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Area Schoolteachers Get Tips From Federal Judge on How To Teach First Amendment

(Judge Marjorie Rendell, at the National Constitution Center, during a break in a schoolteachers' forum on the First Amendment.  Photo by Pat Loeb)

(Judge Marjorie Rendell, at the National Constitution Center, during a break in a schoolteachers’ forum on the First Amendment. Photo by Pat Loeb)

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By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — With technology raising new questions, and courts redefining it, the First Amendment to the Constitution has gotten complicated.

Today, teachers gathered at the National Constitution Center for tips on how to teach the issues raised by the legal guarantee of freedom of speech.

“The issues today, of cyberbullying and hate speech and harassment, they present real challenges,” said Judge Marjorie Rendell, who  knows about challenging First Amendment issues. She sits on the federal appeals court that decided, among other things, that kids can wear “I  ♥  Boobies” bracelets to school (see related story).

“It’s a tough area for the courts so it certainly must be for the lay person trying to deal with it.”

So, the Rendell Institute for Citizenship invited teachers to bring their questions.  And they did.

“I was hoping to find resources I could bring back, hopefully to help make what they’re learning in class more relevant to their lives,” said Jim Kearney, curriculum supervisor in the Radnor School District.

“Students always want to know, ‘How does this apply to me?  Why do I have to care?  How does this affect my life?’ And I think this can answer all those questions,” said South Jersey school teacher Lizette Velasquez.

Eileen Flanagan, a teacher at Waldron Mercy Academy, agrees.  “They are the ones that are going to make a change in the world, so this is a forum for me to help them to become better citizens,” she said.

 

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