November 09, 2020
On September 17, 1952, Congress established Constitution day, to recognize the importance of the United States Constitution and the value of citizenship and civics in our daily lives. For over two centuries, the Constitution has reminded us of the importance of our nation's basis and formation: that we are a government of the people, by the people and for the people. Older than any other written national constitution in use today, our Constitution establishes a system of checks and balances designed to preserve liberty, promote prosperity and ensure the security of our great nation. While the policies and processes outlined in the Constitution still exist today – many young people are not properly taught about the liberties and freedoms this great document provides them.
Last year, my colleagues and I introduced the Constitution education Is Valuable In Community Schools (CIVICS) Act to support the development of Constitution and civics education curriculum for students across the country. As Constitution Day just passed, I can’t think of a better time to bring it up.
For far too long, we have allowed a level of civil ignorance to permeate into our society – simply due to a lack of teaching the document that formed our nation and set us on the path of prosperity that we know today. Not only is the Constitution the foundation for our entire country, it is also a roadmap for what we should be doing here in Congress: defending America and investing in infrastructure – connecting our people and commerce with well-maintained roads, bridges, highways and waterways. Yet, too often, we focus on teaching students about the people and what media portrays as the process – not the history or the principles that truly stand as the framework that governs these bodies today. That’s why we decided to introduce the CIVICS Act to support the development of Constitution and civics education curriculum for students across the country.
The American History and Civics Education program under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended, created grants for institutions of higher education and other organizations to develop evidence based approaches to improve the quality of education. Unfortunately, schools who receive these grants are not required to teach the Constitution. The CIVICS Act would simply address this shortfall and ensure recipients teach the Constitution—a document that we know will materially improve education standards across the country.
The Preamble asserts that the Constitution was written, in part, to secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and future generations. We believe the best way to honor that promise is to instill the value of rights and self-governance in our young citizens. By enacting the CIVICS Act and emphasizing the importance of the Constitution in civics education, we can encourage more young Americans to be active participants in our democracy, by communicating with their elected officials, engaging in advocacy and, when eligible, voting in state, local and federal elections. If you believe students should be required to learn about the Constitution, we urge you to contact your Senators and Representatives and let them know you support the CIVICS Act.