By Sarah Hurd & Natalie Schaefer
In 2004, Congress passed a law designating September 17th as Constitution Day. According to the statute, the purpose of the day is to help our students gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of the United States Constitution. Schools may choose from a variety of options for meeting the requirements of the statute. Programs may range from school-wide observances such as assemblies, announcements, bulletin boards or other visuals to support direct instruction, and/or interdisciplinary projects to a classroom-based study related to the Constitution. The Constitution Day program is meant as a one-day special focus on the Constitution and not as a unit of study.
The Senate Historical Office says it well, “More than two centuries after its ratification, the United States Constitution remains a fundamental document. Strengthened by amendments, it continues to guide our public officials and the people they serve. It has endured through civil war, economic depressions, assassinations, and even terrorist attacks, and remains a source of wisdom and inspiration. To encourage Americans to learn more about the Constitution, Congress established Constitution Week in 1956, to begin each year on September 17—the date in 1787 when delegates to the federal convention signed the Constitution. In 2004 Senator Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia took it a step further, sponsoring legislation designating September 17 of each year as Constitution Day and requiring public schools and government offices to provide educational programs to promote a better understanding of the Constitution. The Constitution of 1787 established the framework for the United States government, but it has fallen to succeeding generations to interpret and implement its principles. Every year, Constitution Day provides the opportunity for citizens to revisit the nation’s founding document and examine how it shapes this nation more than two centuries after its ratification”.
We are committed to the idea that activities developed to meet this law should not be something added to a social studies curriculum that is already replete with content and skills. Many of the suggestions for this one-day observance can be used as a springboard for continued study of (and connections to) the U.S. Constitution. Civics is embedded in Jeffco’s K-8 curriculum and has a stand-alone course in high school. There are also companion opportunities in our Modern US History, World History, and Economics courses for teachers to include civic related content.
Curriculum & Instruction