We the People

We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution Implementation

The Justice Teaching Center implements the We the People program in Florida. We are available to assist with training and provide information and registration for the middle and high school academic competitions. The program is administered nationally by the Center for Civic Education. We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution, was developed in 1987 and adopted by the Commission on the Bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution, chaired by Chief Justice Warren E. Burger, as the principal education program of the federal Constitution’s bicentennial. The success of the program at the Bicentennial Commission led to Congress continuing the program through the U.S. Department of Education from 1993 to 2011 as an authorized program of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

The program consists of a curriculum and a mock congressional hearing component. The mock congressional hearing is a simulation for the classroom and schools can also participate at the middle and high school levels in an academic competition. For additional details, contact justiceteaching@flsouthern.edu.

Curriculum

The foundation of the We the People program is the classroom curriculum. It complements the regular school curriculum by providing upper elementary, middle, and high school students with an innovative course of instruction on the history and principles of the U.S. Constitution.

The high school text covers these six units:

  • Unit One: What Are the Philosophical and Historical Foundations of the American Political System?
  • Unit Two: How Did the Framers Create the Constitution?
  • Unit Three: How Has the Constitution Been Changed to Further the Ideals Contained in the Declaration of Independence?
  • Unit Four: How Have the Values and Principles Embodied in the Constitution Shaped American Institutions and Practices?
  • Unit Five: What Rights Does the Bill of Rights Protect?
  • Unit Six: What Challenges Might Face Americans in the Twenty-first Century?

Simulated Hearings

The We the People program’s culminating activity is a simulated congressional hearing in which students “testify” before a panel of judges acting as members of Congress. Students demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of constitutional principles and have opportunities to evaluate, take, and defend positions on relevant historical and contemporary issues. Teachers may engage their students in a noncompetitive simulated congressional hearing or a competitive hearing at the middle and high school levels in Florida. A national competition follows.

State and National Simulated Hearings

Each year the We the People national academic competition for high schools is held in Washington, D.C., in the spring culminating with a top-ten final round in hearing rooms on Capitol Hill. In addition, a National Invitational event is held in Washington, D.C., allowing middle schools to have the same rich academic experience of presenting prepared statements on constitutional topics and responding to questions from adult judges. The student simulated hearing not only deepens student knowledge of the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights, it builds important 21st-century workplace skills and dispositions, such as working cooperatively as a team, public speaking, managing conflict, and reaching consensus.

A state competition is held annually in Florida. Check our Justice Teaching Center for Civic Learning at Florida Southern College Facebook page for dates and details.

State and National Simulated Hearings

Each year the We the People national academic competition for high schools is held in Washington, D.C., in the spring culminating with a top-ten final round in hearing rooms on Capitol Hill. In addition, a National Invitational event is held in Washington, D.C., allowing middle schools to have the same rich academic experience of presenting prepared statements on constitutional topics and responding to questions from adult judges. The student simulated hearing not only deepens student knowledge of the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights, it builds important 21st-century workplace skills and dispositions, such as working cooperatively as a team, public speaking, managing conflict, and reaching consensus.

A state competition is held annually in Florida. Check our Justice Teaching Center for Civic Learning at Florida Southern College Facebook page for dates and details.

What the Research Says

A research team from Georgetown University has conducted independent studies of We the People that have been confirmed by the U.S. Department of Education’s What Works Clearinghouse, which includes the highest standards for research scholarship. The team found that We the People students scored significantly higher on tests of both civic knowledge and civic dispositions than their peers.

These dispositions include:

  1. Respect for the rule of law
  2. Political attentiveness
  3. Civic duty
  4. Community involvement
  5. Commitment to government service
  6. The norms of political efficacy and political tolerance

Additional information and studies can be found at www.civiced.org/research.

Share Your Student Success Stories

Let us know how the We the People program has impacted your students' lives. Beyond the research, we know that We the People students vote and participate actively in their communities. They actively discuss current events and can see issues through a constitutional lens. In Florida, as in other states, we have legislators, attorneys, teachers, and all kinds of professionals that have participated in this program when they were in high school.

High School Resource Center

CivicEd Resource Center

Scoring Rubrics and Score Sheets

 

Rules for the Middle and High School Competitions

For specific rules governing the middle and high school academic competitions, see links below.

 

2019-2020 Middle and High School Mock Congressional Hearing Questions

The hearing questions for the state competition are available. Please contact justiceteaching@flsouthern.edu for copies.

Dates

The 2019-2020 Mock Congressional Competition Hearing Dates have been scheduled. Contact justiceteaching@flsouthern.edu for details.

Registration

Register to participate in the 2020 competition.

Register