1st Amendment: Top impact, but 2nd part of Constitution

Wylie FOI No News.jpg

1st Amendment: Top impact, but 2nd part of Constitution

            Each year we celebrate Constitution Day on September 17, celebrating the date the U.S. Constitution won final approval. But the portion which probably impacts more of our daily lives than any other, the Bill of Rights including the 1st Amendment, took another four years to take effect.

            But were it not promised, there probably would have been no Constitution.

            I’ve been fortunate. Because we were taught about the Constitution in growing detail starting in kindergarten, I’ve been an avid and hopefully effective advocate for our First Amendment rights for almost half a century.

            As a publisher, we developed a newspaper feature called For the Kid in You to help the Oologah Lake Leader be an effective teaching tool in our Newspaper in Education program. It is now celebrating it silver anniversary, and on holidays involving what our nation represents I’ve always personally written many features focusing on the First Amendment.

            Sadly, as the demands on schools have grown while resources shrink, NIE programs have dwindled. But by the time that happened, the Kid had gained a following in other newspapers and has been syndicated to other newspapers for most of its life. We kept the Kid when we sold the Leader because we wanted to repurpose it to bring back the days when the newspaper formed a conversation core for families after each issue arrived home and family members sometimes tussled over their favorite sections or pages before everyone got it read.

            The new Kid, subtitled Unlock Your Inner Child, is designed to provide that long-ago experience for today’s students and our emphasis on Constitutional issues—especially 1st Amendment ones—has grown as in-school teaching on the subject has shriveled. Civics get short shrift in public schools and many colleges are trying to debunk the value of history in favor of STEM.

            This year’s Constitution Day column shows how we try to make the Constitution and especially the 1st Amendment relative to today’s students. If you have a website or Facebook page, feel free to pick it up and reproduce it for those who don’t see it in their newspaper. (Just please leave that little © line in place).

            We were pleased today to see that there is one place where the Constitution is still an important part of the curriculum—the classes those seeking to become U.S. citizens take before taking the test required to become a U.S. citizen.

            Rep. Ilham Omar, the first Somali-American to serve in Congress representing most of Minneapolis, came to this country as a refugee at age 10 as a member of a family that valued democracy and was granted full asylum more than 10 years later.

            Appearing on Face the Nation Sunday on CBS, she and host Margaret Brennan had a very informative discussion of a Supreme Court ruling on immigration policy in which the Congresswoman cited the Dred Scott decision and other cases in arguing that the Supreme Court would recognize that it had made a mistake in the immigration decision—which was on a pre-trial issue—and later rectify it.

            Rather than the mindless chatter so often heard on TV talk shows, the conversation was intelligent and well informed. How many students today would even recognize that Dred Scott was a Supreme Court case, let alone its significance?

            So please celebrate Constitution Day by doing something to further our newer generations’ curiosity and knowledge about our bedrock principles and especially the Bill of Rights and its First Amendment principles. As the old TV ads said, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste,” and those of us who care about our freedoms must ensure that American minds don’t waste away due to lack of exercise.

Screen Shot 2019-09-16 at 10.21.30 PM.png
First AmendmentJohn Wylie