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Constitution Day Project: Overview DVD in the Schools


constitution day

This article first appeared as "An Excellent Project for All" by John F. McManus in the JBS Bulletin, July 2010.

In 2004, Congress enacted legislation requiring all publicly funded educational institutions to provide students with instruction about the U.S. Constitution. The law (Public Law 108-447) specified that it should be given on September 17, the date of the completion of the Constitution in 1787.

The Department of Education then directed that all schools receiving federal funding must comply. In 2008, we recommended sending copies of the Overview of America DVD to high school and junior high school social studies teachers, reminding them of the requirement and suggesting the use of our DVD. We know that many members acted on our suggestion — both in 2008 and in 2009.

altA good member in Montana told us that the teacher to whom he presented the DVD in 2008 ended up showing it to all his colleagues at the school. Many not only raved about its contents; they asked for their own copy. The program was then shown to the students where it was received enthusiastically.

A chapter in Illinois sent a letter and the DVD to 20 high school and junior high school principals and social-studies department chairmen. They then followed with telephone calls to the appropriate individuals. While they didn’t get a positive reaction from all, they know that the DVD was shown in some of the schools. They reported that teachers whom they reached were “very positive” about the DVD and some asked for an additional copy because it somehow “got lost.”

The Illinois members suggested the following plan of action:

  1. During the third week in August, send the DVD and a letter (similar to the sample given below) to the principal and social studies teacher of each school in your area.
  2. During the last week in August, call the recipients to inquire whether they have previewed the program. Remind them of the legal requirement (Public Law 108-447) that they provide instruction about the Constitution on September 17.
  3. Keep calling until you are connected with the appropriate school official.

If you wish, create an ad hoc committee such as “Green County Committee for the Constitution.” Or, any member living in the area can sign the letter. Provide your name, address and telephone number for recipients to contact you if they desire to do so. Sample letter: 

Dear Sir or Madam: 

As you are undoubtedly aware, the federal government requires that instruction about the Constitution be given in all publicly funded schools on Constitution Day, September 17.

I (We) enclose an excellent half-hour DVD dealing with this very topic. It has already been shown in numerous schools where it has stimulated excellent discussion among the students.

Overview of America has reached the 100,000 level in sales; it has also been shown in part or in its entirety via numerous internet sites; copies have been made by many; and it is estimated that at least five million Americans have enjoyed seeing all or part of the presentation.

Please preview it yourself and, when you see its contents, I (we) expect that you will want to show it to your students.

Thank you very much.


Joe Doakes or “Joe Doakes for the Committee”

Get started now so you can mail or deliver copies of the DVD to school personnel as they begin preparation for the coming school year. Also, contact the editor of your local newspaper to supply him or her with the DVD and information about your effort to get it shown to the students. (25 copies/$20.00; 50 copies/$37.50 plus shipping and handling.)

Any member acting alone, or any chapter acting as a unit, can undertake this project. Go for it!

The JBS Weekly Member Update offers activism tips, new educational tools, upcoming events, and JBS perspective. Every Monday this e-newsletter will keep you informed on current action projects and offer insight into news events you won't hear from the mainstream media.
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