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  Workshop 7: Controversial Public Policy Issues  
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Workshop 7

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Teacher Perspectives: The issues

JoEllen Ambrose: I was really amazed at the beginning that they were comfortable that we could give the police [a free hand] without identifying how we would restrict them. At the end, as they looked at various situations--and especially when it was personal--they said, “Wait a minute. We’ve got to stop the police because this affects me, and it doesn’t feel good when I’m the one who’s getting pulled over.” Some of the stories that came out I found really moving. Also, it kind of went to the big picture, which is, “What are we willing to give up for security? What does it mean to be a patriot in our society? If we don’t stand up for the principles of the Constitution and if we don’t look to those rights, we really don’t have the society we want.”

I think kids are looking very closely at the Bill of Rights. They’re seeing situations where it is meaningful to look at the Fourth Amendment. When we say, “What is unreasonable about a search?” they’re beginning to think through, “Is race a basis for a reasonable search or not?” We’re talking about equal protection of the laws [and] due process. What are fair procedures that police need to use when they see people suspected of crimes? The government has a constitutional duty to promote the general welfare and establish justice. Those issues hit the very essence of who are we as a country. What does it mean to promote the welfare for all of us yet at the same time balance very important individual rights?


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