Recognition of Constitution Week Spotty in Middle Tennessee Public Schools Outside of Nashville

Signing the Constitution painting
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Constitution Week will soon be over and Tennesseans who want to see the annual tradition promoted are worried it has gone by unnoticed by too many public schools.

While some educators and outside groups have thrown themselves into promoting the week, there has been a lack of coordination at a higher level for school programs.

However, The Tennessee Star is committed to promoting the U.S. Constitution and is holding a Constitution Bee on Saturday.

Several Middle Tennessee school districts contacted by The Star reported they do not have district-led initiatives to celebrate Constitution Week, but rather leave it up to individual schools and teachers.

Rutherford County Schools spokesman James Evans said, “Those types of events are typically handled by social studies teachers at the school level as it relates to the curriculum and academic standards.” A spokeswoman for Wilson County Schools said she was not aware of any activities.

At the district level, Williamson County Schools seems to be doing more than some.

“We’ve provided a number of resources and information to teachers to support their own ideas of how to incorporate Constitution Day into their lessons,” said spokeswoman Carol Birdsong.

“At the elementary level, the Daughters of the American Revolution have been guest readers to share the book We the Kids in many of our schools,” Birdsong said.

The Tennessee Council for the Social Studies, a professional organization for educators, promoted Constitution Week activities on its website but said nothing about Constitution Week on its Facebook page. Instead, the council used its Facebook page to promote International Peace Day, which was Thursday. International Peace Day was established by the United Nations in 1981 and first observed in 1982.

Constitution Week was established by Congress in 1956 to begin each year on Sept. 17 and run through Sept. 23. Delegates to the Constitutional Convention signed the document on Sept. 17, 1787.

Sept. 17 was known as Citizenship Day, but in 2004, Congress changed the name to Constitution Day and Citizenship Day and required schools and federal government agencies to provide related educational programs. However, the educational requirement was controversial, with critics saying the federal government had no business saying what and when anything should be taught in schools. They also said teachers might have to interrupt lessons plans to teach about the Constitution when it was already being taught at other times of the year.

Earlier this year, the Tennessee General Assembly passed a bill that will designate Constitution Week as Celebrate Freedom Week starting next year. Signed into law by Gov. Bill Haslam, the bill is meant to give Constitution Week a boost.

State Rep. David Byrd (R-Waynesboro) sponsored the bill in House and Sen. Joey Hensley (R-Hohenwald) was the sponsor in the Senate.

“I feel like we don’t understand our Constitution anymore,” Byrd told The Star around the time of the bill’s passage.

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