New Research Study Confirms Impact of Professional Development in Civics

Jan 23, 2017 / James Madison Legacy Project, Message from the Center

“A people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power

which knowledge gives.”

– James Madison

James Madison, noted as the father of the U.S. Constitution, reminds us in the preceding quote of the importance of an educated citizenry.  Many institutions help to develop Americans’ knowledge and skills and shape their civic character and commitments.  The family, religious institutions, the media, and community groups are important influences to this end.  Our nation’s schools, however, bear a special and historic responsibility for the development of civic competence and civic responsibility. Read the rest of this entry »

2017: The Year Ahead

Jan 04, 2017 / E-news, Message from the Center

We here at the Center for Civic Education could not be more excited for 2017 and all it will bring. Most notably, 2017 marks the 30th anniversary of the We the People program; an extraordinary landmark that we could never have reached without the continued support of the civic education community. As the state-level We the People hearings take place over the next three months, students and coordinators should know they are participating in an extra-special year. Be on the lookout for more information about this anniversary in the months to come.

The upcoming year is also full of opportunities for educators. This summer, the Center is hosting multiple James Madison Legacy Project (JMLP) Institutes, as well as a very special National Academy for Civics and Government. Civic education is more important than ever, and in addition to educating our youth, the Center believes in empowering the nation’s teachers with the tools and strategies necessary to succeed. To learn more about these opportunities, as well as a variety of other ways you can promote active and engaged citizenship, read on.


January 16 marks Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and the Center boasts a wealth of resources for educating students about the power of words, and the history of the civil rights movement. Remember, if you’re using the We the People enhanced e-book, you also have access a clip from King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech and more.

Inauguration Day is January 20. As the 45th president of the United States is sworn into office, educators can utilize our lessons about George Washington’s legacy to learn more about the peaceful transition of power—a principle that has helped keep the Great American Experiment moving forward for more than 200 years.


Black History Month is celebrated each February. In honor of the occasion, the Center has a collection of lessons for grades 6-12, which focus on the civil rights movement and the power of nonviolence.

February 20 is Presidents’ Day. In addition to cutting the cake for Abraham Lincoln, it’s also an excellent opportunity for educators to teach the powers (and limitations) of the executive branch.


March is Women’s History Month. Use our lessons to teach your students about the Equal Rights Amendment, suffrage, and the women who helped shape the civil rights movement.

March is an important month for those interested in attending the National Academy for Civics and Government in July. For those planning on applying to this selective opportunity, make sure your applications are in by March 1. Click here for more information and a complete application form. Those chosen to attend the institute will be notified by March 31.


From April 21 to April 24, the We the People National Finals will be held at the National Conference Center in Washington, D.C. High school teams who have reached the state level will be eligible to compete in this incredibly exciting tournament. Lincoln High School of Portland, Oregon, took home the title last year. Who will be the 2017 champions?

The We the People National Invitational begins on April 28. Not only are we thrilled about We the People’s 30th anniversary, but this year the Invitational also has a new home: the National Conference Center in Washington, D.C. Middle school teams from across the country will have the opportunity to explore all our nation’s capital has to offer.


Law Day is May 1. This year’s theme is “The 14th Amendment: Transforming American Democracy.” Educators are encouraged to examine the legacy of the Fourteenth Amendment, which helped redefine citizenship and the role of the states. This amendment is one of the most enduring elements of  Abraham Lincoln’s legacy.

The We the People National Invitational concludes on May 2.


This summer is full of exciting professional development opportunities for civic educators. In June, we are hosting several JMLP Institutes across the country. The Minnesota-Wisconsin JMLP Summer Institute runs from June 25-June 30. The Missouri JMLP Summer Institute runs from June 26-June 28. These institutes will feature a “blended” approach that incorporates technology into traditional teaching methodology. These institutes are open to the public, and more information is to follow.


From July 8-29, the Center is proud to host the intensive, three-week National Academy for Civics and Government. Twenty-five U.S. teachers and five international teachers will have the opportunity to “engage in serious study and seminar-style discussion of basic ideas of political theory, the principles of the founding of the Constitution and the United States, and the values of American constitutional democracy.” Applications are due March 1.


When it comes to stocking your classroom for the upcoming academic year, we encourage you to explore the Center’s shop for the latest editions of texts like We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution and the Foundations of Democracy series. If you already use the Center curriculum in your classroom, consider adding our enhanced ebooks to your toolkit. Our ebooks come with exclusive digital content that will enhance your classroom experience!


This September 11 marks the 16th anniversary of the tragedy that changed the course of our nation. In 2009, Congress deemed the day one of “National Service and Remembrance.” The Center’s lessons will help engage students with the events of September 11 and their aftermath, with a focus on “diversity, identity, and common ground.”

Constitution Day is September 17, and commemorates the formation of the supreme law of the land. Our K-12 lessons are perfect for taking a closer look at this foundational document that impacts us every day.


Tuesday, November 7 is Election Day, which means that October is the perfect time to revisit our Citizens, Not Spectators curriculum. This off-year election has several federal, state, and local races that are sure to heat up as November nears. With Citizens, Not Spectators, students will be informed and empowered voters when they head to the ballot box.


