The Associated Press has provided new details about a push by the nation’s largest Tea Party umbrella group to teach the Constitution in public schools using materials from an organization that promotes the Constitution as a divinely inspired document.
As originally reported by Mother Jones, the Tea Party Patriots are encouraging public schools to participate in “Constitution Week” in September by utilizing teaching materials from the National Center for Constitutional Studies, a group that ACS Executive Director Caroline Fredrickson called so outside the mainstream that even the conservative Federalist Society would object to its materials.
Mother Jones’ Stephanie Mencimer participated in a daylong seminar with NCCS last year, and reported:
If its public school curriculum resembles anything like what I witnessed, it has no place in the nation's classrooms. Among other things, NCCS uses materials written by [Cleon] Skousen suggesting that Anglo-Saxons are descended from a lost tribe of Israel; Skousen claimed this meant the Constitution may have been inspired by God, who intended for America to be a Christian nation. The very same bogus history has been perpetuated by the white supremacist movement.
The Associated Press report reveals that the public school materials will include a DVD entitled “A More Perfect Union,” which suggests, among other things, that "Americans' confidence in republicanism stemmed largely from their shared commitment to Christianity." The organization is also providing an accompanying teacher’s guide, a poster, and a pocket-sized copy of the Constitution.
Bill Norton, who is leading the Tea Party Patriots’ “Adopt a School” program, told AP he’d like to reclaim the Constitution from secular scholars.
"They're eliminating God out of the whole political discussion 100 percent, which is going to the other extreme," Norton said.
The American Constitution Society has been participating in Constitution Week for years, by sending volunteers to classrooms with lesson plans that focus on the Constitution’s Bill of Rights. Classes feature the Sixth Amendment right to an attorney, students’ free expression and freedom of religion rights under the First Amendment, and the Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable search and seizure.
To meet the growing need for Constitution Week instruction, ACS is expanding its own Constitution in the Classroom program. To learn more or sign up, click here.