Sunday, July 24, 2005

Civics Lessons

1.8 million civilian employees of the federal government will now be required by law to receive "education and training" about The Constitution of the United States. Senator Robert C. Byrd (D.- W.Va.) is responsible for the language added to the recent spending package passing congress. He said polls show that a third of Americans don't even know how many branches of government there are (three). "Our Constitution is not a mere dry piece of dead parchment," but a revered and living document that has helped inspire our nation to achieve seemingly impossible goals and keep alive irrepressible hope, even in the face of unanticipated and sometimes unbearable adversity."

The Washington Post article presents the story as well as employee responses, some from those who "celebrate" the new law as an opportunity to learn more about the document they took a pledge to uphold and others who question why taxpayers are funding mandatory civics lessons. I waffle around the middle on this topic: While it seems a particularly good time for increased awareness of The Constitution, I wonder whether the federal government should assume responsibility for what each of us as citizens ought to do/know/read for ourselves. Any thoughts on this?

Armando at Daily Kos is at the beginning of a conversation discussing the controversy that can surround a reading of the Constitution. He highlights the perspective of "a living document" here before going on to address "originalism" tomorrow. The more than 250 comments already on that post make for great reading.


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2 comments:

Kat said...

Might I suggest using Schoolhouse Rock on elevators and in lunchrooms. We have The Preamble and I'm a Bill. Then we could branch out to the Revolution and play No More Kings, Fireworks and one of my favorites, Fifty Nifty United States. I still remember how to spell E-N-C-Y-C-L-O-P-E-D-I-A tahnks to Jimny Cricket.

Mary Godwin said...

I hadn't thought of working all this out in music, Kat, though you remind me of my own post on July Fourth this year ... The Declaration of Independence performed by The Fifth Dimension. Like "encyclopedia" for you, I can still recite the Declaration because of the song - well, it might better be said that I can "sing" it. Good to see you at B.E., Kat!