- - Monday, September 12, 2016

Last year, we launched the National Constitutional Literacy Campaign in a Constitution Day special section of The Washington Times.

The mission of the National Constitutional Literacy Campaign is to increase visibility and financial support for the constellation of organizations educating citizens along the learning spectrum — from kindergarten to adulthood — about the American Constitution and our nation’s history.

To achieve our goals, we have assembled a broad and diverse group of organizations, including nonpartisan nonprofits, for-profit entities, and groups from both the left and right who believe in the fundamental importance of constitutional literacy and civics education.

We believe that by harnessing the power of organizations from the right, left, and center, we can reach and, ultimately, educate a much broader segment of the national population.

Campaign partners include: The Constitutional Sources Project (ConSource), Essentials in Education, The National Constitution Center, The Allan P. Kirby, Jr. Center for Constitutional Studies & Citizenship at Hillsdale College, The Joe Foss Institute, American Council of Trustees and Alumni, Intercollegiate Studies Institute, The Ashbrook Center at Ashland University, The Center for Civic Education, The George Nethercutt Foundation, The Diana Davis Spencer Foundation, Education for All, Institute for American Constitutional Heritage at The University of Oklahoma, James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University, Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project, One Generation Away, The Constitution Bee, The Washington Times, and The Harlan Institute.

A key aspect of the National Constitutional Literacy Campaign’s efforts is the annual publication of a Constitution Day special section in The Washington Times. Newspapers have historically been an important part of civil society, providing information to citizens and serving as a watchdog against abuses by those in power. Newspapers are also the backbone of America’s historical record — The Federalist Papers were originally published in a newspaper, as were most of the Anti-Federalist essays; the records of state-ratifying conventions were published in local newspapers, and in many instances those newspaper reports are the only extant records available of the debates that occurred during the ratification period.

Newspapers serve as the first draft of American history as it is occurring. Americans newspapers have preserved records and detailed accounts of the people, issues and events that have shaped and will continue to shape our nation.

Because of Constitution Day’s proximity to this year’s presidential election, this year’s special section is on “The President and the Constitution.”

We hope citizens across the nation will read, reflect and learn from the scholars and civic education advocates who submitted articles on this timely topic.

High-quality, lifelong civics education is essential for the continued health of the American Republic. It helps ensure that Americans of all ages, in the words of Noah Webster, value “the principles of virtue and liberty,” and that we “inspire them with just and liberal ideas of government and with an inviolable attachment to their own country.”

On the eve of a major presidential election, there is no better time to pick up a newspaper and invest in your own civic education.

• Julie Silverbrook is the executive director of The Constitutional Sources Project (ConSource.org), a nonprofit organization devoted to increasing understanding, facilitating research, and encouraging discussion of the U.S. Constitution by connecting individuals with the documentary history of its creation, ratification, and amendment. Julie holds a J.D. from William & Mary Law School. In 2015, she and venture capitalist Chuck Stetson founded the National Constitutional Literacy Campaign.

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