The Government Domain: Back to School for Constitution Day 2008

Wednesday, September 17, 2008 is Constitution Day in the United States. Educational institutions and federal executive employees observe the day with some sort of edifying lesson, program, or distributed materials about our Constitution. The Constitution Day observance was established in a section of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2005, Public Law 108-447. The PDF version of this lengthy public law is available through GPO Access. The Constitution Day language is near the end of the law, in Division J – Other Matters.

An excerpt is reprinted here for your convenience:

SEC. 111. (a) The head of each Federal agency or department shall—

(1) provide each new employee of the agency or department with educational and training materials concerning the United States Constitution as part of the orientation materials provided to the new employee; and
(2) provide educational and training materials concerning the United States Constitution to each employee of the agency or department on September 17 of each year.
(b) Each educational institution that receives Federal funds for a fiscal year shall hold an educational program on the United States Constitution on September 17 of such year for the students served by the educational institution.

Following the law’s passage, the Education Department issued a “Notice of Implementation of Constitution Day and Citizenship Day on September 17 of Each Year,” 70 Fed. Reg. 29727 (May 24, 2005). The notice applies to educational institutions receiving federal funding from the Department of Education.

For Constitution Day planners, this column links to a variety of web resources for online versions of the United States Constitution and related teaching materials.

Constitution Online Versions and Related Historical Documents

There are many free, online sources for the Constitution and related historical documents. Among them:

Constitution Day Teaching Resources

The following web sites offer teaching or program support appropriate for Constitution Day. The resources cover the full range of audiences, from children to adults.