The United States Constitution is the supreme law of the land. It is the source of all government powers, and also provides important limitations on the government that protect the fundamental rights of every United States citizen.
Our Constitution is arguably the most important political document in the history of the world. It has remained virtually unchanged since 1787 and has influenced the constitutions of many other nations.
The Constitution Foundation was created because of alarming studies that show students are graduating high school with little knowledge of US History. As Americans, our heritage is defined by our founding documents; specifically the Constitution.
In today’s society only one in three can name a single Supreme Court Justice, but two in three can name a single judge from the TV show American Idol.
More people know the names of the Three Stooges than the three branches of the Federal government.
Isn’t this a bit scary and downright terrifying? How do you go about “preserving and protecting” a Constitution that many know nothing about?
According to 2010 civics test results, less than a quarter of eighth and twelfth graders are above proficiency. The results were even worse on the U.S. history test, where only 18 percent of eighth graders and 13 percent of twelfth graders scored above proficient.
On the NAEP, which is an international test, only 1 percent of eighth graders and 4 percent of twelfth graders were deemed “advanced” in civics.
One reason for American students’ poor performance is the decline in time devoted to civics and history education since the 1980s. Schools devote less time to social studies because of a greater emphasis on increasing student achievement in math and reading.
In short, because of a nationwide push to improve student reading and math achievement, schools have shifted time from science, history, and the arts to English language arts and math.
Students also are less interested in public or political issues than were previous generations and exhibit gaps in their knowledge of fundamental democratic principles and processes.
Today, at least half of the states don’t even require high school students to take civics; only three states require it in middle school.
Teaching government, civics and history is becoming a more pressing need than before. With school cutbacks, the Internet distracting students, and the disappearance of traditional newspapers and TV news shows that report information objectively, students have become increasingly disengaged from civic and political life.
September 17 is recognized in the United States as Constitution Day and Citizenship Day. The purpose of Constitution Day and Citizenship Day is to commemorate the creation and signing of the supreme law of the land and to honor and celebrate the privileges and responsibilities of US citizenship for both native-born and naturalized citizens.
The Constitution Foundation will take this opportunity to reach out to classrooms all over Florida to provide a “Support Our Constitution” presentation complete with hand-outs and a pocket Constitution. We will provide dedicated trained members of the community to reach as many schools as possible.