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President Kermit L. Hall

President Kermit L. Hall

July 4th Sparks Exploration of Bill of Rights
UAlbany President Kermit Hall leads K-12 teachers from across the nation in a constitutional law institute


ALBANY, N.Y. (June 23, 2005) -- While Americans across the nation celebrate Independence Day with picnics and fireworks, a group of 35 dedicated schoolteachers will convene at UAlbany to learn more about the nation's Bill of Rights and how they can better incorporate it in their classroom teaching.

Led by University at Albany president and constitutional scholar Kermit L. Hall, author and editor of 21 books on the American legal and constitutional system, including the award-winning Oxford Companion to the Supreme Court of the United States (New York, Oxford University Press, 2nd revised edition, 2005), "We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution" is a six-day institute on constitutional rights for educators from public and private elementary, middle, and high schools across the nation.

Hall, serving as academic director for the institute, will team with political scientists Martin Edelman of UAlbany and Stephen Schechter of Russell Sage College, and Indiana teacher Drew Horvath, to guide participants through a in-depth analysis of the American Bill of Rights. Hall, Edelman, Schechter, and Horvath will work with the teachers to explore constitutional rights from the United States, Canada, England, Israel, and South Africa. Participants will be asked to evaluate the Bill of Rights and will "update" the work of James Madison, designing a "new" American Bill of Rights -- an activity they in turn will ask their students to do.

“The events of the past several years have made this discussion particularly relevant,” said Hall. “We give little thought to constitutional rights as we go about our day-to-day dealings, but these rights shape every aspect of our work, relationships, and personal activities.”

Since the inception of the “We the People” program in 1987, more than 26 million students and 100,000 educators have been introduced to the 1791 Bill of Rights, the document that guarantees and outlines many freedoms in the United States.

“We the People,” a national program, is sponsored by the Center for Civic Education, which promotes civic competence and responsibility among young people. Students involved in the program develop greater commitment to democratic principles and values, according to a study conducted by Richard Brody, a professor at Stanford University. Independent studies by Educational Testing Services have revealed that “We the People” students significantly outperformed comparison student groups on every topic of the test taken.

The seminar, held on the UAlbany uptown campus at Empire Commons, Community Building Room 110, begins Sunday, July 3, and runs through Friday, July 8.


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