FRESNO, California - The Constitution of the United States – it is the supreme law of the land. The rules we govern by – live by, but study after study shows most of us know little about the all important document.
In Moira Harada’s constitutional law class at the Center for Advanced Research and Technology (CART), students study the Constitution.
“They have to understand the Constitution. They have to understand their rights, and I think sometimes when we get legal cases involving the Bill of Rights – involving the First Amendment or the Fourth Amendment – they really get to see how those rights interact with their daily lives and maybe what their responsibilities are as citizens to uphold those rights and fight for those rights,” Harada said.
On the day KSEE24 visited Harada’s class, students were working on a project involving the Fourth Amendment – you know, the one about unlawful search and seizures?
They had to research a Supreme Court case involving this particular amendment and re-argue it. That’s one way to get to know this law.
“What I like about learning about the Fourth Amendment is it helps me learn my own rights when it comes to search and seizure, arrest, or anything of that sort and it helps me realize other cases when it comes to that I can make my own informed decision whereas some people don’t even know what the Fourth Amendment is,” said Laney Linton, a student at CART.
CART is not the only institution working to educate young people about the Constitution. The Fresno County Civic Learning Partnership – a group which includes judges, business, community and educational leaders – is dedicated to revitalizing civic education in the classroom.
“Education is the key to developing awareness among young citizens to participate as active, responsible citizens, and to understand how the government works – the branches of government – the rights and responsibilities of citizenship,” John Minkler said.
That education extends to community projects like Constitution Day held on the Fresno State campus. Students from CART and other high schools joined people from all walks of life to celebrate the Constitution.
Harada said, “It’s geared at teaching them the importance of the Constitution and also the importance of civil discourse and having conversations with people you may not agree with or may not understand in a civil way.”
High school kids, college students, veterans, attorneys, people with different political views – young, old – all sitting around the table discussing the Constitution, the Bill of Rights – their rights.
It was something to see a room full of people coming together to voice their opinions, showing you can agree to disagree and do it in a respectful manner a great lesson that was not just for students.
Participant Ron Harkey said, “I think it’s great you see different views that’s civil, and I think it’s going to serve the community better this way.”