Posted By Administration,
Saturday, August 9, 2014
Updated: Wednesday, August 9, 2017
Topeka judges really know how to celebrate Constitution Day! For the last few years, several judges from the Kansas Court of Appeals and Shawnee County District Court have visited schools in the Topeka area to facilitate a variety of entertaining and educational Constitution Day activities. Some classes had students role play as judges. Other classes presented short skits or had students debate whether certain factual scenarios violate the Bill of Rights. Last year, these judges worked with teachers Susan Sittenauer and Deb Stewart to coordinate presentations in every school in the Seaman School District – to over 2,000 students. Way to go!
If you would like an attorney or a judge to visit your classroom for Constitution Day, please call your local bar association and ask about their speakers’ bureau. Materials to assist lawyers and others in making Constitution Day presentations are available from Anne Woods, the Public Services Manager for the Kansas Bar Association. Just request a free copy of the Constitution Day speakers’ materials at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In Kansas, we celebrate Constitution Day as part of “celebrate freedom week.” Last year, as you may recall, the Kansas legislature designated the week of September 17 as “celebrate freedom week” in K-8 public schools, and required each board of education to promote it annually. The legislature chose that date because our United States Constitution was signed on September 17, 1787. The goal of this week is to educate students about the values on which the USA was founded, and the sacrifices made for freedom during the founding of our country.
So what is to be taught? The law requires the following:
Teaching the original intent, meaning, and importance of the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution (including its Bill of Rights) in their historical contexts;
Not censoring the religious references in the writings of the founding fathers, when presented as part of this instruction; and
Showing the relationship of the ideas expressed in the Declaration of Independence to subsequent American history, including:
the rich diversity of our people as a nation of immigrants,
the American revolution,
the formulation of the United States Constitution, and the abolitionist movement, which led to the Emancipation Proclamation and the women’s suffrage movement.