Governance by “We the People”
By Allan K. DuBois
Celebrate Freedom Week is September 13 through 19, 2015. During this week, Texas public schools are encouraged to focus student attention on the importance of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, including the Bill of Rights, in their historical contexts. Constitution Day is on September 17. On this day we commemorate the document, signed by 40 patriots almost 228 years ago, that frames our rights and liberties.
Why do we have Celebrate Freedom Week and Constitution Day? While every day is cause for a celebration of our nation’s exceptionalism, dedicating a week to focus on our freedom, including the day our Constitution was signed, is a powerful means to recognize and inspire the true leaders of this great nation: “We the People…”
James Madison, the fourth president of the United States who is considered the Father of the U.S. Constitution, observed:
“The people are the only legitimate fountain of power, and it is from them that the constitutional charter, under which the several branches of government hold their power, is derived.”
With freedom comes responsibility. In order for “We the People” to govern, we must be informed and knowledgeable. Civic education at all grade levels is essential to ensure that generations of Americans are prepared to be responsible citizens and civic leaders.
Recognizing the importance of civic education, the mission statement of the State Bar of Texas includes “to … educate the public about the rule of law.” In this spirit, the State Bar of Texas promotes resources designed to help educate and excite the public about our government, citizenship, federalism, and civic responsibilities.
“Justiceville, U.S.A.,” the newest project of the State Bar’s Law Related Education Department, is a fun and educational Web-based program for elementary and secondary students. In a challenge-based game environment, students learn about the functions and purposes of government, separation of powers, the rights of citizens, the role of public officials — our fundamental American concepts. The project, made possible by a grant from the Texas Bar Foundation, is usable on computers, tablets, and smartphones.
Inspired by former U. S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s ideas, “Oyez, Oyez, Oh Yay!” is a another SBOT educational program for middle school and high school students that focuses on landmark court decisions that are part of all U.S. government and history curriculum. In Oyez, students and teachers search through case summaries, videos, and other helpful information for subjects commonly found on state assessment tests.
The Law Related Education Department of the State Bar of Texas advances civic education programs through curriculum development and educator training. Each year, the department trains thousands of teachers and supports programs that prepare students for responsible citizenship. To learn more, go to TexasLRE.org.
Please join us as we dedicate a week to celebrate our history, liberties, freedom, and the rights provided in the U.S. Constitution. Let’s stay committed throughout the year by promoting important civic education of our young citizens and the leaders of tomorrow.
Allan K. DuBois is president of the State Bar of Texas and the owner of the Law Office of Allan K. DuBois in San Antonio, where he handles civil litigation and appeals, mediation, and arbitration. He may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.