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!

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 »

Take the Preamble Challenge This Constitution Day!

Sep 12, 2016 / E-news

Celebrate Constitution Day with the Center for Civic Education and the Civics Renewal Network! Sign up to take the Preamble Challenge, a nationwide celebration on September 16, and access the Civics Renewal Network’s free online Teacher Toolkit. Read the rest of this entry »

Matt Strannigan Receives Making Democracy Work Award in Wyoming Supreme Court Program

Sep 12, 2016 / E-news

Matt Strannigan, state director of the Wyoming We the People program, is the recipient of the 2016 Making Democracy Work award, given by the Wyoming League of Women Voters. Read the rest of this entry »

ConSource Offers We the People Primary Sources Correlation and U.S. Constitution for Kids

Jan 25, 2016 / E-news

Looking for a quick and easy way to read the primary sources mentioned in the We the People: The Citizen & the Constitution textbook? ConSource has created correlations linking lessons of the We the People text with primary sources available at ConSource.org. Read the rest of this entry »

James Madison Legacy Project Holds Launch Meeting in Los Angeles

Nov 24, 2015 / E-news

A launch meeting for the James Madison Legacy Project was held on November 6-8 in Los Angeles. The project, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Education, will bring high-quality professional development in civics and government to 2,025 teachers serving more than 202,500 high-need students nationwide. Read the rest of this entry »

We the People by Judge Leonard Padilla

Sep 09, 2015 / E-news, We the People

“What procedural due process rights should be granted to prisoners at Guantanamo Bay?”

Usually, as a workers’ compensation judge, I’m not called upon to ponder such issues. My mind tends to be focused on impairment ratings, modifiers, and disability. Today, however, I’m sitting in a large lecture hall at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., thinking of follow-up questions to ask a panel of “experts” who just finished a rapid fire opening statement of their view on constitutional law—specifically the Bill of Rights. Read the rest of this entry »

We the People Elementary Text Available through NIMAC

Sep 03, 2015 / E-news

The Center’s elementary-level We the People: The Citizen & the Constitution textbook is now available through the National Instructional Materials Access Center. NIMAC is a federally funded organization that makes print instructional materials easily accessible to qualifying blind, visually-impaired, or print-disabled students in specialized formats, such as braille, audio, or digital text. Read the rest of this entry »

American Lawyers Alliance Announces Teacher of the Year Award

Sep 02, 2015 / E-news

Three law-related education teachers  received the American Lawyers Alliance Teacher of the Year Award: Robert Priest of Van Wert High School in Van Wert, Ohio, Jill Baisinger of Cathedral High School in Indianapolis, Indiana, and Robert Ames of Oyster-Adams Bilingual School in Washington, D.C., who was the middle school winner. Read the rest of this entry »