By Henry Lamb
All Senator Robert Byrd wanted to do was to encourage public schools to teach "something" about the U.S. Constitution on September 17 - the day when the historic document was signed in 1787. Byrd successfully added language to the appropriations bill requiring schools that receive federal money to recognize September 17 by focusing attention on the U.S. Constitution, in any way the school chooses.
Immediately, David Salisbury, of the Cato Institute, criticized Byrd, and the Senate, for trying to dictate to the states what schools must teach. Salisbury was not alone; many people believe that education is a state function, in which the feds should not interfere.
The problem of federal interference in state and local education is far more serious than Senator Byrd's desire to recognize the U.S. Constitution. The federal government has assigned the task of developing curriculum for American students to The Center for Civic Education. A civics textbook written by this organization "We the People; the Citizen and the Constitution," reveals very little information about the U.S. Constitution, or why it is the best document ever devised for self-governance. Instead, the text promotes a multi-cultural, international set of values and attitudes, to prepare students to become "world citizens."
Senator Byrd's effort to get schools to teach "something" about the Constitution on at least one day in the school year, pales by comparison, to the on-going efforts of the one-worlders in the federal government to transform the nation, to fit into their view of a global village.
Fortunately, there are other efforts afoot to promote the U.S. Constitution, and the reasons why it is the document that produced the greatest nation in the history of the world.
Utah businessman, Bert Smith, helped to launch an effort to make a small pocket-size version of the Constitution widely available at, or below cost. In just the first couple of years, the program has distributed nearly a half-million of these little booklets. A New York police department bought copies for the entire police force. Every new recruit receives a copy as a part of his training. Churches, and community organizations are distributing the Constitution to their members. School teachers and scoutmasters are providing this powerful document as the basis for lessons on the foundation of our nation.
One of the most popular Constitution sites on the web is the U.S. Constitution Annotated. Published every 10 years by the federal government, this massive document provides not only historical information about the Constitution, but also footnotes to every Supreme Court case that affects the Constitution. This version is searchable by a unique search engine that returns the search term in the context in which the term appears, along with links to all related Court decisions.
Led by EdWatch, local citizens in Minnesota have resisted the federal "one-world" curriculum, and are working to get state and local school officials to base history and civics studies squarely on the U.S. Constitution. This effort has inspired local organizations in many states to review school textbooks and to become involved in local efforts to reject the federal curriculum.
Few subjects are as important to the future of America as a thorough understanding and appreciation of the U.S. Constitution, by every school student. It is not enough to simply praise the document as one of the foundations of our nation. It is essential that students learn why and how the Constitution governs the structure and function of government.
It is crucial that students learn that government is empowered by the consent of the governed; not the other way around. They must learn that this power is transmitted to the government through the election process, and that they, individually, bear the responsibility to choose candidates who reflect their views. They must learn that freedom in America is the reason why America has prospered.
Freedom is neither granted, nor guaranteed by the government. Government can only limit freedom. Freedom is granted by the Creator, and guaranteed by responsible individuals who hold their government accountable. A thorough knowledge and appreciation of the U.S. Constitution is the first step toward becoming a responsible citizen. The next step is to continually act on that knowledge, to keep government within the limits of power to which the people consent.
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