Rhode Island and the Establishment Clause

This document is a curriculum unit designed by high school teachers, for high school teachers. It is intended to take a fairly heavy and potentially dry topic (the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of U.S. Constitution) and make it fun, relevant and engaging for students and teachers. The curriculum guide is best used when viewed on a computer or tablet because of the embedded links on many of the pages. The recent case in the city of Cranston in which high school student Jessica Ahlquist challenged the constitutionality of a prayer mural hanging in the school auditorium has provided an exciting opportunity for all of us to take a closer look at the unique role that Rhode Island has played over the years in issues related to the Establishment Clause. This multi-day curriculum unit provides resources and specific day-to-day class assignments to help students explore these important issues in a thoughtful and hands-on way. Use the entire teaching unit exactly as we have designed it or feel free to modify it and use only the parts that make sense for what you are trying to accomplish with your students. We realize how pressed for time teachers are to get through all of the material that they are expected to cover in their courses during the school year. With this in mind, you will see that both content and skills emphasized in the “Rhode Island Grade Span Expectations (GSEs) for Civics & Government and Historical Perspectives/R.I. History” are covered in this specific curriculum unit.

Written by:  Dr. Erik J. Chaput and James P. Shea, of Northfield Mount Hermon

Preface by:  Rhode Island Historian Laureate Patrick T. Conley

Click the cover to download the PDF.

RI and the Establishment Clause