Educators Celebrate Constitution Day, Release Resources to Help Teach Important Civics Lessons
WASHINGTON—Today is Constitution Day, the anniversary of the signing of the Constitution at the Constitutional Convention. It’s a day to reflect about both the freedoms and the responsibilities we have because of that document. It’s what our founders envisioned, as amended and interpreted over generations to enable more and more people to partake in those freedoms and embrace those responsibilities.
America’s teachers understand the Constitution’s importance—after all, they are charged with the teaching of accurate, age-appropriate, honest history, civics and democracy and with helping our next generation become engaged citizens and informed, thoughtful stewards of the American experiment.
This Constitution Day is an inflection point because the principles of that very document are under attack, as extremists attempt to subvert our free and fair elections, disrupt the peaceful transfer of power, and dismantle civics education in our classrooms, censoring curriculums so students can’t learn about important topics like civil rights, voting rights and more. For the first time in decades, we’re seeing rights taken away regularly instead of expanded, narrowing access to basic justice, progress and opportunity.
But the Constitution belongs to all of us, and the basic rights and freedoms outlined in the document belong to all of us too. Teachers teach their students about those freedoms—and about the basic tenets of our democracy—and help them understand the very foundation of our republic. There should be nothing partisan or political about it. And we must call out the insidious attempt by extremist politicians to insert their beliefs into the classroom and legislate what teachers can teach.
As we recognize Constitution Day this year, so much is stake—our institutions, our rights and our ability to teach—making these lessons about civics and democracy more important than ever. So the Albert Shanker Institute and Share My Lesson are launching a series of teach-ins on the Constitution and its principles, such as the rule of law; constitutional freedoms; the Civil War amendments, which dealt with slavery; voter rights; and tribal sovereignty. These teach-ins will provide content knowledge on the rights granted in the Constitution, with teachable strategies for the classroom, and will tackle the very issues eroding our democracy and freedoms today, from book banning to protests and more. Our country’s educators will continue to do their part to help ensure our children know the basic tenets of our democracy and why they’re worth protecting.
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The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.