Nov 16, 2018 / Project Citizen, We the People
In April of this year, Cheryl Cook-Kallio assumed the mantle of state coordinator for the We the People Programs, including both We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution and We the People: Project Citizen.
“My entire adult life has been about civic engagement,” says Cook-Kallio. She began teaching Project Citizen and We the People at the middle school level in the early nineties before she became a James Madison Fellow, which allowed her to increase her constitutional content knowledge and work with Senator Dianne Feinstein and the federal courts. She eventually moved to teaching at the high school level, specifically to teach a We the People competition class.
“All these things led my former and current students to encourage me to run for public office in 2006. I retired from teaching in 2015 after 39 years. I will never retire from encouraging excellent civic education.”
State and congressional district coordinators are responsible for ensuring that students and teachers throughout the United States have access to sets of We the People textbooks, providing exemplary professional development, and helping classes conduct simulated congressional hearings. Cook-Kallio has both the hands-on experience and enthusiasm for civic education to excel as the California State Coordinator.
“[We the People and Project Citizen] encourage students to learn for the sake of learning. That is a teacher’s dream,” says Cook-Kallio. She sees the programs as a platform for civil discussion that places value on diversity of opinion based on fact, and these principles are essential in the encouragement of participatory democracy. It makes sense, then, that her favorite Founder is James Madison, who “was a pragmatist. If one suggestion didn’t work, he had another. He had a brilliant political mind and little ego. He was someone who learned for the sake of learning.”
Aug 14, 2018 / E-news, Project Citizen
Seventeen projects in both the traditional and digital formats were submitted for the 2018 Project Citizen National Showcase! Students dealt with a variety of topics from affordable housing to school schedules to HIV prevention, offering public policy solutions after doing extensive research in their communities.
Classes completed four steps in their projects: identifying the problem, proposing alternative solutions, identifying their preferred policy answers, and creating an action plan. Traditional projects display these steps on multi-paneled poster board and are accompanied by research binders. Digital projects sent in their materials organized in a powerpoint presentation.
See this year’s results here.
To find out more about the Project Citizen curriculum, check out the Project Citizen website here.
Sep 25, 2017 / E-news, Project Citizen
Ghanaian students have now been participating in Project Citizen programs for eleven years! Since 2006, the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) has been organizing Project Citizen in all ten regional capitals of Ghana to empower young people with the knowledge and skills to be informed citizens.
Students from both senior and junior high schools identify real-world issues in their communities and present their research and solutions to a panel of judges from various academic disciplines. Judges evaluate the presentations and arguments of students who come up with solutions to solve real issues they have identified in their communities. Some topics researched by students include teenage pregnancy, cement dust pollution, child marriage, and elections.
Students present their project to a panel of judges.
Participants develop critical thinking and research skills, confidence in public speaking, and knowledge of the public policy process. These tools are critical in helping them understand democratic values and principles, so that they may demand transparency and accountability on key issues in Ghana.
NCCE has also collaborated with the Ghana Education Service (GES) to form Civic Education Clubs in public and private schools, where students are extending their civic education beyond even their Project Citizen portfolios.
Jun 08, 2017 / Civitas International Programs, Project Citizen
Nearly four hundred students, teachers, and young artists participated in the 20th annual Project Citizen Finals in Bosnia and Herzegovina this year, presenting public policy portfolios that represented thirty-five elementary and high schools. The event was hosted by Civitas Bosnia and Herzegovina (Civitas BiH)–a Civitas International Programs partner–as well as the U.S. Embassy Sarajevo Office for Public Affairs and the state government Ministry of Civil Affairs.
Students show their understanding of public policy by applying it to issues that affect their lives and communities.
Participants assembled in the Great Hall of the Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina on Saturday, May 20, as Paul Horowitz, the United States Deputy Chief of Mission, declared the opening of the showcase. Other notable attendees were Leah Pease, head of the U.S. Embassy Office for Public Affairs; Rahela Dzidic, the U.S. Embassy education specialist; Adnan Husic, Deputy Minister of Civil Affairs; Predrag Damjanovic, head of the Republika Srpska Pedagogical Institute; and, Zoran Matosevic, Deputy Minister of the Middle Bosnia Ministry of Education.
Project Citizen teaches students the fundamentals of democracy at all academic levels and provides practical ways for young people to participate as responsible citizens. Students identify a public policy problem in their community. They then research the problem, evaluate alternative solutions, develop their own solution in the form of a public policy, and create a political action plan to enlist local or national authorities to adopt their proposed policy. Participants develop a portfolio of their work and present their project in a public hearing showcase before a panel of civic-minded community members. Students often contact public officials and attempt to convince them to adopt their policy proposal.
In this year’s showcase, students explored social problems and advocated for their resolution by suggesting changes to public policy. Project Citizen is one of the many programs led by Civitas BiH. Since its establishment in 1996 as a joint initiative of the Center for Civic Education, Civitas BiH has been viewed as a leader in civic education. The academic and training materials developed by Civitas BiH are the only materials in the official curricula in use by all ethnic groups in Bosnia and Herzegovina’s elementary and high schools. With interculturalism as a focus, Civitas BiH organizes multiethnic youth democracy camps, homestay exchanges, volunteer activities, and school lessons to create a democratic culture in schools.
Although the Project Citizen Finals weekend was drawn to a close by Drew Giblin, the U.S. Embassy Attaché for Culture and Education, Civitas BiH continues to promote the goals of increasing civic education and creating a willingness in young people to use democratic procedures for making decisions and managing conflict.
Mar 08, 2017 / Project Citizen
In Eagle River, Alaska, three middle schoolers are striving to make a difference in their community, and Project Citizen is here to help. In Project Citizen, a Center for Civic Education program, students identify a public policy problem in their community. They then research the problem, evaluate alternative solutions, develop their own solution in the form of a public policy, and create an action plan to enlist local or state authorities to adopt their proposed policy. Read the rest of this entry »
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 »
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 »
Sep 15, 2016 / Project Citizen
By Heather Tomchek
In 2007, I took a class about Project Citizen in Denver, Colorado. There, I was introduced to what the project was and how to teach it. It was here that I conducted my first project—“BYOB: Bring Your Own Bag.” The project was on the effects of plastic bags in our environment. Through this experience, I was probably one of the first people in Appleton, Wisconsin, to use reusable bags for groceries. Grocery store clerks thought I was crazy. This was just the beginning of my ventures with Project Citizen. Read the rest of this entry »
Dec 21, 2015 / Project Citizen
The Wisconsin Humanities Council has approved funding to conduct a daylong Project Citizen workshop on Saturday, February 13, in Madison at the American Family Insurance Training Facility. There is no charge to participating teachers. Read the rest of this entry »
Nov 23, 2015 / Project Citizen, We the People
Wyoming teachers recently attended a two-day professional development seminar focused on the historical and constitutional issues surrounding the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. Wyoming History Day, We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution, and We the People: Project Citizen conducted seminar for teachers October 16–18, 2015, at the Heart Mountain Interpretive Learning Center at Heart Mountain, Wyoming. Read the rest of this entry »