2. Despite increases in the number of First Amendment classes from 2004 through 2006, nearly three-fourths of students still don’t know how they feel about the First Amendment, or take it for granted. <More>
3. Students support individual free expression rights that directly affect or interest them; they’re less supportive of rights that are less relevant to their lives. <More>
4. Parents, not teachers, have the greatest influence on students’ choice of news sources. <More>
5. More students are turning to the Internet to find their news. Their definition of news isn’t much different than that of their parents. <More>
The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation-funded “Future of the First Amendment” surveys began in 2004, with the largest-ever survey of 112,000 high school students and their First Amendment attitudes. This year’s follow-up survey represents a smaller sample drawn from the original survey. It also includes parents and teachers.
(The complete survey methodology can be found in this report.)
Constitution Day became federal law in December 2004 with the passage of an amendment introduced by Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.). The act mandates that all schools receiving federal funding teach about the Constitution every year on Sept. 17.
In a special Constitution Day statement, Sen. Byrd explained this year why the law is still needed: “To preserve the Constitution, we should not neglect our duty to educate our children and grandchildren about our nation’s founding document. I believe that an informed public is our best defense against tyranny. That is why I supported the law that made the 17th of September, the anniversary of the signing of the Constitution, a special day. The Constitution is both the foundation and the guardian of our liberties. It must be studied with the knowledge that is strong and enduring as our Constitution has been, it is nevertheless a fragile, almost intangible thing that cannot survive without the dedication and constant support of our citizens.”
“This year’s survey shows that teaching the Constitution, like building Rome, is not something you can do in just one day,” said Eric Newton, Knight Foundation’s vice president of journalism programs. “We need to find ways to teach American civics so that every student knows our freedoms are what make our nation the world’s engine of innovation. There are great resources available for teachers and parents who want to make that happen.”
To help teachers and principals teach about the Constitution and the First Amendment, Knight Foundation and its partners provide free resources, including lesson plans, posters, student media assistance and quizzes.
Offers a new batch of tips to educators for teaching about First Amendment issues.
J-Ideas, dedicated to high school journalism and First Amendment awareness, offers a wealth of survey information, including a wide variety of reactions.
American Society of Newspaper Editors
Scholastic journalism site for teen journalists, teachers and guidance counselors.
Radio and Television News Directors Foundation
High school broadcast journalism site has info on Five Freedoms PSA contest, lesson plans.
Channel One Network
The 1Voice project has First Amendment videos, online interactives and lesson plans, including “Five Things to Do on Constitution Day’’ by First Amendment scholar Sam Chaltain, in conjunction with key members of the Channel One News team.
Bill of Rights Institute
Offers Constitution Day resources for both publication and classroom use.
Student Press Law Center
Provides legal advice and information and low-cost educational materials for student journalists on various legal topics.
The First Amendment Center
Works to preserve and protect First Amendment freedoms through information and education.
The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation invests in journalism excellence worldwide and in the vitality of 26 U.S. communities where the Knight brothers owned newspapers. Since 1950 the foundation has granted more than $300 million to advance quality journalism and freedom of expression. It focuses on projects with the potential to create transformational change. For more, visit http://www.knightfoundation.org.