Within that tension, civic and political organizations have sought to fill the void by creating constitutional curricula.
Newspapers, civic organizations, advocacy groups, law schools, courts, museums and constitutional scholars have lined up to provide lesson plans to shape an otherwise unstructured educational mandate.
Yet those same questions remain. In fact, the early national responses to "Constitution Day" provide a window into the larger interpretive battle for the Constitution.
Contrast, for example, three organizations that have chosen different approaches to Constitution Day.
Constitution Day Inc., is organizing schoolchildren across America to recite in unison the Preamble to the Constitution. This year, Gen. Colin Powell was to lead thousands of students in the simultaneous recitation of the document's first 52 words. Patriotic and simple, it provides an interesting textual lesson about the Constitution as a fixed and iconic document.
For a more hands-on approach, the American Constitution Society has developed lesson plans to engage students about the application of constitutional rights and responsibilities in school today.
ACS's lessons are part of a program meant to create an ongoing constitutional dialogue throughout the year about evolving rights in the 21st Century.
This interactive approach seeks to educate students about how the Constitution affects them in their daily lives.
Finally, the National Constitution Center has developed a growing catalogue of lesson plans submitted by a wealth of public policy and civic education collaborators. The lessons are as diverse and thoughtful as the contributors - from C-SPAN to Colonial Williamsburg - and offer the full spectrum of approaches to constitutional issues, history and debate.
A review of the resources demonstrates the range of possibilities open to educators.
So what is a teacher to do?
In that dilemma lies the genius of the Constitution and Constitution Day.
The Constitution's power derives from "We the People," and each generation is tasked to claim for itself the rights and responsibilities of that inheritance.
Each teacher, each student, each citizen must work at understanding the lessons of our constitutional history.
Constitution Day is but a forced test to think about the role our greatest document plays in each of our lives. The choices of millions of teachers will influence millions of students. And before they choose, those teachers with the help of lawyers and civic educators must study, deliberate, and engage with the Constitution, just as citizens have for the past 220 years.
The answer of "how to celebrate Constitution Day" is to participate in the debate.
Constitution Day, like a system of democratic self-government, presents a continuous challenge.
Although political winds shape Constitution Day lessons, and overworked educators face additional burdens, the goal of constitutional literacy is worth achieving.
With the support of legal organizations, courts, and civic leaders, Constitution Day can become a symbol of the difficult work that is democracy. Examining the Constitution is a prelude to participation in civic life. It is a challenge we should not fear, and a test we must not fail.
A.G. Ferguson is a Washington, DC attorney, co-author of "Youth Justice in America" and active in constitutional literacy programs, including the American Constitution Society's Constitution Day Project.
Copyright 2007 by the American Forum.