and we must ensure they know the basic facts about our government if we expect them to make informed decisions or be engaged in the process. The fact that this bill passed without a single vote against it in either chamber speaks volumes.”
South Carolina joins Arizona, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Idaho, Tennessee and Louisiana in passing civics education legislation this year.
The “Civics Education Initiative” was launched nationally in 2014 by the Joe Foss Institute, an Arizona-based non-profit started by the former two-term governor of South Dakota and first commissioner of the American Football League.
The Joe Foss Institute seeks to pass civics education legislation in all 50 states by the 230th anniversary of the signing of the Constitution on Sept. 17, 2017. Visit www.civicseducationinitiative.com for more information.