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Take Back What We are Due

Zhanna Imel Humanities P-4/5 10/18/13

The United States Constitution has been a leading example in protecting human rights since its birth, during a time when most countries were ruled by monarchs. Since its operation in 1789, amendments have been passed, restricting citizens rights. Although the U.S. is not likely to become a dictatorship, it is still vital for the U.S. to educate high school students on the Constitution, so that our rights remain protected. Knowing what our specific rights are can protect them from being violated as easily in our everyday lives - whether in institutions, a situation with law enforcement officials, or in cases where states or federal government legislate restrictions on those rights. Some of my fellow classmates produced videos on the First Amendment where they interviewed people in downtown Durango, CO. After viewing them, it was disheartening to see that most people, some whom were attorneys and police officers, did not know their rights. A policeman actually violated a students rights out of ignorance. When our own representatives and enforcers of the law do not understand our rights, they cannot know how to enforce the law without infringing upon them. Learning the different standards from Supreme Court rulings on student rights has made me aware of the limitations of our First Amendment rights in school settings. I know what I could and probably could not get away with in school, and how that is different from society. I would not be as knowledgeable on the potential use of my rights if I had not been taught about them from Matt Hughes, my Humanities teacher. We need more teachers like Hughes to educate students not only on the Constitution, but also on how to utilize those rights given by it, so we can uphold it. It is paramount that the people know theirs and the (State/Federal) governments rights with the limitations of them, so we can check the government through protest or petitioning of new policies. Our power becomes null if we do not even know what the government is and is not allowed to do. Most adults who learned about constitutional rights do not remember the constitution much less how to apply it. They may not know their rights are being violated. It is important for future generations to learn about the Constitution and apply it to real life scenarios. The NSA sanctioned intelligence gathering on common citizens is a grey area of legality. That it is considered okay is a sign the U.S. is straying away from the intended purposes of the Constitution. We need responsible leaders to shape the government back to its original goal our Founding Fathers intended it for: to limit federal government power.