Last Thursday, Sept. 17, was the 222nd anniversary of the signing of the United States Constitution, and while most adults in the U.S. may have let the day come and go without acknowledgement, the nation’s school children learned about the Constitution in their classrooms.
Public Law 108-447 designates Sept. 17 as Constitution Day, and all educational institutions receiving federal funding are required to hold an educational program pertaining to the United States Constitution on Sept. 17 of each year.
Jane Anderson, a seventh-grade teacher at Akimel A-al Middle School, found it easy to assimilate a lesson on the Constitution into her social studies class, which is currently studying the Civil War.
“I always try to let my students lead me to what they find interesting, and when we were talking about President Lincoln, they didn’t understand how he could only be elected by the North and not the South,” Anderson said.
Her students’ questions about Lincoln’s presidency led her to create her Constitution-based lesson on how the Constitution provides for the Electoral College, which actually elects the President of the United States.
“Our founding fathers thought that the common man wasn’t smart enough to elect the president, so they created the Electoral College,” Anderson told her students, explaining that the use of the Electoral College led to the election of President Lincoln because the North had a larger population and, therefore, a larger number of electoral votes than the South.
“President Lincoln did not start the Civil War solely because of slavery,” she told her students. “Article six of the Constitution created the Supremacy Clause, which states that the Constitution is the supreme law of the land. When the South seceded they violated the Constitution that each state had previously signed.”
Anderson also tied the relevance of the Electoral College back to current day issues, citing the presidential election of 2000, when candidate Al Gore won the popular vote but lost the presidency to former President George W. Bush, who received more electoral votes.
“I believe that you have to learn about the past to understand the present and change the future,” Anderson said. “I want to excite my students about history, and they were engaged today in this lesson about the Constitution and Electoral College.”
For more information on Constitution Day, visit www.constitutioncenter.org.