Apr 24, 2019 / Announcements
The Center for Civic Education’s programs have been greatly assisted by the active involvement of judges and justices since its inception. Many judges have given countless hours and days of their personal time over the decades to help the Center to promote high quality education for democracy, and have made significant financial donations that serve our programs. Read the rest of this entry »
Apr 21, 2019 / E-news
As part of its Expository Writing and Reading Curriculum (ERWC), California State University is publishing a module called “Remembering Injustice” using materials from the Center for Civic Education from the Center’s 9/11 and the Constitution lesson.
The ERWC offers high school English students and teacher tools to use “rhetorical inquiry to encourage critical thinking,” and “students learn strategies that help them thrive in college.” The “Remembering Injustice” module will work towards this goal, offering a college-preparatory course in English Language Arts for teachers and students in grade nine.
It is free to participating high schools, who build and personalize a year-long course for their students by choosing from a selection of approximately 81 modules. The Remembering Injustice module will be available until 2020.
The module highlights a resource that is freely available on the Center for Civic Education website that defines and explains important terms to know that are related to the Declaration of Independence and the Preamble to the Constitution. Explore the Center’s Resources page to find more tools and free lessons!
Apr 21, 2019 / E-news, We the People
We the People students from all over the country will soon converge in Washington, D.C., to compete in simulated congressional hearings and explore the history of the nation’s capital.
High school teams will compete in the We the People National Finals from April 26 to April 29, and middle school teams will compete in the We the People National Invitational from May 3 to May 6. Both competitions will be held at the National Conference Center in Leesburg, Virginia, near the capital.
These competitions are annual culminations of the We the People program, in which students learn about American representative democracy, history, and founding documents. Classes study the six units of the We the People: The Citizen & the Constitution textbook before being organized into teams around each unit and its concept. Each unit of the book deals with one aspect of American constitutionalism.
Students preparing to testify at the 2018 We the People National Finals.
High school classes compete at the local and state levels before attending the national competitions. At both the middle and high school competitions, each team of students is asked challenging questions about constitutional issues and current events by a panel of expert judges made of accomplished scholars, attorneys, and public officials, among others.
When not participating in the competition, students will tour Washington, D.C.’s monuments and learn about its history.
At the National Finals, the guest speaker is John Tinker, of the landmark Supreme Court case Tinker v. Des Moines—a topic of study for We the People students. One school will be presented with a special Tinker Award for its response to Unit 5, Question 3. The award is sponsored by the John F. Tinker Foundation.
To keep track of this year’s competitions, follow the Center for Civic Education on social media, including Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Flickr! The awards ceremony and speeches will also be livestreamed on Facebook.
Apr 11, 2019 / E-news
The Federal Bar Association’s (FBA) National Community Outreach Project will work to reach out to young people and their communities for the fourth year in a row to instill confidence in the judicial system. Middle and high school students will visit courthouses, meet lawyers, observe court proceedings, and have conversations directly with federal judges.
More than twenty-five chapters and sections of the Federal Bar Association in multiple districts across the country have agreed to participate in 2019. The FBA has also designed every April as “National Community Outreach” month.
In the related press release, the FBA stated: “In these times when communities, especially youth, have lost confidence in our judicial system, the FBA’s National Community Outreach Project seeks to instill confidence in the judicial system in middle and high-school students and other communities.”
The Federal Bar Association serves communities in other ways, as well, with events like tours of the federal courts, viewings of federal court proceedings, tours of federal agencies, and by providing citizens with free legal advice.
For more information on the National Community Outreach Project, visit www.fedbar.org/NCOP.
Apr 10, 2019 / E-news
Moina Shaiq, a member of the Center for Civic Education Board of Directors, received a 2019 Women’s Hall of Fame Award from Alameda County, California. Nominated by Board president Pauline Weaver, Shaiq founded and runs the “Meet a Muslim” program, in which Shaiq discusses the importance of the hijab, the head scarf, and the niqab, or face covering, as well as the differences between Sunnis and Shias. Watch video.
