Let’s Change That Pesky Bill of Rights!

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Let’s Change That Pesky Bill of Rights!

Sixth-grade students in an Arkansas school were given an assignment to update the “outdated” Bill of Rights of the Constitution of the United States. They had not studied the Bill of Rights, yet were asked to change it. Such an assignment seems to denigrate the importance of the right to free speech, the right to bear arms, limits on federal power, and other guaranteed rights that students could theoretically ditch. (National Review, 10-9-13)

bill-of-rightsThe assignment is titled “Assessment over the Bill of Rights,” which doesn’t make grammatical sense. The assignment directions state:

Prioritize, revise, omit two and add two amendments to the Bill of Rights. You need to work together as a team. Each member’s viewpoint needs to be respected and considered, but does not need to be agreed with. Remember, it is okay to agree to disagree! Keeping that in mind, you still need to come to consensus (agreement) about your prioritization, revisions, omissions and additions.

One parent interviewed by DigitalJournal.com was particularly concerned because her daughter and her classmates had not yet studied the Bill of Rights as they currently stand, the actual manner in which they could be amended, or even how an amendment is ratified in the first place. The parent said, “Funny thing, she was never told how the Bill of Rights is amended; I do not believe that amended was even used in the class language, only ‘changed.’” The parent said that there is no book used in the history class, “only handouts that are put in a box for their table to share and place in their binders.” How could students possibly make informed decisions when they are uninformed?

This exercise is an example of the “collaborative” group work that is encouraged by Common Core and that many feel leads to “group think.” Students may be persuaded to go along with more outspoken classmates instead of speaking their mind. Individual students are unable to display their own talents or knowledge when work is done in a group setting.

It is unclear whether this is a Common Core assignment but the Bryant School District in Arkansas operates under Common Core standards.