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Constitution Day 2022

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JEA’s Scholastic Press Rights Committee hopes to help you and your students celebrate their free speech rights this year. Constitution Day, observed Sept. 17 each year in commemoration of the signing of the United States Constitution, is an excellent time to do it. 

• We have a quick court cases-review crossword to help you and your students audit if your coverage was as comprehensive as you’d like.

Check out the links, below, for more information on each activity. Feel free to make use of the materials anytime during the weeks before or after Constitution Day. They could be launching points for your own ideas to focus on student speech rights.

Gauging Community Attitudes Towards First Amendment Rights (by Mark Dzula): The Knight Foundation surveys teens and teachers’ attitudes towards freedom of speech. Gauge your community’s attitudes towards first amendment rights as you prepare to advocate for the First Amendment.

Ten First Amendment Court Cases (by Mark Dzula): From the classic, key decisions to ne newer and still coming into importance, this quiz will give you a base of information–and a challenge. (And there is a key)

In search of a free and fair press (by Candace Bowen, MJE): Democracy is based on an informed electorate going to the polls to choose its leaders. Only a free and fair press can make that possible. If news media include slanted views and bias, readers can be unknowingly swayed to believe something that may not be true. That hurts democracy. To help students read more critically, compare two news articles about the same event and start developing the skills to spot ways some media may be giving readers a slanted view.

Media, Free Speech, & The Paradox of Democracy (by Mark Dzula): It’s better to think of democracy less as a government type and more as an open communicative culture.” Media and free speech can both nurture and hinder democratic practice, according to The Paradox of Democracy. Find out how.

• In addition to this new material, check out our numerous lessons and activities from previous years: 2021, 20202019201820172016201520142013.

This is also a great time to review student press rights particular to your community. How aware are your students of their own editorial policy? School board policy? Guidelines for ethical performance and meaningful, all-encompassing staff manual? How about the existence (or lack thereof) of a New Voices law? Are there ways your students could strengthen or improve their specific protections? You can always check out additional resources on this website or the Student Press Law Center.

Constitution Day Contributors

CD Day 2022

Mark Dzula, the Webb Schools (CA)

Kristin Taylor, CJE, The Archer School for Girls (CA)

Candace Bowen, MJE, Kent State University (OH)

John Bowen, MJE, Kent State University (OH)