Promoting Constitutional Literacy in High Schools Across the State

September 19, 2016

Who should be allowed to vote?

This question will be the opener to lessons being taught in high school classrooms across the state through September 23 as part of the Constitution Day Project offered by the University of Colorado Law School.

Students, alumni, and local attorneys volunteer for the annual initiative, hosted by CU Boulder’s Byron R. White Center for the Study of American Constitutional Law. This year they’ll be visiting Colorado schools everywhere from Glenwood Springs to Wray, Parker, Longmont, Fort Collins, Denver, and beyond. Each year’s lesson focuses on a different theme.

“After students are prompted to think about who should be allowed to vote in elections, they will then learn about the history of voting rights in the United States,” said Melissa Hart, law professor and director of the White Center. “We then discuss several cases in which restrictions on voting have been challenged under the Fourteenth Amendment and end with the students considering a hypothetical voter ID law.”

The lesson plan was created by law students with the guidance of several high school civics teachers and Hart. Last year’s lesson plan focused on how the Constitution interacts with anti-discrimination laws.

“This is a great opportunity to get outside of the law school and be involved in local communities,” said Lydia Lulkin ('18), a law student and research fellow at the White Center. “The law students and attorneys who volunteer are genuinely interested and excited to have the chance to teach high school students about the Constitution. The hypothetical cases also give high school students a glimpse into thinking like a lawyer.”

Constitution Day is the annual commemoration of the Sept. 17, 1787, signing of the United States Constitution.

Since the Constitution Day Project was launched in 2011, the White Center has sent hundreds of law students, alumni and local attorneys to hundreds of high school classrooms across the state. The project is supported in part by a CU Boulder Outreach Award.

Colorado Law student Travis Weiner ('18) explains the U.S. Constitution in one minute.
PICTURED: Colorado Law students Adria Robinson and Dave Digiacomo in 2011 talk with a group of South High School students in Denver as part of the Constitution Day Program. (Photo by Patrick Campbell/University of Colorado)