This series, hosted by Bill Moyers, increases students’ understanding and awareness of the U.S. Constitution as a vital part of the American heritage and of their own lives. Each program features a dramatic episode in which constitutional law directly affects teenagers. The programs show the dynamism that enables the Constitution to adapt as our country changes, the structure that balances constitutional powers and rights, and the critical thinking skills demanded of young people as citizens and learners.
Grade Levels: 6-12
Resource Type: Videos
Limited Government and the Rule of Law
The U.S. Constitution establishes rule by law, limiting the government’s power over its citizens. Dramatic segment: A young woman is unjustly accused of vandalism.
Powers are divided and shared between the state and federal governments. Dramatic segment: A young man confined to a wheelchair finds that his school board does not want to install facilities for the handicapped.
Separation of Powers with Checks and Balances
The Founding Fathers created the judicial, executive, and legislative branches. Dramatic segment: A teenager learns about the interactions of the three branches of government when she discovers that an important nesting place for sea birds may become a government-assigned nuclear waste dump.
Freedom of Expression
Freedom of expression is a constitutional right that sometimes raises questions about the liberty of one person versus the security of all. Dramatic segment: A young man who wants to broadcast a prevention tape on teen suicide may be stopped by parents who fear the program will glamorize suicide.
Equal Protection of the Laws
Covers the growth of equality under law, from a right that protected only white male citizens to modern-day affirmative action. Dramatic segment: An older woman who is an expert pilot may be rejected for a flying job because of her age.
The Constitution and the Economy
The government’s constitutional power to regulate the economy has grown steadily. Dramatic segment: An artistic teenager hired to custom-paint cars may lose his job when anti-pollution regulations make it difficult for the shop to do business.