Speaking at Constitutionally Speaking's inaugural event, retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice David H. Souter cited "the pervasive ignorance of the Constitution of the United States and the structure of government" as the most significant problem in American politics today. "The good news," he continued, "is that there are a lot of terrific civics teachers in New Hampshire who are trying to turn that around. One of their problems is that they don't necessarily have the material support to do it very well. And the demands on teaching make it very difficult to find time for more civics."
As part of its continuing effort to help fill the gap, Constitutionally Speaking has created "How Does the Constitution Keep Up with the Times?" Twelve Lessons on the Nation's Founding Document and Its Application in 21st Century America. This collection of short videos addressing contemporary constitutional topics—along with an online study guide that provides detailed lessons plans and suggested readings for New Hampshire classrooms—are accessible on the website's new Video Gallery page.
Constitutionally Speaking has begun distributing a periodic e-newsletter aimed at New Hampshire Educators. The newsletter provides information on upcoming events of interest to students and educators, as well as links to numerous resources for students from elementary to high school level. The newsletter is written by Martha Madsen, Ed.M., Constitutionally Speaking's Director, Educational Outreach and Curriculum, and produced by Dan Kittay, of Kittay New Media.
On Wednesday, September 17, New Hampshire will celebrate "Constitution Day" in a very special way. Retired US Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor will deliver the William W. Treat Lecture at 6 p.m. at the Capitol Center for the Arts in Concord, introduced by her friend and fellow Supreme Court Justice David Souter. Her topic, "The State of Democracy in America Today," will serve as the animating idea for the second year of Constitutionally Speaking, an initiative that invites the public, teachers, and students to consider and thoughtfully discuss our rights and responsibilities as citizens.
Justice O'Connor's talk is offered free to the public as a result of a generous grant from the William W. Treat Foundation to the NH Institute for Civic Education. While the event is free, tickets are required. The event is sold out.
The coming year of Constitutionally Speaking will include symposia at The Warren B. Rudman Center for Justice, Leadership and Public Policy at the UNH School of Law in November and at the Saint Anselm College NH Institute of Politics in February featuring constitutional scholars and civic leaders in Ted-X style presentations; an interscholastic conference for high school students organized by the NH Humanities Council in November; a major address at the Capitol Center for the Arts in May made possible by the NH Supreme Court Society; and the development of a DVD and study guide for NH teachers incorporating highlights from the year's programming.
The aim of Constitutionally Speaking is two-fold: to engage NH citizens of all ages in civil yet spirited dialogue about important constitutional issues of our time; and to galvanize support for the reintroduction of meaningful civics education in our schools.
It is made possible in part by generous support from the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, the Hoffman Family Foundation, the Badger Fund of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, the William W. Treat Foundation, Paul and Sandra Montrone, and the New Hampshire Bar Foundation’s Advancement of Justice Fund, Arthur & Esther Nighswander Justice Fund and The McLane Fund.