Constitutionally Speaking aims to engage New Hampshire citizens in a civil, yet spirited, dialogue about the critical public policy issues of our time, and to galvanize support for a renewed commitment to civic education in grades K-12. Conceived by the N.H. Supreme Court Society, Constitutionally Speaking launched in 2012 with a public conversation between retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice David Souter and PBS Newswoman Margaret Warner.
Other distinguished guests who have addressed Constitutionally Speaking and N.H. Supreme Court Society audiences include: retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr., constitutional litigators David Boies and Theodore B. Olson, NPR reporter Nina Totenberg, and constitutional scholar Akhil Amar.
Established to dramatically improve civics education in New Hampshire’s schools, the New Hampshire Institute for Civics Education (NHICE) has set an ambitious goal of making the state First in the Nation in Citizenship Preparation.
“Civics education must become a fundamental priority of our schools, and it must involve more than helping students gain an understanding of a substantial body of civic knowledge,” says the organization’s planning document. “To ensure active participation in our democracy, educators must help students engage with their communities and learn a variety of skills associated with political and community life. They also must help students cultivate attitudes and beliefs that might best be described as ‘civic virtues.’ ”
NHICE plans a number of workshops and other events devoted to fulfilling its mission. The first event was a successful Institute that focused on “Cultivating Participatory Citizens: Civics Education and Controversial Conversations.” Thanks to the Treat Foundation and the NH Supreme Court Society, NHICE is planning three institutes in 2016: one for elementary teachers, one for middle school teachers featuring training in iCivics (see articles, above), and one for high school teachers focusing on authentic student government.
The New Hampshire Bar Foundation promotes the role of lawyers in securing equal access to justice and supports the charitable and educational aims of the New Hampshire Bar and its members. It has been a generous supporter of the many programs of the Society, giving grants for the creation of the Institute for Civics Education, and in particular partnering with the Society on its Oral History Project.