Three former South Carolina governors have joined an initiative that would encourage high school students to take the civics portion of a test required for immigrants seeking American citizenship.
Former Republican governor James Edwards, along with ex-Democratic governors Jim Hodges and Dick Riley announced their support for the South Carolina Civics Initiative in a Wednesday conference call. The call was intentionally scheduled on the 227th anniversary of the U.S. Constitution’s signing.
Riley said civics education merits more attention than it’s currently receiving in schools. “This idea of civics education is so important for American students, all of them, to know the very basics,” the initiative’s co-chair said in the conference call. “I think it’s important to the country and it’s important to our country’s future.”
The group cited an Annenberg Public Policy Center study which found only one-third of Americans could name one of their government’s three branches.
“Understanding basic civics and how our government works needs to be a priority,” said Columbia restaurateur Bill Dukes, also a state co-chair. “Civic education will enable us to sustain our constitutional democracy. Our citizens must be informed and responsible. Our free and open society cannot succeed if our citizens don’t understand the fundamental values and principles of democracy.”
The Civics Education Initiative is asking state lawmakers to consider having students take the test, but not requiring it for graduation. Students could get extra credit on their GPA for a good score, according to a release from the group.