November is Native American Heritage Month. Throughout the month, take the time to reflect on the vital role of Native Americans in our nation’s past, present, and future. This Library of Congress website offers resources for teachers.

November 11 is Veterans Day, an opportunity to honor those who have served in the military.


Bill of Rights Day falls on December 15. Created by Franklin D. Roosevelt, this day is meant to commemorate the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution, which are integral in protecting the individual liberties of American citizens. Not only is this day perfect for honoring these crucial liberties, but it is also an excellent opportunity for exploring how the Constitution is an ever-changing, flexible document. Our activity To Amend or Not to Amend? investigates the amendment process and has students draft a proposed amendment of their own. Other lessons explore how the Framers of the Constitution didn’t always see eye-to-eye.

Make sure to keep your eyes on the Center for Civic Education homepage and Facebook page for the latest news!

Congratulations, Constitution 101 Graduates!

Dec 14, 2016 / We the People

Recently, Indianapolis residents had the unique opportunity to immerse themselves in lessons about our political system, its philosophical roots, and the ideals embodied in our Constitution. The workshop was made possible by the support of Robert Leming, the National Director of the We the People Program.

Workshop participants were asked critical questions about the present-day challenges facing the Constitution, as well as questions about how the document shaped American institutions and practices. Overall, the workshop proved to be a great opportunity for community members to analyze the relationship between the Constitution and the creation and basic framework of our political system.

On the last day of the workshop, eighth grade students from the We the People program were able to demonstrate a simulated congressional hearing. All participants took home an American Legacy Constitution Booklet, and a We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution textbook. With these tools in hand, they will be able to continue to think critically about what it means to be an active citizen.

All content for the workshop was based on the We the People curriculum, a nationally acclaimed course of study that focuses on the history and principles of the Constitution.

Special thanks to Winning Experiences for co-sponsoring the event. The workshop was held on each Tuesday, from October 25- November 29, 2016, at the Francis W. Parker Montessori School in Indianapolis, IN.

Civic Education: The U.S. Constitution Is the Core

Dec 06, 2016 / Message from the Center

By Charles N. Quigley

Over the past three years U.S. Senators Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ben Cardin (D-Maryland) have passed three successive resolutions expressing the sense of the U.S. Senate about the importance of effective civic education programs in schools in the United States and affirming the importance of constitutional literacy. You can read the resolutions listed below:

S. Res. 427 in the 113th Congress
S. Res. 150 and S. Res. 440 in the 114th Congress

Read the rest of this entry »

American Judges Foundation Awards Grant to We the People

Nov 28, 2016 / Announcements

The Center would like to acknowledge the generosity of the American Judges Foundation, which recently gave a grant of $3,500 to support the We the People program. On behalf of the American Judges Foundation, the Foundation’s President for 2016-17, Judge Catherine Shaffer, expressed the AJF’s ongoing warmest wishes and sincere thanks for all the wonderful work We the People does in advancing civic education for our high school students nationwide. Read the rest of this entry »

Justice Sotomayor Visits Colorado Students

Nov 07, 2016 / E-news

By Ryan Adams, Aurora West College Preparatory, Colorado James Madison Legacy Project Participant

On Friday, September 2, fifteen students from Aurora West College Preparatory Academy had a rare opportunity to interact with Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor as a part of the John Paul Stevens lecture series at the University of Colorado Law School. Before Justice Sotomayor gave a public speech, she interacted with about two hundred high school students for over an hour. Read the rest of this entry »

Milwaukee Project Citizen Class Tackles Tough Issues at Hmong American Peace Academy

Nov 07, 2016 / E-news, Project Citizen

In only his second year of teaching Project Citizen, Michael Hanley at the Hmong American Peace Academy in Milwaukee showed that he is an excellent teacher. In an eloquent video and article from the Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service, Hanley explains that he believes “each child, no matter where they are from or what ethnicity they are, should have access to a high quality education.” Read the rest of this entry »

Soup to Nuts Video Series Now Available on YouTube

Oct 26, 2016 / Foundations of Democracy, Message from the Center

Interested in injecting a little humor into the current political season? Watch Soup to Nuts, a filmstrip the Center released in 1977 to promote student inquiry and discussion of the need for authority, limited government, elections, and the role and responsibilities of the people and the people they elect to serve in their behalf. Although dated, we think it is pretty relevant. Read the rest of this entry »

Project Citizen Workshop to Be Held in Wisconsin

Oct 25, 2016 / Project Citizen

Thanks to a grant from the Wisconsin Humanities Council, a Project Citizen teachers’ workshop will be held on November 12 in Madison. Read the rest of this entry »

Georgetown’s Pulse of the Populace Lets Students Vote on Election Issues

Oct 25, 2016 / James Madison Legacy Project, We the People

Pulse of the Populace from Georgetown University is an online polling platform for students to weigh in on current issues ranging from Obamacare to Syrian refugees and see their representatives’ stances on these issues. Read the rest of this entry »