NASHVILLE, Tennessee — The Republic still stands exactly 231 years to the day after the Founding Fathers signed the U.S. Constitution.
But, as Michael Patrick Leahy, editor in chief of The Tennessee Star said Monday at an event emceed by State Senator Kerry Roberts (R-Springfield), “Constitutional literacy is pretty low right now.”
That’s one of the reasons the 917 Society exists – to help improve constitutional literacy among Tennessee eighth graders.
More than 200 supporters of the 917 Society gathered at the home of prominent Nashville physician Ming Wang on Monday, Sept. 17, to observe Constitution Day.
And because of the 917 Society, every eighth-grader in Tennessee gets a copy of the U.S. Constitution.
Joni Bryan launched the 917 Society just a few years ago.
Eighth-grade is the year students are supposed to have civics in the U.S. curriculum.
Due to the lack of funding and resources, teachers find it difficult to add one more thing to their classroom agenda. That’s where the 917 Society comes in. Their goal is to provide every eighth grader in Tennessee with a copy of the Constitution, in which founder Joni Bryan calls “a rite of passage.”
Tennessee is the first state to offer a free state Constitution Day program.
The organization reached 25,000 students in 2017 and will reach 85,000 more in 2018.
“It’s a one-two punch in terms of improving Constitutional and civic literacy among Tennessee students,” Leahy said.
The 917 society provides free copies of the U.S. Constitution to eighth graders in Tennessee.
Ninth-through 12th-grade students, are eligible to receive a 160 page textbook, The Tennessee Star’s Guide to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and participate in a Constitution Bee, Leahy said.
State Sen. Mark Green (R-Clarksville), currently running for Congress, meanwhile, asked the gathering of several hundred people to look to their left and to their right.
“There is a person here representing every single aspect of our country,” Green said.
“There are Republicans and Democrats in this room. This is the melting pot that is America. That is what our Constitution really stands for. It’s an amazing document amended over time to correct its faults. What is amazing is that it can be done.”
Green said he has a problem with the concept of a living Constitution – or one that evolves and changes over time.
But that’s OK.
Leahy addressed that matter.
“Even among friends this document is what brings us together. We can fight it out when discussing the originalist view of the Constitution or the idea it is a living document,” Leahy said.
“We have a document upon which both sides guide their principles and we can do business on that. It is so critically important that every young person in America today understands the Constitution. They should understand our liberties and our rights and be able to articulate the difference between originalism and a living Constitution.”
Bobbie Patray, President of the Tennessee Chapter of the Eagle Forum, attended the event, and captured her impressions of it in this Facebook post:
For more information visit www.917society.com
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