Center for Civic Education Board president Pauline Weaver (left) and member Moina Shaiq (right). Shaiq received a 2019 Women's Hall of Fame Award from Alameda County, California.
The Alameda County Women’s Hall of Fame features women every year who make a difference in their communities in a variety of fields: community service, health, business, and more. They also make charitable donations to community-based organizations in Alameda County. Shaiq’s award was in the area of community service.
Shaiq also speaks about the rights of women in Islam and what it’s like to be an American Muslim today in her one-hour talks. Since the group’s first coffeehouse meeting in Fremont, California, Shaiq has spoken about being Muslim and answered questions at dozens of libraries, pizza parlors, and coffee shops in the San Francisco Bay Area.
She has expanded Meet a Muslim to churches, service clubs, and private homes and has traveled to many areas of the country with the program. Shaiq gives the talks once or twice a week to break down stereotypes.
Photo courtesy of Pauline Weaver. You can read more about the Alameda County Women’s Hall of Fame here.
Apr 09, 2019 / E-news
This spring, adult learners and novice teachers took part in Constitution 101, a six-week online course focusing on the fundamentals of the Constitution and the American system of government.
Led by Robert Leming, along with mentor teachers Chris Cavanaugh, Shayne Klein, Timothy Moore, and Thomas Vontz, the class covered important topics, such as the history of the Framers, challenges to constitutional democracy, and the ideals of the Declaration of Independence. All classes were conducted online through a live videoconference.
“Since government is a reflection of who we are as a people, it is necessary for citizens to understand the philosophical ideas that influence our form of government and how the Constitution both empowers and limits government. If we want better government, we need better citizens,” said Robert Leming, who is also the director of the Center for Civic Education’s We the People program.
Each week, class was held for two hours, with each week’s subject mirroring a unit of the We the People: The Citizen & The Constitution textbook. Just like in the We the People program, the class “encourages students to think about government through inquiry, using a scientific lens rather than a political ideology,” said Leming. After twelve hours of coursework, “students feel more empowered to participate in this grand experiment we call republican government.”
Robert Leming holds up the We the People textbook in a session of Constitution 101.
At this time, Constitution 101 is not available for graduate credit. However, Robert Leming and Thomas Vontz, two of the instructors for Constitution 101, both teach other online courses related to teaching the Constitution. These are available through Kansas State University and do offer graduate credit.
The archived lessons are available to anyone who wants to learn more about constitutional democracy, at this YouTube playlist.
Mar 13, 2019 / E-news
Over the past few months, the We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution state competitions have taken place throughout the nation. The Wyoming state competition took place on Monday, February 11. After an exciting day of simulated congressional hearings, Jackson High School (led by teacher Jim Rooks) won their first championship and Cheyenne Central High School (led by teacher Tom Bradley) finished in second place. These schools will advance to the National Finals to be held in Washington, D.C. from April 26 to April 29, with Cheyenne Central competing as a wildcard team.
The 2019 Wyoming We the People State Champions are Jackson High School.
The Wyoming We the People program, headed by Wyoming state coordinator Matt Strannigan, has conducted these competitions with the generous financial and in-kind support of the American Board of Trial Attorneys (ABOTA) in Wyoming, the Craig and Susan Foundation, Wyoming State Supreme Court Justices, the Wyoming State Legislature, and the Department of State Parks and Cultural Resources, and other contributors.
The John P. Ellbogen Foundation, a longtime supporter of the Wyoming We the People Program, gave John Corbin of Cody High School the John P. Ellbogen Foundation Award for Teaching Excellence. The Director for Development at the University of Wyoming Foundation, Tyler Spear stated, “Ellbogen’s commitment to civic education and to the Wyoming We the People program has allowed the program to thrive. In total, the University of Wyoming is home to a one-million-dollar endowment supporting the program.”
It is in part thanks to these organizations and individuals that this program has positively impacted the educational pathways of many Wyoming students. The generous contributions, both financial and in-kind, of the Ellobogen Foundation mentioned above, as well as others in the state, are a testament of how a community can come together to support a quality education for the benefit of the next generation.
