Center in the News
  • We the People Group Competes in Washington |
    Sheridan High School’s We the People team has won the Wyoming’s state championship for their knowledge of the U.S. Constitution and the federal government and are now headed to Washington D.C. Monday night in the Inner Circle of the library a public dress rehearsal was held, giving the students some more practice and instructor Tyson Emborg says the dress rehearsal serves as an informative opportunity for the community. Cheyenne Buyert is a junior and part of the 20 member team representing Wyoming in the competition. She says she is excited to be headed to Washington. Emborg says it’s rewarding to see the students experience history first-hand. The team heads to Washington D.C. next week.

  • Congressional Record recognition of Andrew Trenkle and We the People team from Maine South High School
    HON. JANICE D. SCHAKOWSKY OF ILLINOIS IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES; Monday, April 13, 2015 Ms. SCHAKOWSKY. Mr. Speaker, today I rise to congratulate Coach Trenkle and the Maine South High School Constitution Team for their achievement in winning the Illinois State Title of the ‘‘We the People: the Citizen and the Constitution’’ competition. The ‘‘We the People: the Citizen and the Constitution’’ program, sponsored by the Center for Civic Education, promotes civic competence and responsibility through course study and mock Congressional hearings. To succeed in this competition, students must demonstrate a deep understanding of Constitutional principles as well as an ability to apply critical thinking skills and to work together. The Maine South team rose to that challenge and I am sure they will apply those same skills to achieve success in the future.

  • U.S. History should be part of MCAS test: Guest viewpoint |
    Regarding history teaching in Massachusetts, it's said what isn't tested isn't taught. Since the decision to postpone instituting passage of the U.S. history test as a high school graduation requirement, entire middle school social studies departments have been eliminated and history courses are being taught by English, math, and science teachers. On the civics portion of the 2010 NAEP test, only 7% of 8th graders could correctly identify the three branches of government and over 2/3 of America's students scored below "proficient." Unlike in English, math, and science, when it comes to U.S. history and civics, Massachusetts students are not the exception, but the rule. For example, in more than 25 years of the national "We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution" contest, our students have never finished among the top 10 states. In civics, Bay State students are routinely outperformed by their counterparts from California, Oregon, Indiana, Virginia, and Alabama.

  • ‘We the People’ -
    For a dozen Westfield Academy and Central School students who traveled to Albany recently, those students have a better understanding of the what it means to be an American citizen. The students, under the supervision of teacher Greg Birner participated in a semester-long class for We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution. Students traveled to Albany to compete against other schools from across the region. Birner explained WACS was the "only school this side of Syracuse" to compete. "(The class) is the most in depth government study program you can find," Birner said adding many students opt to not take the course due to the workload. Birner, along with three students, attended Monday's Westfield Board of Education meeting to discuss their experience. Superintendent David Davison was impressed by the student's answers and presentation. Student John Work said he now sees how current events affect society and admitted he never paid attention to them prior to the class.

  • Project Citizen helps 8th graders learn to influence lawmakers, policy | KTVA Anchorage CBS 11
    Students at Gruening Middle School are learning how to influence lawmakers and policy decisions through a civics program called Project Citizen. “I think Project Citizen is important because it gets kids more involved instead of sitting there and just talking,” said eighth-grade student Michael Listman, who says he likes the idea of working towards a particular goal. “Because, for my experience, sitting there talking, I don’t ever really pay attention; I don’t really get anything from it.” The class debated which problem or issue in society it should focus on, anything from tougher laws to stopp cyberbullying, or new policies to help prevent teen suicide. In the end, they chose to advocate for Project Citizen. It’s not available to all 8th grade students in the Anchorage, but this group thinks it should be a requirement. “I think all eighth graders should have this experience because they really get into this and really have a lot of fun and get more active in the community."

  • Teachers, not test, help students understand government
    Certainly, anyone can find students without a clue despite a teacher’s best efforts. However, there are plenty of examples that go in the other direction. For example, ninth graders at Mount Pleasant High School outside of Wilmington recently proved to a variety of judges from government, business, education and the media that they know what is going on. Under teacher Scott Bacon’s direction (and using the Project Citizen program of the Center for Civic Education), the students examined a variety of local civic problems and developed solutions. The problems ranged from water quality to teaching non-swimmers how to swim to dealing with post-traumatic syndrome disorder among students who witness violence in their homes or in their neighborhoods. The heart of the assignment was to bring the problem through the democratic system, ranging from petitions to lobbying. Their work was impressive.

  • Are students ready for our democracy?
    The Democracy Project’s civics education summer institute at the University of Delaware has included almost 300 Delaware teachers in 16 years, including Scott Bacon, the innovative teacher at Mount Pleasant High School referenced in the editorial, and Jill Szymanski from the Brandywine Springs School who earned national history teacher of the year honors. Our teachers then work collaboratively with colleagues to craft engaging lessons to take back to their classrooms. The Democracy Project also guides teachers through programs such as Project Citizen, the one used by Scott Bacon to engage his students at Mount Pleasant. We offer similar guidance to preservice teachers through our undergraduate courses at the University. Each summer the Democracy Project affords teachers opportunities to interact with our state’s government leaders in all branches and levels, and with others such as jurists, lobbyists and journalists who play critical roles in shaping and implementing public policy.

  • Sizing Up Civics Education / A Look At N.H.'s Voting Bills | New Hampshire Public Radio
    We the People teacher David Alcox is one of the teachers interviewed regarding students proposing legislation in New Hampshire. He describes the powerful effects of high quality civic education, including not only We the People but also Project Citizen. The interview with the two teachers starts at 11:30 of the 37-minute podcast.

  • KVOA | Tucson, Arizona - Middle school government and civics team winning national attention
    This KVOA video (which airs after a commercial advertisement) shows Challenger Middle School's national prominence in the We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution program. Among the remarks from Challenger students is Diego Polanco's comment that,"this program changed my life. It's made me a better speaker and a better writer." Teacher Norma Higuera says of the program that it teaches the students social responsibility."It's transformational."

  • Central students get chance at national "We the People" contest |
    Students of civics and government at Cheyenne's Central High have been given a second chance to show their knowledge on a national stage. The school's We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution team was offered a wildcard spot at the upcoming national competition, said state coordinator Matt Strannigan. "We've had more than one team that was national finals-worthy before, and that's true this year, and we're excited," he said. "It's a great opportunity." That means Wyoming will have two teams representing the state at the national competition at George Mason University, near Washington, DC. The "We the People" team from Sheridan High won the state competition, which earned it a spot at the national competition. Central's team took second place in that competition. Adviser Nate Breen said of the Central students' excited reaction, "They were ecstatic. They were jumping all over the place." Being selected has meant a lot more work for the team but they will be ready.