An educational program unveiled last week by the Ohio Historical Society is meant to help schools comply with a new state law requiring students in grades 4-12 to study the texts of the U.S. and state constitutions, the Declaration of Independence and other historic documents.
Proponents of the new law, signed by Gov. John Kasich in March, said it is important for students to study the actual texts, not just summaries and analyses.
The Founding of America Documents Program, officially starting in January, will use some of the nonprofit historical society’s existing outreach services to help students and teachers learn more about the documents.
Educators will have free access to professional development webinars that will be conducted by history and political science professors in Ohio. Until June 2014, they also won’t have to pay the typical subscription fee to access relevant chapters of an online textbook with lesson plans, videos and activities related to the documents.
The access is provided through grant money from the Martha Holden Jennings Foundation, which supports efforts to improve education.
Project coordinator Mark Butler said organizers heard that the founding documents requirement was under consideration in the Legislature and began considering how they might leverage the historical society’s position to the advantage of students.
“What are those strategies that we have for reaching students in the state, and how can we use them as a good avenue to connect the classrooms to the founding documents?” Butler said.
Distance-learning programs and field trips focused on the founding documents will be available at the regular prices, the historical society said. The “History-to-Go” van program, intended to bring historical information directly to schools, also is getting a founding documents component.