National Constitution Center to Launch Constitutional Ambassadors Program September 2019
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NATIONAL CONSTITUTION CENTER TO LAUNCH CONSTITUTIONAL AMBASSADORS PROGRAM SEPTEMBER 2019
With support of the Philadelphia School District, tens of thousands of high school students to visit National Constitution Center for immersive education about the Constitution.
Philadelphia, PA (May 2, 2019) – Today the National Constitution Center announced a new initiative to welcome tens of thousands of Philadelphia-area students to the National Constitution Center beginning in the 2019-2020 school year for a new and immersive experience in constitutional education.
Through a day-long intellectual, social, and skills-based educational experience at the National Constitution Center, participants in the Constitutional Ambassadors program will learn the basic principles of the U.S. Constitution. Before the visit, they will prepare in their classrooms with the Constitution Center’s nationally acclaimed educational materials and after the visit, they will participate in online exchanges linking classrooms in Philadelphia with those in states from Kentucky and Ohio to California. The Constitutional Ambassadors program aims to inspire Philadelphia students of diverse backgrounds to be ambassadors for constitutional principles and civil dialogue.
“The National Constitution Center is thrilled to work with Philadelphia students to create an immersive experience in civics education that can serve as an example for students across America,” said National Constitution Center President and CEO Jeffrey Rosen. “The tens of thousands of Philadelphia-area students who visit the Constitution Center can become Constitutional Ambassadors to the nation, learning about basic constitutional principles and sharing their enthusiasm for learning with other classrooms across the country.”
“I’m excited that students in the School District of Philadelphia will be at the forefront of civics education in America, learning about the Constitution,” said Dr. William R. Hite, superintendent of the School District of Philadelphia. “The District is thrilled to work with the National Constitution Center to create a unique learning opportunity for tens of thousands of students a year, beginning with high school students and expanding to middle school in future years.”
The National Constitution Center has a long relationship with the Philadelphia School District through Constitution High School, which was founded in 2006 in partnership with the School District, the Constitution Center, Ballard Spahr LLC, and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. Constitution High students engage in many projects and learning opportunities at the National Constitution Center including its Policing in a More Perfect Union police training program.
The Constitutional Ambassadors program will be made possible through philanthropic support to ensure that every students and teacher who wishes to participate in the program will have the opportunity.
A National Platform for Civic Education
In September 2019, the National Constitution Center will launch a new online platform for nonpartisan constitutional education, the Interactive Constitution: Classroom Edition. The Classroom Edition will include professional development opportunities for teachers, constitutional lesson plans, civil dialogue toolkits, and other multimedia teaching resources crafted by education professionals and leading constitutional scholars.
The Classroom Edition will also allow teachers to sign their students up for virtual classroom exchanges, pairing classrooms throughout the country with each other to practice foundational rules of civil dialogue while having meaningful conversations about high-profile constitutional issues.
The Classroom Edition builds on the success of the Center’s Interactive Constitution, which has been visited by over 22 million different users since launching in 2015. The Interactive Constitution presents the full text of the Constitution, with essays written by leading legal scholars from across the ideological spectrum who are paired with each other to provide a balanced explanation of the history, structure, and significance of every clause of the Constitution.
Constitutional Ambassadors Initiative
Before the students come to the National Constitution Center, teachers can use the Classroom Edition resources to teach core constitutional concepts to the students.
When the students visit through the Constitutional Ambassadors program, they will see rare historical documents, priceless artifacts, interactive exhibits, and powerful live theatrical performances that bring contemporary discussions about the Constitution to life. And the students will practice civil constitutional dialogue and debate with their peers.
Below is a sample schedule:
- Welcome & “Essential Questions.” Students will be presented with a difficult constitutional question—such as whether and how the Constitution protects equality—that they will be encouraged to research throughout the day at the Center.
- Interactive Constitution Workshop. Center educators will take a deep dive into a specific constitutional provision to teach students how to research constitutional issues, how to critically examine primary sources, and how to distinguish their personal views from what the Constitution requires.
- Guided Exploration of the Exhibits. Students will explore the Center’s exhibits and attend the Center’s live theatrical performances, with an eye toward reinforcing core constitutional concepts and diving more deeply into the day’s “Essential Question.”
- Student Town Hall. Students will reconvene to meet a constitutional expert—volunteer state and federal judges, legal scholars, or practicing lawyers—who will lead the students in a deeper discussion about the day’s “Essential Question.” These town halls are often a highlight of the students’ experience.
- Peer Exchange. The day will end with students talking with and teaching each other about what they have learned about the day’s Essential Question. They will practice civil dialogue and active listening skills while discussing and even debating constitutional issues.
The National Constitution Center’s educators will follow up with teachers within a month of their visit to support continued classroom discussion, and to invite the students to participate in virtual classroom exchanges with peer classrooms across the country. The Center will conduct randomized evaluations on the program’s effectiveness to adapt the content and format as needed.
Professional Development for Educators
In conjunction with the Constitutional Ambassadors program, the National Constitution Center will offer educators comprehensive training on the Interactive Constitution and supporting materials. The Center will host day-long professional development sessions for educators, which will include exhibit tours, modeled classroom activities, and training in civil dialogue techniques, totaling four reportable hours of professional development—which the Center will submit for Act 48 reporting.
About the National Constitution Center
The National Constitution Center in Philadelphia brings together people of all ages and perspectives, across America and around the world, to learn about, debate, and celebrate the greatest vision of human freedom in history, the U.S. Constitution. A private, nonprofit organization, the Center serves as America’s leading platform for constitutional education and debate, fulfilling its congressional charter “to disseminate information about the U.S. Constitution on a nonpartisan basis.” As the Museum of We the People, the Center brings the Constitution to life for visitors of all ages through interactive programs and exhibits. As America’s Town Hall, the Center brings the leading conservative and liberal thought leaders together to debate the Constitution on all media platforms. As a Headquarters for Civic Education, the Center delivers the best educational programs and online resources that inspire citizens and engage all Americans in learning about the U.S. Constitution. For more information, call 215-409-6700 or visit constitutioncenter.org.