The Path

The De-Constituting of America & Where We The People Are Being Led

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Letter to Our Son's 1st Grade Teacher

Dear Mrs. 1st Grade Teacher:
On Friday, September 17, 2005, following your class discussion of Constitution Day, our son, brought home an eight page paper discussing the Constitution. We greatly appreciate the class introduction into one of the most important documents ever written. We also understand the need to use age appropriate materials about this topic for first-graders.

However, given the excellent overall education quality in the City School District, we were shocked that such a basic presentation contained many gross inaccuracies about one of the most simply stated, yet most powerful guarantees of common citizen rights, while restraining government action in history—The United States Constitution.

In this letter, we want to draw your attention to these errors and provide our understanding of the Constitution.

As our first president, George Washington stated, “Government is not reason. Government is not eloquence. It is force. And, like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.”

As a result, it was inconceivable to find the first sentence on page one of the hand-out that “The Constitution is a set of rules that need to be followed by citizens who live in the USA.” The citizens who enumerated, or established, the rights and duties in the Constitution covered two primary topics:
1. Specific duties, responsibilities & procedures the people grant to the three separate, but equal, parts of the common government.
2. And, the permanent rights reserved by the people which the common government cannot infringe upon.

Patrick Henry countered this “set of rules for citizens” error best when he said, “The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government, lest it come to dominate our lives and interests.”

The Constitution is a set of rules for citizens to follow? Not likely. However, it does specify rules that government must follow and cannot take from citizens.

On hand-out page four, “The men & women who run the courts deal with citizens who break the laws” is the second misleading statement. The citizen suspected of breaking a federal law is not guilty until evidence is presented and a jury of her peers finds her guilty. The wording of the statement makes it seem that anyone in court has broken a law and by intimation is guilty. This is just not correct.

Other yet more egregious errors are found on page six. Of the seven “Bill of Rights” listed, only three of them are found in the Constitution’s first ten amendments commonly referred to as “The Bill of Rights,” ratified on December 15, 1791.

The four mistakenly listed amendments are far removed from the correct Bill of Rights, as they are typically understood, in both ratification dates & subject matter.
1. “Freedom from slavery”—is the 13th Amendment; Ratified on December 18, 1865, 74 years after the initial ten amendments.
2. “The Right to be a United States Citizen”—14th Amendment; Ratified on July 28, 1868; 77 years later…
3. “The Right of Citizens to vote at age 18”—26th Amendment; Ratified on July 5, 1971; 180 years later…
4. “The Right to Tax Citizens in order to “pay” for important things”—16th Amendment; Ratified on February 25, 1913; 122 years after the original ten Bill of Rights.

We know activities & information are typically taken from a textbook, but wouldn’t it have been simpler, and more accurate, to include a few more of the original ten amendments? “Right to Trial by Jury” and “Powers not given to the United States are kept by the People” are two examples of accurate, yet not used, rights listed in The Bill of Rights.

As Citizens, it is confusing to find such errors in our son’s education about the founding documents of our country. As concerned parents and teachers, we always try to provide correct information and when we make a mistake, we correct it and try to prevent it from happening in the future. As a result, we would like to inquire:
1. What review process did this information receive before being presented to the students?
2. If this was simply an oversight & has already been corrected, when & how did the students receive a more accurate lesson on our Constitution?


Two Constitutional Parents


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