This is the 227th year since 39 men signed the Constitution of the United States, on motion by Benjamin Franklin. The document, while grossly flawed, enjoyed “the advantage of their joint wisdom,” as Franklin told the Convention, and, at the same time, reflected “their prejudices, their passions, their errors of opinion, their local interests, and their selfish views.” Nevertheless, the ever-wise Franklin urged approval.
After 27 amendments, a civil war, and rejection of more than 11,500 proposals to amend, our Constitution remains workable.
If this document, which is more suited to an 18th-century world, is to survive in the 21st century, then we must do more to ensure that every generation of adults knows what is in the Constitution, what it requires of them, and what it provides to them.
Numerous studies and surveys show that Illinois’ public schools do not adequately teach civics and government, and that too many people have misconceptions about the Constitution and the courts. The Illinois Judges Association has developed several programs to bring judges into classrooms and community gatherings to discuss the Constitution and its meaning. We do so because the greatest threat to the continued viability of the Constitution is an uninformed public.
The IJA encourages Illinoisans to promote greater civics education in our schools to ensure that the rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution remain secure.
Judge Michael B. Hyman
President, Illinois Judges Association