Constitution Day

Can I get a big eye roll over the mandate, recently getting press, that all schools and colleges receiving any federal funding must recognize September 17th as Constitution Day and offer an educational program on the constitution on that day? The Department of Education’s notice on the topic does make it clear they’re flexible about the form of such a program, but it’s still being required. Woo hoo – I know I feel better with Congress setting curricular requirements without any pedagogical justification for such an approach to educating students on the topic. I doubt that there are school boards out there saying that high school students don’t have to learn about the constitution. And I don’t deny that there are still students who come out of school without an appreciation for what the constitution really says and means. But setting aside a Constitution Day doesn’t seem like the solution – my recollection of such events is that they were basically vacation days from classes and homework. I’m sure they can be effective in reaching some students, but it’s not the only and probably not the most effective way. Better to encourage teachers to think about ways to relate the constitution and its principles to their content throughout the year. Discussing with students whether they really have a “right” to privacy, to information, or to the many other things they believe they have a right to, and what it means, in the context of the Constitution to actually have a “right” is a more teachable moment, in my mind, than another federally mandated hoop to jump through.

2 thoughts on “Constitution Day

  1. Yes, you got an eye roll from me on this one! Hard to believe that the same Congress that brought us The Patriot Act has also brought us a mandated Constitution Day. I think Congress is the one who should brush up on the contents of the Constitution.
    I loved the scene in the movie “Farenheit 9/11” where it became apparent that a percentage of the reps who voted for The Patriot Act had never actually read it…and Michael Moore rented an ice cream truck and drove around town reading it over the loudspeaker. Whatever it takes.
    P.S. Thanks for maintaining an archives of your postings, so I can go back and see what I missed before I caught on to “Screenshots”!

  2. I’m excited you’re reading through the archives! It’s motiviating me to keep moving with adding old entries – I’ve got the rest of 2002 and then 2001 to get up. Then I’ll have to decide whether I want to unearth and post the even older entries….
    But I’m going to try to get 2002 and 2001 up by the end of the year.

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