|We the People|
in over 300 Minnesota classrooms are learning to be better citizens
through the “We the People: the Citizen and the Constitution” program,
|Supreme Court Justice G. Barry Anderson congratulated the students during the 2007 awards ceremony.|
The primary goal of this nationally acclaimed civic education
program is to promote civic competence and responsibility among the
nation's elementary and secondary students. We the People: the Citizen
and the Constitution is administered by the Center for Civic Education
through a network of state and congressional district coordinators. The
St. Paul based Learning Law and Democracy Foundation administers the
Since its inception in 1987 in celebration of the Bicentennial of
the U.S. Constitution, more than 28 million students and 90 thousand
educators across the country have participated in this innovative
course of study. It includes a free instructional component that
enhances students' understanding of the institutions of American
constitutional democracy and helps them discover the contemporary
relevance of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. The three levels
of We the People textbooks are designed for a wide range of student
abilities and may be used as a supplemental text or for a full semester
Using critical thinking exercises, problem-solving activities, and
cooperative learning techniques, students learn about the development
of our democratic system of government, learn how government functions,
and develop the skills and attitudes that are necessary for them to be
effective, responsible citizens.
As a culminating activity, students participate in a simulated
congressional hearing. In this exciting performance based assessment,
students "testify" before a panel of judges. They demonstrate their
knowledge and understanding of constitutional principles and evaluate,
take, and defend positions on relevant constitutional issues.
These simulated congressional hearings take place in classrooms
throughout Minnesota. Schools representing each of Minnesota’s
congressional districts are invited to compete in the annual Minnesota
We the People Showcase and Competition, held at
the Minnesota State Capitol in December. The top-scoring team
represents Minnesota at the National We the People Competition in
Washington DC each spring.
A program proven to work!
The Program Effectiveness Panel of the U.S. Department of
Education’s National Diffusion Network examined the reports of numerous
research studies on the We the People program. The panel validated the
results of those studies and confirmed the program’s powerful
educational effects on students’ civic knowledge and attitudes. This
formal validation recognizes the We the People program’s "contributions
to excellence in education."
What the Research Says
• A "great instructional success," is how the Educational Testing
Service characterizes the We the People program. Independent studies by
ETS have revealed that We the People students "significantly
outperformed comparison students on every topic of the tests taken."
• Students involved in the We the People program develop greater
commitment to democratic principles and values, according to a study by
Richard Brody of Stanford University. The study concludes that the
program is effective in promoting political tolerance because
participating students feel more politically effective and perceive
fewer limits on their own political freedom.
• "[T]eachers feel excited and renewed.... Students are enthusiastic
about what they have been able to accomplish, especially in terms of
their ability to carry out a reasoned argument. They have become
energized about their place as citizens of the United States," say
researchers from the Council for Basic Education
• A 2001 survey of We the People alumni revealed that they are
better informed and participate at higher rates than their peers. The
data suggests that voting rates are significantly higher among alumni
than nonparticipating peers surveyed in the 2000 American National
Election Study (NES). Eighty-two percent of We the People alumni voted
in November 2000, in contrast to 48 percent turnout by peers.