Here’s why civics education should teach students how to self-govern

In April, Supreme Court Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Neil Gorsuch called for improving civics education, saying the future of the republic depends on it. Indeed, the United States has never needed civics education more. The differences between opposing parties on the governing principles of our country are greater today than at any time in our history, even during the Civil War.

That’s not hyperbole. Looking at the Constitution of the Confederate States, it’s clear that both sides felt they were defending the U.S. Constitution. On the other hand, today’s battle is between two opposing views of how we govern ourselves.

There is a lot at stake. Congress is debating major changes to the core constitutional principle of checks and balances by increasing the number of Supreme Court justices and abolishing the electoral college. If implemented, these ideas would fundamentally change the Constitution. Our citizens, especially our student citizens, should understand the ramifications, whether they believe the country needs such dramatic changes or not.…Read More

Fight over effective teachers shifts to courtroom

They have tried and failed to loosen tenure rules for teachers in contract talks and state legislatures, The New York Times reports. So now, a group of rising stars in the movement to overhaul education employment has gone to court. In a small, wood-paneled courtroom here this week, nine public school students are challenging California’s ironclad tenure system, arguing that their right to a good education is violated by job protections that make it too difficult to fire bad instructors. But behind the students stand a Silicon Valley technology magnate who is financing the case and an all-star cast of lawyers that includes Theodore B. Olson, the former solicitor general of the United States, who recently won the Supreme Court case that effectively overturned the state’s ban on same-sex marriage…

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EDSITEment offers a grand tour of time and place

The EDSITEment site is a valuable resource for social studies, language arts, and art history teachers of any grade level. The site is sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities in conjunction with the Council of the Great City Schools, MCI, and the National Trust for the Humanities.

A page called Top Humanities Websites links teachers with dozens of the most interesting and informative sites in their field. Links include the American Verse Project (http://www.hti.umich.edu/english/amverse), an electronic archive of poetry before 1920, and Oyez, Oyez, Oyez: the Supreme Court WWW Resource.

Our favorite link, listed under three of the four categories, is the American Memory Project (http://memory.loc.gov), a Library of Congress site that offers a fascinating collection of resources such as photographs, documents, maps, motion pictures, and sound recordings. Through the Motion Pictures link, we were able to download and watch some of the earliest motion picture recordings, such as Edison’s “The Great Train Robbery,” an 11-minute silent film recorded in 1903. …Read More