Letter: It's a great time to support high school civics programs
We need more people who actually read and study the U.S. Constitution rather than just carry it around in their pockets. I was fortunate enough to sit in on a gathering of North Dakota students who have actually studied that document and defended aspects of it in a wonderful program called “People to People.” The students, who primarily came from Class B schools, their teachers and principals gathered before a pretty darn impressive bunch of judges including present and former North Dakota Supreme Court Justices, master teachers and distinguished lawyers at the Capitol this past week.
Sharon Espeland has coordinated this wonderful civics program while also being assistant principal at Century High School. In order to send winning teams to compete on the national level in Washington, D.C., and to provide stipends for teacher training, support is provided by Dave and Karla Ehlis, American Bank Center, North Dakota Bar Association, Humanities ND and the North Dakota Legislature. More sponsors, like local cooperatives, service and civic organizations need to invest in hiring a full-time director and support these future leaders, their teachers and their schools to the same extent that they support other school activities. As much as I enjoy attending my grandchildren’s sports, music and theater events, I have to say this cerebral competition sent tingles up my spine and brought tears to my eyes.
Hope for more informed future leaders sprang from this superb morning at the Capitol. As our state and nation struggle to come to grips with extreme constitutional angst, we can only hope that all school districts are using this curriculum to provide us with leaders who do not just carry a copy of the Constitution in their pocket, but who actually understand the history and principles behind it and how those are applied to our governance.