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Letter: Misguided interference from the government

As Ben Leubsdorf reported (“House: Honor Constitution Day,” Monitor Local & State page, Jan. 31), our state representatives have mandated that every public school hold “patriotic exercises” on Sept. 17, the date that our Constitution was signed in 1787. (The Constitution did not go into effect until June 21, 1788.) When passed by the state Senate, this bill will fulfill a federal requirement for Constitution Day celebrations in public schools.

The mandate to hold patriotic exercises in all public schools on the same day is a perfect example of misguided governmental interference. Lawmakers may believe that our country is so lacking in patriotic fever that it is a good idea to invent new celebrations and take away instruction time from our hard-pressed teachers. I disagree.

As a longtime high school teacher of U.S. history, I am all in favor of requiring that every public school student study the U.S. Constitution, a subject to which I devote three weeks in October. I would not be opposed to having selections from Montesquieu, Locke, Blackstone, and Federalist 10 be required reading. But to mandate that I have to lose class time on Sept. 17 – at which point in my course I am not even up to the French and Indian War – to hold “patriotic exercises” about the Constitution is the same sort of intrusive governmental interference that makes many in New Hampshire question the erosion of our liberties.



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