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A More or Less Perfect Union

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Episode 1 - A Republic

Some believe that the Constitution is proof that democracy is the guiding principle of our society. But the Constitution didn’t establish a democracy. In fact, democracy is only one aspect of the system the Constitution put in place – a republic. But what’s the difference between a republic and a democracy? Judge Douglas H. Ginsburg, a constitutional expert with 30 years of experience on the Federal Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., along with several constitutional experts, explains the differences between the two types of government.

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Episode 1 Preview - A Consitution in Writing

Why does having the rules for our government written down matter? Learn the history of the U.S. Constitution in the first episode of A More or Less Perfect Union – A Constitution in Writing.

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Episode 1 - Articles of Confederation

Before the U.S. Constitution was created, the Articles of Confederation loosely joined the states together as individual entities, but it didn’t create a union. This ended up causing problems and led to the creation of the Constitution.

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Episode 1 - A Government of Laws Not of Men

When the meaning of the Constitution is discussed, two philosophies dominate the debate: Original Meaning or Living Constitutional. Why is it so important to have the Constitution in writing, and more specifically, how do you take what was written over 200 years ago and apply it to modern issues today?

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Episode 1 - Slavery: The Original Sin

Why did the Constitution allow slavery when it went against the idea that "all men are created equal?" Compromise. Failure to do so meant that the Constitution (and thus the country) would die before it was ever adopted.

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Episode 1 - The Judicial Branch

How did the branch of our government that was meant to be the least powerful morph into something very different? What is the judicial branch allowed to do according to the Constitution?

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Episode 1 - George Washington

Though George Washington spoke infrequently during the Constitutional Convention, his steadfast demeanor contributed greatly to the adoption of the document. Washington is the only president in history to unanimously win the electoral college.

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Episode 2 - Dred Scott

Born into slavery, but later taken to a free state, Dred Scott brought a legal case against his owner and challenged the law, demanding his freedom under the “once free, always free” doctrine. His case eventually came before the Supreme Court, where it took a turn the Framers never envisioned.

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Episode 2 Preview - A Constitution for All

Our Constitution has changed over the more than 200 years since its creation. How did we create a “more perfect” union, or for that matter, a “more perfect” Constitution? Learn how the Constitution has changed over the years to become more inclusive in the second episode of A More or Less Perfect Union – A Constitution for All.

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Episode 2 - First Amendment

The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects many of our important rights. What are they, why they are so unique, and why is the Sedition act used as an example of what can happen if the government doesn’t acknowledge First Amendment rights?

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Episode 2 - The Rights of the Accused

The rights of the accused – the Fourth through the Eight Amendments – protect people from an “all powerful” court system. Without this protection, the government would have free rein to take advantage of people when they are at their most vulnerable: when they have been accused of a crime. Learn why these are so important and how the Miranda rights reinforce our constitutional protections.

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Episode 2 - Second Amendment

The Pink Pistols, an LGBT group, formed to teach members of their community how firearms can be used for personal safety. Learn more about their group and the Second Amendment.

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Episode 2 - Slavery

Slavery was an extremely harsh institution and a stain on the United States’ history. What was a slave’s life like? Visit the Whitney Plantation and hear from a descendent of one of the slaves who lived there as well as the plantation’s Director of Research.

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Episode 2 - The Lost Amendments

The Ninth and Tenth Amendments are known as “The Lost Amendments.” Together they reinforce liberty by ensuring that the rights listed in the Constitution are not your only rights, and strictly limit the power of the federal government. Learn about these forgotten amendments that reaffirm individual liberty as something innate to humans, not granted by governments.

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Episode 2 - 19th Amendment

Before the Nineteenth Amendment passed in 1920, 50% of the population of the United States – women – weren’t allowed to vote. The suffrage movement demanded that women, who are inarguably people (persons), be granted the equal protection of the laws that the Fourteenth Amendment implied they already should have had.

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Episode 3 - Brown v. Board of Education

“Separate but Equal” was ruled acceptable in Plessy v. Ferguson. That was the first step towards sanctioned segregation in the United States, particularly in the Southern States. The Supreme Court case of Brown v. Board of Education would eventually lead to the elimination of segregation in the United States.

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Episode 3 - Eminent Domain

Eminent domain allows the government to take a person’s private property with just compensation for the “public purpose.” (Prior to the Kelo case, the Constitution read for “public use.”) But who determines what’s for “public purpose” or what “just compensation” is? Can eminent domain be abused? Charlie Birnbaum’s story might give you a new perspective.

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Episode 3 Preview - Our Constitution at Risk

Are the people’s constitutional rights at risk? Some think that’s the case. Liberty is being chipped away at daily, and before you know it, it’s gone. Explore how our liberty is slowly being lost and what threatens our Constitution in the third episode of A More or Less Perfect Union – Our Constitution at Risk.

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Episode 3 - The Rise of the Fourth Branch

There are three constitutionally designed branches of our government, but there’s also a fourth that defies the checks and balances designed by the Constitution to limit the power of government – the federal agencies. Created by the Congress and the president, the agencies have the power to create, rule on, and enforce laws (aka regulations) all on their own. With the power of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches in one body, we live in the law of regulation. How did it get this way?

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Episode 3 - Commerce Clause

The government is allowed by the Constitution to regulate “interstate commerce,” but that clause is being stretched to control many areas of our lives that the Framers didn’t intend. Learn about the Commerce Clause and how the interpretation of this clause has led to an increase in government power.

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Episode 3 - A Republic if You Can Keep It

At Faneuil Hall in Boston, Massachusetts, a group of new citizens swear an oath to the Constitution. This oath is to be cherished, and the liberties guaranteed by the Constitution need to be protected. Our liberties can only be protected by people knowing their rights and pushing back when they are at risk.

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Episode 3 - Plessy v. Ferguson with Sybil Morial

Fifty years before Rosa Parks, Homer Plessy fought for his right to ride wherever he wanted on a train in Louisiana. His courageous fight would ultimately lead to a Supreme Court case that would introduce the standard of “Separate but Equal” in the United States, sanctifying segregation.

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Episode 3 - Local Government Overreach

Do you think a tour guide needs to be regulated? Just to tell someone where the bench in Forrest Gump was, you’d have to pass a physical and a test to do so. Learn about “rent seeking” and why it’s so important to pay close attention to what’s happening in your local government.

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