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Guidance Issued on Constitution Day

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The Department of Education has released its guidelines to schools for implementing a new federal requirement for teaching the U.S. Constitution in public schools.

Constitution Day is to be commemorated on Sept. 17 each year—marking the anniversary of the signing of the founding document—with related lessons for K-12 students, according to a May 24 notice in the Federal Register. When the date falls on a weekend or holiday, schools will be required to teach the lessons the week before or after.

The requirement for public schools receiving federal funds to teach about the Constitution was approved by Congress as a clause in a domestic-spending bill passed in December. ("Some Fret as Congress Passes Measures on History, Civics Education," Jan. 5, 2005.)

Federal officials have long been prohibited from dictating instructional content. While the Education Department notice suggests resources for designing appropriate lessons for the day, it states it does not endorse any particular curriculum or program.

Vol. 24, Issue 39, Page 26

Published in Print: June 8, 2005, as Guidance Issued on Constitution Day

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