This summer we got yet another reminder that the Constitution is the foundation of the liberties we enjoy in the United States. In a 9-0 ruling, the Supreme Court struck down Barack Obama’s illegal and ultraliberal recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board. I never cease to marvel at the wisdom of the Founding Fathers in crafting a charter of liberties that, over two centuries after it was written, continues to protect us from the arbitrary exercise of authority.Wednesday, September 17 is Constitution Day – the 227th anniversary of the signing of the Constitution at Independence Hall in 1787. Constitution Day is a wonderful opportunity to pass on the values of the Constitution to the next generation.
Wednesday, September 17 is Constitution Day – the 227th anniversary of the signing of the Constitution at Independence Hall in 1787. Constitution Day is a wonderful opportunity to pass on the values of the Constitution to the next generation.
I urge you to talk to your child’s teachers and school administrators, and the members of your local school board, and ask them what they are doing to observe Constitution Day.
Here in Massachusetts, the law requires that in “In all public elementary and high schools American history and civics, including the constitution of the United States, the declaration of independence and the bill of rights…shall be taught as required subjects for the purpose of promoting civic service and a greater knowledge thereof, and of fitting the pupils, morally and intellectually, for the duties of citizenship.” (ALM GL ch. 71, §2)
I also note there is a requirement for the Governor of Massachusetts to proclaim Constitution Day (ALM GL ch. 6, §15A). While “His Excellency Governor Deval L. Patrick” has proclaimed Constitution Day in two of his seven years in office (in 2011 and 2012), the proclamations conclude with a relatively weak “… And urge all the citizens of the Commonwealth to take cognizance of this event and participate fittingly in its observance.” The law sets a loftier expectation of the Governor:
Section 15A. The governor shall annually issue a proclamation setting apart the seventeenth day of September as Constitution Day and recommending that it be observed by the people with appropriate exercises in the schools and otherwise so that the eventful day on which the Constitution of the United States was formally adopted may forever remain enshrined in the hearts and minds of the people, and so that they may be reminded on that date annually of the blessings of liberty which they enjoy by the adoption of the United States Constitution, the Bill of Rights and all other amendments thereto.
I fully embrace the sentiment of the proclamation the law instructs the governor to “annually issue.” Even in absence of the legally required proclamation, the two sections of law together strongly point to September 17th as being the perfect day to observe Constitution Day by instructing students on the importance of the Constitution in civics and our history of self governance.
A list of some of the online resources available to help them (or to use at home) appears below. They’re all good, but a couple stand out:
The Constitutional Rights Foundation’s Constitution Day page contains Lesson Plans for all age groups, from plays for 3rd through 5th graders about the dangers of unwarranted search and seizure and the importance of trial by jury, to readings for older students about the major issues at the Constitutional Convention. http://www.crf-usa.org/constitution-day/constitution-day-lesson-plans-kindergarten-middle-and-high-school.html
- Constitution USA. This entertaining 4-part series from PBS is hosted by Peter Sagal of Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me (clearly a source that won’t be objectionable to left-wing educators!) It covers many of today’s disputes about the Constitution, such as gun rights, the EPA, and federal laws against medical marijuana. Mr. Sagal interviews people on both sides of the aisle, so you’ll hear some things that you don’t agree with, but also much that you do. http://www.pbs.org/tpt/constitution-usa-peter-sagal/home/
Feel free to e-mail me at email@example.com and let me know how it goes with the school. Greater Boston Tea Party is dedicated to opening the eyes of our fellow citizens to the Constitution. We’re eager to share any stories about what works (and learn from what doesn’t!).
If you would like to obtain some of those pocket Constitutions in bulk for distribution at your child’s school, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can make arrangements to get them to you.
I would like to thank Mike Isenberg for pulling the resource material for this together, and for the other members of the GBTP Steering Committee for their contributions as well.
Thank you for your support. Let’s work together to make Constitution Day 2014 a day when our message of Constitutional government rings loud and clear.
President, Greater Boston Tea Party
Teaching the Constitution – Online Resources
- Constitution 2014 from ConstitutionFacts.com http://www.constitutionday.cc/ Be sure to take the Constitution IQ quiz.
- Constitution USA with Peter Sagal. 4-part PBS series with host of Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me http://www.pbs.org/tpt/constitution-usa-peter-sagal/home/
- To Sign or Not To Sign: The Ultimate Constitution Day Lesson Plan from the National Constitution Center http://constitutioncenter.org/learn/educational-resources/lesson-plans/to-sign-or-not-to-sign-the-ultimate-constitution-day-lesson-plan Material to facilitate a classroom debate on the premise it’s 1787 and you’re at the Convention. Should you sign?
- Constituting America (Janine Turner) http://www.constitutingamerica.org/
- National Center for Constitutional Studies http://www.nccs.net/
- The Allan P Kirby, Jr. Center for Constitutional Studies and Citizenship at Hillsdale College http://kirbycenter.hillsdale.edu/resources
- Our own Catherine White http://www.constitutiondecoded.com/
- Essays on the Constitution of the United States http://www.thefederalistpapers.org/ebooks/essays-on-the-constitution-of-the-united-states.
- Constitutional Rights Foundation Constitution Day Lesson Plans http://www.crf-usa.org/constitution-day/constitution-day-lesson-plans-kindergarten-middle-and-high-school.html
- Young Americans for Liberty Young Adult Education http://readitsaveit.com/resources/young-adult-education/
- Young Americans for Liberty Child Education http://readitsaveit.com/resources/child-education/
- EdHelper.com Constitution Day and Constitution Week Theme Unit http://www.edhelper.com/Constitution_Day.htm
- USConstitution.net The Constitution for Kids http://www.usconstitution.net/constkidsK.html
- Publius Huldah’s Blog – Understanding the Constitution http://publiushuldah.wordpress.com
- National Archives Observing Constitution Day Page http://www.archives.gov/education/lessons/constitution-day/