Just in Time
It begins by suggesting that in spite of Senator Byrd's best efforts, Constitution Day is little more than an afterthought for most schools. More than half of high school students have never heard of the national holiday, and merely 1 in 10 recall how their school celebrated it last year despite a federal mandate.
More specific to the First Amendment, teachers claim their schools are making some (55%) or a lot (8%) of efforts to promote the five freedoms. Despite increased concentration on this subject in classrooms (68% of students have taken a class addressing the First Amendment), only 25% of students personally think about the First Amendment, with the remaining 75% suggesting they take it for granted (38%) or know nothing about it whatsoever (36%).
Once again, the study finds that students are more sensitive to First Amendment infringements when they impact their lives directly, such as songs with offensive lyrics and censorship of student publications. Students are more likely than their teachers and parents to claim that the First Amendment goes too far and are less likely to support newspaper publication without prior government review or flag burning as a political statement.
A couple of interesting findings surface in the second half of the study concerning student media use. Parents (43%) and peers (39%) are more influential than teachers (13%) in influencing students' choices of news sources. Internet use as a news source has increased significantly during the last year, from 31% who surfed the net for news daily or several times a week to 53%. The most popular forms of digital media for high schoolers are online videos (39% use several times a week), online discussions (28%), and posting online messages (23%). Blogs (17%) and use of mobile devices (15%) to access the news rate lower.
Here's hoping that this Constitution Day is a more memorable one for our nation's students, and in the process, they become more knowledgeable about the First Amendment and forward defenders of the freedoms it guarantees. Hope to see you tonight for the Constitution Day program in Chicago Heights.