Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Constitution Day and the John Birch Society's kind offer

A couple weeks ago, someone from the John Birch Society left a letter and CD in the mailbox of the social studies teachers at my school. It reminded them that Constitution Day is Wednesday, September 17th, explained that they were legally obligated to teach about the constitution on that day, according to Public Law 108-477(b), and suggested they use the CD provided.

The law actually says a school receiving federal funds has to present some sort of program about the constitution. I haven't read the letter personally yet, but the teacher I spoke with got the impression from it that teachers were supposed to individually teach about the constitution that day. He thought it was basically a good idea, but worried it would not be as effective as it could be since it would not be closely related with the current unit of study and be taught to half of his students the day after because of the A/B block schedule. He also jokingly wondered what the John Birch Society would think if he presented the view of the constitution as a living document, subject to modern interpretation.

I think constitutional principles should be integrated into most components of social studies curriculum, and for that matter, much of the curriculum for other classes. And I think that some sort of program or teaching moment about the importance of the constitution is probably a good thing today, but I don't know that a law mandating it on this specific day is necessary. It kind of seems artificial and ineffective. In my opinion, a teacher skillfully involving the students with relevant principles during class can be a strong, positive influence on teens, while some preachy, mandated message is usually ignored. At least it's better than the proposed state law mandating that the constitution be displayed in every classroom--a meaningless gesture with some cost attached that wouldn't achieve anything.


ng2000 said...

Valuable resource of constitution news summaries:

Ian smith said...

The State Office of Education is failing to ensure school districts leave no child behind, a matter that could put at risk nearly $53 million in federal dollars that largely help struggling children and those in low-income neighborhoods, according to state education figures and a federal audit obtained by the Deseret Morning News.


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