Thursday, October 1, 2020

Civics with Dean - Class 2


Just short of a week after Constitution Day, we were already at class number two! 233 years ago, thirty-nine delegates met in secrecy in Philadelphia and signed a document establishing the basis of our government and way of life. But another story is the trust and “on a promise” that a bill of rights would be included into that document - after ratification and apprehension of those opposed.

My opening question to the class was, “Could you imagine in politics today either side trusting the other to carry out what was a mere agreement, a promise to include the Bill of Rights?" Suffice to say, the answers were a resounding, “NO WAY!"

So then, why were they included?

As students pondered that question, we spoke of the federalists and anti-federalists, the desire to design a central government, while also ensuring states’ rights. This list, or enumeration of these prescribed rights is really protection of those rights! As classroom discussion became more centered on how the Bill of Rights was meant to ensure that our newly formed central government WOULD NOT overstep its authority by violating them, we turned to current events (found in archives – "Executive order to ban two social media platforms," August 2020) and pondered - what steps do you take to protect your online privacy? [Truth be told, I have a Union Leader reporter, Kim Haas, as a guest speaker next class. She will be discussing a NH case regarding social media and this was a perfect introduction for class 3.]

Realizing you start with number one sequentially; we began discussing the First Amendment. After a brief overview, students watched First Amendment, Why a Bill of Rights?’s educational video from the minicourse, First Amendment. They were to think and respond to the following questions (From the First Amendment minicourse Discussion/Essay questions):

  • Why did some of the Framers resist the idea of a bill of rights? Why did some insist it was needed? Which group do you agree with? Explain your position.
  • Do you agree with the woman in the video that we often take our rights, especially our First Amendment rights, for granted? Why or why not?

Interestingly, students knew most of the Bill of Rights, perhaps not by exact number, but were truly unaware they were really protections of the rights within each amendment. In addition, reviewing the Declaration of Independence I had on the board showed students that many of the grievances against King George III (quartering of troops, excessive bail, speedy trial, etc.) could also be found in the Bill of Rights. This only solidified the passion and need to make sure these injustices would not be replicated in the new government of the United States.

The trust back then was solid. The Constitution passed on the promise that a Bill of Rights would be added. The Framers lived up to their word, and the United States got its protection of natural rights.

Next class, we'll be diving into Freedom of the Press with our reporter guest speaker!

Dean Graziano is the Vice-President of He is a multi-state, award-winning educator and former Curriculum Specialist Teacher grades 6-12 Social Studies, with over 25 years in education. He served on the Massachusetts MCAS Standard Setting Panel, and also selected by the College Board to be an Advanced Placement Reader for U.S. History. He worked on the historical inquiry model and a national presenter for ABC-Clio, a Social Studies data base company. 

In 2007, in a surprise visit to his school, he was awarded the United States Department of Educations' American Star of Teaching Award. Dean was selected as the 2017 State of New Hampshire's Extended Learning Opportunity Coordinator- of -the Year. Dean’s pilot program in Rochester, NH was singled out by NH Governor, Chris Sununu as the model for the State of N.H. Career Academies. In 2019, he developed and implemented a proposal to purchase a Mobile Classroom ( a new & remodeled 36’ RV, aka M.A.P.s) utilizing Perkins V funding, to bring CTE/WBL programming - leveling the playing field/equity for ALL NH students and spoke nationally at several ACTE Conferences on this model.