A More United America: Teaching Democratic Principles and Protected Freedoms

by Kelly Booz

On the last day of the Constitutional Convention on Sept. 17, 1787, Elizabeth Powel of Philadelphia asked Benjamin Franklin, "Well, doctor, what have we got—a republic or a monarchy?" to which Franklin replied: "A republic, if you can keep it."

America is built on the foundation of democracy. The preamble to the U.S. Constitution spells out the democratic principles we seek to achieve for "We the People.” The Constitution was written, the preamble says, “in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty.”

Now, 235 years later, as we celebrate Constitution Day on Sept. 17, 2022, our Constitution is considered the longest-serving Constitution in the world. The U.S. Constitution and the freedoms granted within it belong to all of us, as long as we can keep it.

Today, our republic is fragile. We are seeing increased threats to our democracy, our freedom and our country, with acts of hate, voter suppression, disinformation wars, book banning, censorship, and political fights about education and teachers that are causing teachers and support staff to leave the profession at an alarming rate.

But there’s something we can do about it. Together, through education and by being united, we can make our democracy strong again.

That’s why the Albert Shanker Institute and Share My Lesson are launching a series of teach-in webinars on the Constitution and principles of the Constitution, such as the rule of law, constitutional freedoms, the Civil War amendments dealing with slavery, voter rights and tribal sovereignty. These teach-ins will provide the content knowledge on the rights granted in the Constitution with teachable strategies for the classroom. It will also tackle the very issues that are eroding our democracy and our freedoms today, from banning books to failing to make all kids feel safe and welcome in school.

Whether you teach history, civics, math or science, or are a parent or guardian, this series has something for everyone. It is the responsibility of all of us to understand our rights as citizens and residents of the United States, and that starts with understanding the Constitution. Join us for this fall’s six-part webinar series, A More United America: Teaching Democratic Principles and Protected Freedoms.

(Available for 90 minutes of PD credit. A certificate of completion will be available for download at the end of your session that you can submit for your school's or district's approval.

WEBINAR 1, Thursday Sept 29, 6:30 PM ET
Constitution 101: How to Teach the U.S. Constitution in K-12 – co-present with National Center for the Constitution.
Are you responsible for your state standards teaching the Constitution? Join the Shanker Institute, the National Center for the Constitution and ShareMyLesson for some ideas on where to start when you’re responsible for introducing your students to the Constitution as our nation’s founding document.

WEBINAR 2, Thursday, Oct 6, 6:30 PM ET
A More United America: How to Create a Safe and Welcoming Environment During Divisive Times.
Our classrooms reflect our communities and always need to be safe spaces for learning. How do you maintain that safe space for learning while respecting all of the opinions, backgrounds and perspectives students bring to the classroom? Join the Albert Shanker Institute and Share My Lesson for an informative webinar with diverse educator and student voices offering ideas for maintaining a safe and welcoming space. This session is part of the series: A More United America: Teaching Democratic Principles and Protected Freedoms.

WEBINAR 3, Thursday, Oct 13, 6:30 PM ET
Teaching the Civil War Amendments: Reconstruction’s 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments
Are you a teacher responsible for teaching about slavery, the Civil War, and the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution and Reconstruction? These historical moments are imperative to address and can be challenging to cover in a comprehensive way. Join the Albert Shanker Institute, National Constitution Center and Share My Lesson for an informative session on teaching these important amendments and meeting your state standards.

WEBINAR 4, Thursday, Oct 20, 6:30 PM ET
A More United America: How Book Banning Prevents Literacy For All
Do these headlines seem to be competing with each other: The increased attention to limiting access to books and the increased focus on high-quality, evidence-based literacy instruction? Join the Albert Shanker Institute and Share My Lesson for this helpful discussion on how to promote high-quality literacy instruction while not limiting access to books for students.

WEBINAR 5, Thursday, Oct 27, 6:30 PM ET
Constitutional Voting Rights: Teaching the 15th, 19th and 26th Amendments
Voting rights figure prominently in the U.S. Constitution and the 15th, 19th and 26th Amendments, demonstrating how voting rights have continued to expand in the last 100 years. Join us to learn how to incorporate these Amendments as you teach to your state standards addressing the Constitution.

WEBINAR 6, Thursday, Nov17, 6:30 PM ET
Teaching About Tribal Sovereignty and the U.S. Constitution
Tribal Nations pre-date the U.S. Constitution and increasingly state standards are specifically recognizing the importance of teaching about the historic and contemporary contributions of tribal nations. And so, it is important to understand the role of tribal sovereignty in the United States and our Constitution. Join us for an engaging session with experts on tribal sovereignty.

Register for the series.

A More United America Webinar Series