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12/04/2004

New Law: Constitution Education Class Required

Once again I applaude Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) for being one of the only defenders of our great Constitution. Byrd slipped language in to the spending bill that requires U.S. schools must now give a day of special instruction about the U.S. Constitution every Sept. 17th, as well as all federal employees will be given similar education classes.
Sadly it took this as a mandate to save our heritage and blueprint for government set forth by our forefathers, but if left up to most Americans and the Bushies we wouldn't have our sacred document called the Constitution.
Sen. Byrd...Thanks again, maybe more Americans will see the importance of knowing our history and preserving our rights from your legislation.



Words inserted into spending bill dictate instruction on U.S. document


America’s schools must now give special instruction about the U.S. Constitution every Sept. 17, thanks to a snippet of language Sen. Robert Byrd slipped into the mammoth federal spending bill.

All federal employees must be given similar education every Sept. 17, the anniversary of the Constitution’s signing. Federal agencies also must provide educational materials about the Constitution to each new employee during orientation.

Byrd, D-W.Va., is well known for always carrying a copy of the Constitution in his breast pocket. He is known as the Senate’s foremost authority on the document.

His provision requiring Constitutional education is unusual, in that the U.S. Department of Education is expressly prohibited from imposing a national school curriculum. The new law applies to any school, from preschool through college, that gets any federal money whatsoever.

The law also designates Sept. 17 as “Constitution Day.” It had been designated “Citizenship Day.”

Although President Bush has not yet signed the bill, Byrd aide Tom Gavin said Byrd’s provision will stand in the final law.

“No, it can’t be taken out,” Gavin said. “The legislation has been passed by both the House and Senate ... The only thing that could happen is that the president could veto the whole bill, which would cause a government shutdown.”

The $388 billion spending bill passed Congress before Thanksgiving, but it has been held up over language that gives Congress the right to examine people’s tax returns. The House is expected to vote Tuesday to clarify that language, Gavin said, and then the bill should become law.

In recent years, Byrd has decried what he sees as America’s movement away from “the wisdom of its magnificent Constitution.”

“While our educational system is good at ingraining feelings of respect and reverence for our Constitution, that same system is in need of great improvements in teaching what is actually in the Constitution and just why it is so important,” Byrd said in a written statement.

“Studies have shown that many Americans are hugely ignorant about history ... Only with a thorough knowledge of history can we ever expect our people to appreciate the gift of the framers [of the Constitution], or the experience and the struggles going back centuries which combined to make us free.

“Only with a citizenry that understands its responsibilities in a republic such as ours can we ever expect to elect office holders with the intelligence to represent the people well, the honesty to deal with them truthfully, and the determination to effectively promote the people’s interests and preserve their liberties, no matter what the personal political consequences.

“We can build upon the respect and reverence we still hold for our Constitution. But we had better start now before, through ignorance and apathy, even that much slips away from us.”

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