The Star News Education Foundation’s Guide to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights for Secondary School Students is a supplementary text that discusses the people and events leading up to the ratification of the Constitution of the United States.
Students learn the personalities, policies, and some of the politics the framers dealt with as they designed what was as the time, a unique form of government. The story then continues through the first ten amendments, known as The Bill of Rights.
Chapter One begins by introducing students to philosopher Os Guinness’ concept of “The Golden Triangle of Freedom” – the interdependent values of successful societies that are buttressed by virtue, faith, and freedom.
One side of the triangle – virtue – describes behavior, both individually and within a society as a whole. Another side of the triangle – faith – describes beliefs, also both individually and within a society as a whole. And the final side of the triangle – freedom – describes a state of being or existence which can only be fully experienced if it exists for all individuals within that society, not a select few.
Chapter Two describes the context – the politics of the 1770s and 80s in the original 13 colonies (and in particular, Philadelphia and Boston) – that created the conditions for crafting the Constitution that would bind the newly-liberated American territories after the perilous Revolutionary War.
The Continental Congress of the 13 rebellious colonies, convening in York Town, Pennsylvania (now simply called York), proposed the Articles of Confederation in November 1777 as the contract among the thirteen states they used to unite in their efforts to win their freedom from Great Britain.
The Revolutionary War had already been in progress for two-and-a-half years, and a year earlier, the colonies had signed a Declaration of Independence from Great Britain.
It was not until 1781, however, that all 13 rebellious states actually ratified the Articles of Confederation.
It took almost four long years from November 1777 until March 1781 before this mutually binding governing agreement was ratified by all thirteen former colonies. But the document was so fundamentally flawed, the new government floundered until a new agreement – our Constitution – was proposed and ratified.
From there, students are introduced to The Preamble, perhaps one of the most underrated passages of the Constitution. Written by one of the most notorious rakes of his time, Gouverneur Morris penned the opening paragraph – just 52 words – that would establish the purpose and framework of the 4,000 words that follow.
Even though the Constitutional Convention began in May of that year, it was not until September 8, 1787 – a mere nine days before the final document was signed by 39 of the delegates in attendance and Benjamin Franklin famously told Mrs. Powel the convention had delivered “A Republic if you can keep it”- that the delegates got around to the task of writing a Preamble.
On that day, the delegates selected a Committee of Style and Arrangement, whose task was to write the final version of the Constitution and add a new Preamble for signature by the delegates followed by submission to the Confederation Congress, and then the states for ratification.
“On September 8, 1787, with the convention quickly drawing to a close, a “Committee was then appointed by Ballot to revise the stile of and arrange the articles which had been agreed to by the House.” The members of the committee were William Samuel Johnson, Alexander Hamilton, Gouverneur Morris, James Madison and Rufus King. These five men were known as the Committee of Style and Arrangement and it was their job to organize the layout of the numerous resolutions that had already taken shape and formed the new Constitution.
In all, The Guide to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights for Secondary School Students includes twenty-one chapters, with discussion questions at the end of each of chapters. The soft-cover book also contains a robust appendix containing the complete text of the Constitution, The Bill of Rights, the remaining Amendments 11 – 27, a glossary, and sourced endnotes with QR codes.
The National Constitution Bee program began as a project of The Tennessee Star in 2017. It became a project of Star News Digital Media, Inc. in August 2018 when it acquired The Tennessee Star. In December 2019, Star News Digital Media transferred its ownership of textbooks and the National Constitution Bee to the newly formed Star News Education Foundation.
The first Tennessee Star Constitution Bee was held in 2017 at Sycamore High School of Cheatham County Schools in Pleasant View, Tennessee, the second was held in 2018 at the Williamson County Administration Building in Franklin, Tennessee. The third was held in 2019 at Metro Christian Academy in Goodlettsville, Tennessee.
In late 2019, organizers announced The National Constitution Bee for 2020, which was ultimately held at the SpringHill Suites Marriott in Brentwood, Tennessee.
2017 Tennessee Star Constitution Bee winner Noah Farley took his trip to Washington, D.C. in October 2017, where he met with Federal Court of Appeals Judge Thomas Griffith.
2018 Tennessee Star Constitution Bee winner Cooper Moran took his trip to Washington, D.C. in July 2018, and was at the Capitol where he witnessed Supreme Court nominee, now Supreme Court Justice, Brett Kavanaugh’s first walk through the halls of the Capitol with Vice President Mike Pence on their way to meet the United States senators who would vote on his confirmation.
2019 Tennessee Star Constitution Bee winner Aryan Burns visited Washington, D.C. in the summer of 2019.
Despite a global pandemic, organizers held the first-ever National Constitution Bee in October, 2020. Students from across the nation gathered to compete for the $10,000 education scholarship, which was ultimately won by senior Jackson Carter.
The National Constitution Bee 2021 will be held October 16 in Tennessee.
The Grand Champion will be awarded a $10,000 education scholarship.
GRANTS of Books for Teachers and Parents
The Star News Education Foundation is providing grants of 20 books each to up to 18 teachers and home school groups around the country who commit to using The Guide to the Constitution and Bill of Rights for Secondary School Students and prepare their students to compete in the 2020 National Constitution Bee program.
For details on how to apply for those grants email us at mleahy@