The Norman Transcript

Local news

February 28, 2012

OU panel discussion focuses on Constitutional history

NORMAN — To conclude what University of Oklahoma President David Boren called “one of the most important single-day programs in American history ever held in our state,” all six of the day’s Teach-In speakers convened in Paul F. Sharp concert hall for a panel discussion moderated by nationally-acclaimed talk show host Diane Rehm.

Joining them was Kyle Harper, director of the OU Institute for American Constitutional Heritage and an assistant professor in the OU Department of Classics and Letters.

The discussion topic was “The Teaching of Constitutional History in the 21st Century University,” and, in his introduction, Boren called a nationwide lack of knowledge on the U.S. Constitution “very alarming,” stating that college graduates with only one government or U.S. history course on their transcripts “Do not meet (his) definition of a well-educated person.”

Rehm’s primary question drew from this statement and prompted panelists to identify the shortcomings at the center of this trend of ignorance, with replies covering a broad range of issues.

Pulitzer prize-winning historian David McCullough answered first, saying that we must support teachers fully and not blame them, rather understanding that true civic involvement and understanding begins at home, with primary responsibility resting on parents.

Yale professor Akhil Reed Amar agreed, praising his parents’ inspiring him at an early age with visits to Mount Vernon and the White House, and saying college is “a bit late” to begin forming good civic habits.

Another prominent point of concurrence was that educators and Americans in general must avoid a tendency to separate themselves from their founders and foundational documents, viewing the country’s founders as far-distant heroes and the Constitution as untouchable.

In their responses, Rosemarie Zagarri and Peter Onuf called attention to the Constitution’s contingency elements, showing how the founders themselves recognized their government and personal judgment as imperfect, and expecting the people to be involved in its processes.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local news
  • Junior Police Graduation First Junior Police Academy graduates

    The room went dark and a slideshow flipped through photos of children participating in the first Junior Police Academy as kids chattered excitedly, remembering what they had done over the past two weeks. Norman Police Department hosted ...

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Officials say transparency lacking in Wal-Mart zoning

    Norman city staff recently admitted to withholding information from the public regarding a controversial zoning change in southeast Norman. If approved by the city council, the proposal will allow a Wal-Mart supercenter at Cedar Lane and ...

    July 25, 2014

  • Nonprofit raises $3.9M-plus for new center

    The Center for Children and Families, a United Way of Norman partner agency, announced Thursday that it exceeded its public fundraising goal of $3.5 million and raised more than $3.9 million to complete the purchase and renovation of a ...

    July 25, 2014

  • Police log

    Police responded to the following incidents Wednesday: · 5:58 a.m. indecent exposure, 100 block of West Comanche Street · 6:08 a.m. burglary in progress, 100 block of West Hayes Street · 8:09 a.m. larceny report, 100 ...

    July 25, 2014

  • Felonies filed

    The following people were charged with felony counts in the Cleveland County Court Clerk’s Office: · Angela Beth Mendinghall, 36, unauthorized use of a vehicle; driving with a canceled, suspended or revoked license · Daniel ...

    July 25, 2014

  • Grad to serve as delegate at camp

    William Long, 2014 Norman North High School graduate, recently represented Oklahoma as a delegate at the 2014 National Youth Science Camp. Long joined 100 other top high school graduates representing the United States and eight other ...

    July 25, 2014

  • Healthplex, EMSStat recognized

    Norman Regional Health System’s Healthplex and EMSStat teams were recognized Thursday by the American Heart Association, receiving a Silver Plus Quality Achievement Award. Living in a state where one in four deaths are due to heart ...

    July 25, 2014

  • Crime news

    Norman man charged for possession of child porn A Norman man was charged with possession of juvenile pornography after law enforcement tracked an IP address that child porn had been downloaded from....

    July 25, 2014

  • Shop couple charged again

    A Norman couple whose felony charges were dropped last year for intent to distribute synthetic marijuana out of their aromatherapy shop were charged again Thursday in Cleveland County District Court. Dennis Kirby England, 42, and Christie ...

    July 25, 2014

  • Norman native reflects on winning Emmy Award

    Norman native Kevin Hurley won an Emmy Award last month for his work as a producer on Steve Harvey’s daytime talk show. Hurley has come a long way from home, but still remembers his Norman roots. NTown caught up with him to pick his brain ...

    July 25, 2014