Celebrating Freedom Week by helping educate our future leaders

By Joe K. Longley

Our duty as American citizens is to teach our future leaders about the fundamentals of American history so they truly understand what it means to be free.

As Texas schools enter Celebrate Freedom Week — the week of September 17 — the State Bar of Texas Law-Related Education Department (LRE) is here to assist them. During Celebrate Freedom Week, teachers in grades 3-12 are encouraged to focus on the importance of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, including the Bill of Rights, the abolitionist movement, and women’s suffrage.

LRE has developed a multitude of resources — videos, games, puzzles, and quizzes — to help teachers engage meaningfully with young people as they learn our history. My own daughter is an elementary teacher in the Hays Consolidated Independent School District and a true example of how these resources can help.

Through social studies resources and curriculum development assistance, LRE each year trains more than 7,000 Texas teachers who teach more than 338,000 students. The department recently redesigned its website — texaslre.org — as a hub for all Texas teachers and attorneys to have easy access to classroom and professional development resources.

On the website, educators are able to register for specific programs hosted by LRE in their area. They can utilize lesson plans available for pre-kindergarten through the eighth grade as well as world history, U.S. history, and government. Each grade provides lesson plans to assist teachers as they meet the history requirements for that level.

LRE’s programs are specifically designed to help Texas students learn and prepare for the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) assessment tests in U.S. Government and history.

Popular programs include “Liam Learns…7 Principles of the Constitution,” a video series designed to teach the seven principles of constitutionalism: checks and balances, federalism, individual rights, limited government, popular sovereignty, republicanism and the separation of powers..

I was the First. Vote for me!” is a website that teaches students about important firsts in U.S. and Texas history. Students learn about 21 historical figures who made significant contributions to our history.

Oyez, Oyez, Oh Yay!” focuses on court decisions that have affected our country and our everyday lives such as Brown v. Board of Education and Roe v. Wade.

LRE has received overwhelmingly positive feedback from teachers all over Texas.
A teacher from North Richland Hills wrote to the program: “The training I received this week was by far the best elementary social studies training I’ve ever had. Every single lesson, activity, and technology (is) extremely useable and address the TEKS in such a sound and unique way. … Now I feel re-equipped to come back to my district and roll this out to teachers.” 

We know how hard teachers work and the importance of their profession. I am proud that the State Bar of Texas is able to assist them.

Joe K. Longley, an Austin solo practitioner, is the 2018-2019 President of the State Bar of Texas, an administrative agency of the Supreme Court of Texas that provides educational programs for the legal profession and the public, administers the minimum continuing legal education program for attorneys, and manages the attorney discipline system.


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