Tucked into a massive appropriations bill approved without fanfare late last year by Congress is the requirement that every one of the estimated 1.8 million federal employees in the executive branch receive "educational and training" materials about the charter on Constitution Day, a holiday celebrating the Sept. 17, 1787, signing that is so obscure that it, unlike Arbor Day, is left off many calendars.I'm lucky that my whole curriculum is based on the Constitution. It's hard to teach AP Government and Politics, American history, or The Revolution and Civil War without discussing the Constitution. It's the basis of my whole curriculum. I plan that my lesson to comply with this new law is to discuss federalism, unfunded mandates, and the division of responsibilities between the federal and state governments. I'm all for teaching the Constitution, but it is not the role of the federal government to dictate curriculum to schools.
That's not all: The law requires every school that receives federal funds -- including universities -- to show students a program on the Constitution, though it does not specify a particular one. The demand has proved unpopular with educators, who say that they don't like the federal government telling them what to teach and that it doesn't make the best educational sense to teach something as important as the Constitution out of context.
As I tell my students, sometimes we need to access our inner Anti-federalist. Just because they were wrong about the need to change the Articles of Confederation and create a strong federal government, doesn't mean that they were wrong about everything. I think they get a bad rap in history because they were the losers. Remember, they were the ones who insisted on a Bill of Rights being added to the Constitution. And they were certainly correct in their predictions that the new federal government would tend to grow and create more powers for itself as time passed. Just imagine what the Anti-federalists would have said about the Kelo eminent domain decision? "I told you so" might be the first words out of their mouths.