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As Long as We Remember...

May 1, 2019

Denying Knowledge of The Constitution

Cindy A. Rose

I have spent the better part of six months trying to get information from Frederick County Public Schools (FCCPS) on how it teaches the federally mandated lesson on the Constitution.


Before you begin to think that’s a reasonable amount of time because FCPS has a lot of elementary schools (37), I was only asking for the lessons for Valley Elementary School’s 22 teachers.


In October I was told I had to pay $700 for FCPS to begin to process my request because of all the time it would take. I found the request absurd, so I made a request to Lisa A. Kershner, Public Access Ombudsman for the State of Maryland.


Flash forward to Thursday, April 11, I finally get to review the long sought after lessons on the U.S. Constitution.


I was disappointed, but not shocked, to find a very thin file brought in for my review. There was a total of 16 pages. Sixteen. (22 teachers, 16 pages).


Part of the struggle to get the documents, the argument made by FCPS why it didn’t want to give me access, was to protect “teacher work product.” I saw not one teacher created lesson in that very thin file. I saw links to Google classroom (BookFlix), BrainPop, PebbleGo, YouTube and a few others. There were some 2006 and 2009 Scholastic news letters on the Constitution. There were many lessons on the Preamble.


One that puzzled me was “Share that America’s Constitution is considered a symbol.” I’ve requested clarification on this and a few other lessons with Kim Day, FCPS Elementary Curriculum Specialist. Stay tuned for updates.


The teacher notes were that certain items like “We the Kids,” by David Catrow, were read and then discussed. I saw nothing “created” by an actual FCPS teacher. I pass no judgment on the teachers. Until I’m told otherwise, what they teach comes directly from Central Office and the Board of Education.


The links I was shown I jotted down, I wasn’t allowed copies or to take pictures. The paralegal was not allowed to leave me alone with the file to insure no copies would leave the building. Some of the links did not work, others needed a subscription. For several, I was able to find an alternate way of viewing what I was looking for. Parents should not have to navigate hurdles nor jump through flaming hoops.


I’m going to be brutally honest. The no copy policy wasn’t to protect teacher work product, it was to keep the public from seeing how shoddy the “federally mandated” lesson on the Constitution is. Unless there is more than what I saw, every parent should march themselves down to their child’s classroom and demand to see what their child was taught about the Constitution.


Let’s face it, life is hectic, we can’t know everything our children are learning. The ONE thing we should know, is how FCPS is teaching them about their rights and the Constitution.


What I saw was geared toward creating “good citizens.” I saw nothing that told our children what the Constitution does. I saw nothing that explained that the Constitution protects your natural born rights, that it keeps the government from encroaching into your personal space.


What I saw was concerning and highlighted why young adults know little about what their rights actually are, why America was formed and how she is different from any other nation on the planet.


Our young people don’t understand America, what “rights” are, where they come from and the Constitution’s role in all of it.


It’s time to fix that.


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