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

Supremes: Stop (texting) in the name of love

Public employers can monitor their employees' communication on work-issued devices, the Supreme Court ruled.
Public employers can monitor their employees' communication on work-issued devices, the Supreme Court ruled.

The U.S. Supreme Court had a message June 17 for workers with cell phones and other devices provided by their employers: Use your own cell phone if you’ve got something to text that you don’t want your boss to read.

In a case with direct implications for employees at public schools and colleges, the justices unanimously upheld a police department’s search of an officer’s personal, sometimes sexually explicit, messages on a government-owned pager, saying the search did not violate his constitutional rights.…Read More

Supreme Court hears text-messaging privacy case

The U.S. Supreme Court will likely rule that government employees have no right to privacy when they send text messages using their business phones.
The Supreme Court will decide whether government employees should have any expectation of privacy when they send text messages using work-issued phones.

In a case with implications for public schools and colleges, the U.S. Supreme Court appears likely to rule against public employees who claimed a local government violated their right to privacy by reading racy text messages they sent through their employers’ account.

Several justices said April 19 that the employer, the Ontario, Calif., police department, acted reasonably in monitoring the text messages in view of its written policy warning employees they have no guarantee of privacy in the use of office computer and electronics equipment.…Read More

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