This Congressional initiative is authorized by Section 111 of Division J of Pub. L. 108-447, the “Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2005,” Dec. 8, 2004; 118 Stat. 2809, 3344-45 (Section 111). The Assistant Deputy Secretary for Innovation and Improvement (Assistant Deputy Secretary) takes this action in order to implement this provision as it applies to educational institutions receiving Federal funding from the Department. Section 111(b) states “each educational institution that receives Federal funds for a fiscal year shall hold an educational program on the United States Constitution on September 17 of such year for the students served by the educational institution.” For purposes of the Department’s implementation of this requirement, “educational institutions” includes but is not limited to “local educational agencies” and “institutions of higher education” receiving Federal funding from the Department. Section 111 applies to all educational institutions receiving Federal funding, not only those receiving Federal funding from the Department. However, the Department’s authority only extends to those educational institutions receiving funding from the Department, and consequently the Department can only regulate with regard to those institutions. Section 111 requires that Constitution Day be held on September 17 of each year, commemorating the September 17, 1787 signing of the Constitution. However, when September 17 falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or holiday, Constitution Day shall be held during the preceding or following week. Section 111 does not authorize funds to carry out this requirement, and Section 111(d) indicates that this section shall apply “without fiscal year limitation.” Accordingly, the Assistant Deputy Secretary intends that this notice pertain to this fiscal year and all subsequent years.
Some informational resources pertaining to the Constitution are listed below. In addition to these, the Department is aware that there may be other public and private resources available that may be helpful to educational institutions in implementing Constitution Day:
- The National Archives web site provides Constitution Day activities and materials. http://www.archives.gov/education/lessons/constitution-day/ and http://www.archives.gov/education/lessons/constitution-workshop/
- The Library of Congress American Memory site provides numerous resources on the Constitution. These two links provide access: http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/amlaw/lawhome.htmland http://thomas.loc.gov/teachers/constitution.html
- The National Endowment for the Humanities provides content on the Constitution through the EDSITEMENT web site: http://edsitement.neh.gov/constitution-day
- The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has put relevant materials on its Web site at http://opm.gov/constitution_initiative. Note: The information on the OPM website is archived.
- The U.S. Senate has posted material from the Legislative Branch:http://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/history/common/generic/ConstitutionDay.htm
- We also encourage you to access information about the Constitution on the National History Education Clearinghouse (NHEC) site at www.teachinghistory.org. The NHEC is funded by the U.S. Department of Education under contract no. ED-07-CO-0088. The NHEC homepage features special, highlighted information on teaching resources for Constitution Day.
With regard to non-governmental websites, these are provided as examples of resources on Constitution Day that you might find helpful. There are many other resources available that may be just as helpful. We cannot guarantee the accuracy of these sites, nor does our inclusion here constitute an endorsement of the sites, the material on the sites, or the related products or services of the entity that provided the information.
We encourage Federal, State, and local officials, as well as leaders of civic, social, and educational organizations, to conduct ceremonies and programs that bring together community members to reflect on the importance of active citizenship, recognize the enduring strength of our Constitution, and reaffirm our commitment to the rights and obligations of citizenship in this great Nation.