Scott Smith

Scott Smith

Over the last several months, we have witnessed history happening in our country that has not happened since the Civil War. It is United States history in the making.

Now is a good time to reflect on our U.S. history from when we were in school. Do you remember your U.S. History classes? In Oregon, U.S. History is usually taught in 5th grade and again in high school. How well do you know the Constitution and its amendments and what they stand for?

Yes, there are people who do understand really well and people who think they know them, and people who really don’t know. What does the First Amendment really mean?

In many schools dealing with remote learning, especially at the elementary ages, the teaching of Social Studies has sadly taken a back seat. Understanding the schools are doing their best in these unprecedented times, now is a great time to review for all of us what our founders felt would make us a leading country. The United States is a network of people and cultures working together for the betterment of the world and was designed 246 years ago knowing the country would grow and change. Have we taken it for granted?

This is a great time for us as adults to refresh ourselves and bring our children into the discussion of what it means to be a United States citizen. Below are some general questions along with general resources you might consider when locating and fact-checking yourself. There are many ways of using the internet to search and locate information. Engaging with your children on this quest will help them have a stronger understanding of just how to locate and discuss information about questions that develop during their life.

Our government is built on three areas; the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the amendments. Understanding them and discussing why they were written might provide for a better understanding of just why our government operates the way that it does along with what our responsibilities are as United States citizens.

The Constitution: When was it written? Who were the authors? Where was it written? How many parts are there in the constitution? See kids.britannica.com/kids/article/constitution/352996.

The Bill of Rights: What is the “Bill of Rights?” Who were the authors and why? Do they still apply today? How? See ducksters.com/history/us_bill_of_rights.php.

Amendments: What are constitutional amendments? Who and how can you make an amendment? How many amendments are there? You hear people say, “It’s my First Amendment right.” What does that mean? See ducksters.com/history/us_constitution_amendments.php

How do the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the amendments impact our daily lives? Do they really mean what you assumed they did? What are some ways you might be able to support our government? We are a diverse country made of multiple cultures each having its own perspective and understanding. Over the last couple of months has our government been in jeopardy?

These are all questions we should reflect on as Americans, United States citizens, and how these issues could be peacefully addressed.

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Scott Smith has been an educator in Umatilla County for more than 40 years and is on the Decoding Dyslexia-OR board as their parent/teacher liaison.

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