Tennessee students will get more lessons on the history of American’s founding, thanks to a bill passed by the state legislature and signed into law by Gov. Haslam last week.
The week of Sept. 17 will be designated as Celebrate Freedom Week in K-12 public schools. The law goes into effect in 2018.
Sept. 17 is already known nationally as Constitution Day, and Sept. 17-23 is Constitution Week, in recognition of the signing of the U.S. Constitution on Sept. 17, 1787.
State Rep. David Byrd (R-Waynesboro), who sponsored the legislation in the House, told The Tennessee Star he’s not sure schools statewide are uniformly emphasizing Constitution Week and that’s one reason he wanted to introduce Celebrate Freedom Week, which already is recognized in several other states. It also will give educators already familiar with Constitution Week some extra resources, Byrd said.
The bill was sponsored in the Senate by Joey Hensley (R-Hohenwald).
Celebrate Freedom Week is primarily designed to give attention to the purpose and meaning of the original texts of our founding documents, including the Declaration of Independence. But other events in American history that relate to founding principles may also be discussed.
It gives Byrd the chills to watch man-on-the-street interviews conducted by Fox News’ Jesse Watters, who frequently catches people unaware of basic historical facts. “It’s kind of embarrassing,” said Byrd, who wants to do his part to keep his fellow Tennesseans from being similarly flummoxed.
“I feel like our nation – our true identity – has changed a little bit,” Byrd said. “I’d like to get it back to what it was meant to be. I feel like we don’t understand our Constitution anymore.”
A retired educator and coach, Byrd said that in doing research for the bill he gained a new appreciation for the founding documents and the men who wrote them.
“I’m amazed at how brilliant our forefathers were,” he said.