PHILADELPHIA -- To help schools participate in Constitution Day this fall, educators and media organizations are providing free, timely, classroom-ready broadcasts and teaching materials to educational institutions and public forums nationwide. Highlights include U.S. Supreme Court justices Sandra Day O'Connor and Stephen Breyer answering student's questions about the Constitution in a video special being broadcast online and via satellite at noon and 3 p.m. (EDT), Sept. 16. A second video broadcast that afternoon will feature a live "Justice Talking" special with First Amendment experts. Curricular and other learning resources are also available at www.justicelearning.org.
"At a time when surveys show that many Americans know very little about the U.S. Constitution, Constitution Day provides a unique teaching opportunity," said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg Public Policy Center, a lead sponsor of the civics-education initiative. "We're pleased to offer no-cost, classroom-ready resources that will make it easier for students and educators to take part in Constitution Day. I am particularly pleased that our award-winning NPR program "Justice Talking" is offering the nation's schools a balanced, thoughtful debate on the meaning of the First Amendment on Constitution Day.
Hundreds of middle and high schools and colleges and universities from Hawaii to Florida have expressed interest in using the broadcasts to create educational activities. Legal organizations, too, hope to take advantage of the programs. For example, the U.S. Supreme Court plans to show the video special with the justices to its visitors on the days surrounding Constitution Day and the federal court system is working with its judges to invite students to watch and discuss it. Showcase events are planned in New York City and Washington, D.C., Sept. 16, and programs are in the planning stages in other cities including Chicago, sponsored by the American Bar Association, and in Philadelphia, at the National Constitution Center.
In Washington, D.C, NPR's Margot Adler will host a "Justice Talking" special video-cast on "Free Speech in the Digital Age" with First Amendment attorney Floyd Abrams, Motion Picture Association Past President and CEO Jack Valenti and Stanford Law Professor Lawrence Lessig. The debate, which will take place at the William G. McGowan Theater at the National Archives, will be broadcast online and via satellite from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. (EDT).
In New York City, Caroline Kennedy will welcome students to a discussion at the New York Times featuring the Supreme Court justices video special. The half-hour video will be broadcast online and via satellite at noon and 3 p.m. (EDT).
"We're finding that teachers, administrators, judges and lawyers are eager to help young people make the connection between the Constitution and current events, recognizing that this 200-year-old document shaped our history and charts our future, said Kathryn Kolbert, executive producer of NPR "Justice Talking" and JusticeLearning.org.
The Constitution Day Made Easy broadcasts and companion materials are made possible by the Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands and the Foundation for the National Archives. The civics education initiative is co-sponsored by the Annenberg Public Policy Center radio series "Justice Talking" in cooperation with the National Archives and Records Administration, the New York Times Knowledge Network and a dozen educational and legal organizations.
Registration and technical information about the broadcasts can be found at www.justicelearning.org.