The Tampa Bay times wrote in 2012, “America needs more citizens. Not more lawyers. Not more politicians. Not more lobbyists. America needs more people informed about current events and thinking critically about issues who vote based on depth of knowledge, not impulse. Citizens.”
The We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution Program promotes civic competence and responsibility among the nation’s 5th, 7th and 12th grade students. The program’s interactive strategies, relevant content and the simulated congressional hearing make teaching and learning exciting for both students and teachers. Since its inception in 1987, more than 28 million students and 75,000 educators have participated in the We the People Program.
The We the People curriculum enhances students’ understanding of the institutions of American constitutional democracy and helps them to identify the contemporary relevance of the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Critical thinking exercises, problem-solving activities, and cooperative learning techniques help develop the participatory skills necessary for students to become active, responsible citizens.
The culminating activity is a simulated congressional hearing in which students testify before a panel of judges. Students demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of constitutional principles and have opportunities to evaluate, take, and defend positions on relevant historical and contemporary issues.
The We The People program is sponsored here, in the State of Nevada, by both the Nevada Bar Foundation and the Nevada Center for Civic Engagement and flourishes with the help of many parents and members of the community, often lawyers, teachers, judges and students who mentor other students at lower grade levels than themselves, who serve as coaches each year.
What the Research Says
- A “great instructional success,” is how the Educational Testing Service characterizes the We the People program. Independent studies by ETS have revealed that We the People students “significantly outperformed comparison students on every topic of the tests taken.”
- Students involved in the We the People program develop greater commitment to democratic principles and values, according to a study by Richard Brody of Stanford University. The study concludes that the program is effective in promoting political tolerance because participating students feel more politically effective and perceive fewer limits on their own political freedom.
- A 2001 survey of We the People alumni revealed that they are better informed and participate at higher rates than their peers. The data suggests that voting rates are significantly higher among alumni than nonparticipating peers surveyed in the 2000 American National Election Study (NES). 82% of We the People alumni voted in November 2000, in contrast to 48 percent turnout by peers.
Source: Center for Civic Education
“Through the educational experiences of the We the People program, our students of today not only become involved, informed citizens of tomorrow, but develop life skills like teamwork, poise, public speaking, work ethic and responsibility. We the People is an important component of today’s educational curriculum …” – Amy P. Walker, Executive Director, Public Education Foundation of Evansville, Inc.