United States Constitutional Literacy
During the national commemoration of the Bicentennial of the United States Constitution, the United States Congress gained a greater awareness of the public’s lack of understanding of the Constitution. With this new awareness, Congress created the James Madison Memorial Fellowship Foundation, a permanent educational trust, to promote the public’s understanding of the Constitution its provisions and meanings. The James Madison Fund is committed to supporting the James Madison Foundation in its mission to ensure greater understanding, especially by young Americans, about the Constitution. We do that by focusing on three key areas where we can have the greatest impact: Educating the educators, transforming civics teachers into Constitutional scholars, and providing content rich educational materials on the Constitution.
National studies show some troubling gaps in the civic knowledge of young Americans. If we are going to survive as a nation, it is crucial that the next generation understand our system of government, the founding principles that support it, and the history that lead to its creation. According to the U.S. Department of Education’s National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP) civics assessment:
Only 39% of young Americans can name all three branches of the U.S. Government
Young Americans are 40% more likely to vote when they turn 18 if taught about elections and voting
Only 25% of young Americans can correctly identify the city In which the Constitution was written
Teach America’s teachers and you amplify efforts to prepare millions of young Americans to inherit the helm of civic rights and responsibility. On average, the efforts of just one teacher impacts 3,750 young student citizens.
This was the most rewarding academic experience I have ever had the privilege to partake in. I will enter the school year with much more confidence incorporating primary constitutional sources in my middle school classroom.
— Mallory Langkau, ‘20 (NH)
The James Madison Fellowship was a once in a lifetime experience. I was able to immerse myself in the Foundation of the American Constitution through reading, lectures, and discussion. The Summer Institute on the U.S. Constitution helped me build a deep well of knowledge that will benefit my students for years to come. The James Madison Fellowship also increased my personal passion for study of the U.S. Constitution. I am excited to get back to my classroom to share that passion with my students.
— Matthew Wunderle, ‘21 (OH)
My experience will be reverberated in my classroom and will ripple through generations. The rigorous Constitutional focus that the James Madison Foundation demands, certainly fills a dangerous gap left by the current educational trend.
— Daryl Frisbie, ‘17 (AK)
The Summer Institute on the U.S. Constitution was an invaluable opportunity to learn from renowned professors and work with seasoned colleagues from across the nation.
— Charly Adkinson, ‘16 (SC)