But most importantly, Wyoming We the People is defined by the teachers and students who put an enormous effort and countless hours into their work. Teachers who strive to give a quality civic education and their students who to continue to work towards becoming informed citizens and the leaders of tomorrow.
Mar 12, 2019 / E-news
This February, California held its thirty-second annual We the People State Finals in Sacramento this year, with guest speaker Xavier Becerra, California’s attorney general.
Becerra spoke about good government, the protection of constitutional rights, and participatory citizenship—topics that We the People students study extensively in preparation for competition. He also encouraged them to lead and serve in their communities, embodying the principles put forth by the Constitution that they have come to know and understand.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra (right) at the California We the People State finals in Sacramento in February 2019. Photo courtesy of Cheryl Cook-Kallio (second from right), who is the California We the People state coordinator. Also pictured is Ben Glickman (left) and Pauline Weaver (second from left).
California’s We the People state coordinator, Cheryl Cook-Kallio, noted that “California We the People was thrilled to welcome the Honorable Xavier Becerra, California Attorney General, to the thirty-second annual state finals. We want to thank him for his commitment to quality civic education.”
We the People competitions challenge students to participate in simulated congressional hearings, putting their knowledge into practice. After spending the school year studying the Constitution and the fundamental principles of American representative democracy, students answer questions about American government from knowledgeable community leaders and professionals, such as lawyers, professors, and historians, who serve as competition judges.
State champions Amador Valley High School will compete at the National Finals this year, led by their teacher Stacey Sklar. Second-place finishers Foothill High School, led by Jeremy Detamore and Graham McBride, will also compete as a wildcard team. For ongoing updates about the National Finals, follow our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram channels in time for April 26, 2019.
Mar 12, 2019 / E-news
John F. Tinker will speak during the awards ceremony at the We the People National Finals on April 29.
In 1969, Tinker and his sister were two of four students suspended from their school in Iowa for wearing black armbands to protest the Vietnam War. These students and their families were petitioners in the landmark Supreme Court case Tinker v. Des Moines that resulted in a ruling that students do not “shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.”
John F. Tinker was a petitioner in the landmark Supreme Court case Tinker v. Des Moines.
This important precedent, the “Tinker Standard,” is now fifty years old and discourages school administration from punishing students for expressions which are not “materially and substantially” disruptive to the educational environment. Its significance is one of the reasons that We the People students study the case of Tinker v. Des Moines. Unit 5 groups this year will also answer the question:
“It has been fifty years since the landmark case of Tinker v. Des Moines. Since Tinker, have the rights of students in public schools been expanded or limited?”
To recognize its fifty-year anniversary, one school will be presented with a special Tinker Award based on its response to this question (Unit 5, Question 3). The award is sponsored by the John F. Tinker Foundation, whose mission is to help to educate students, teachers and school administrators regarding the First Amendment rights of students, and to encourage the discussion of controversial issues across political boundaries.
Don’t forget to tune into Tinker’s speech, which will be broadcast live via the Center’s Facebook page.
Jan 17, 2019 / E-news, We the People
In states across the country, students are competing for a chance to show off their constitutional knowledge in Washington, D.C., this April at the 32nd Annual We the People National Finals!
The We the People state finals challenge students to participate in simulated congressional hearings, putting their knowledge into practice. After spending the school year studying the Constitution and the fundamental principles of American representative democracy, students answer questions about American government from knowledgeable community leaders and professionals, such as lawyers, professors, and historians, who serve as competition judges.
The North Dakota State Finals took place in January. Century High School in Bismarck was the first-place winner.
In anticipation of this year’s state finals, participants study and practice with state hearing questions that address questions that include the following concepts:
- Equal vs. proportional representation in Congress
- Due process of law
- The role of political parties
- How contemporary issues are linked with history
Winners of the We the People state finals have the opportunity to attend the National Finals in Washington, D.C., from April 26-29. Teams can start preparing with the National Finals hearing questions when they are posted on January 31.
Are you interested in keeping up with the results of this year’s competitive state finals? The competition dates and results are available here, and more information about individual competitions can be found by contacting the appropriate state coordinator.