We the People The Citizen and the Constitution
“We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution” is an educational program developed by the Center for Civic Education, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization based in California. The program instructs students on the history and principles of American constitutional democracy. The primary goal of the program is to promote civic competence and responsibility among the nation’s elementary, middle, and secondary school students. The We the People program allows students to study the Constitution and the Bill of Rights in depth. What makes the program successful is the design of the instructional program, and its innovative culminating activity—the simulated Congressional hearing.
Simulated congressional hearings serve as the final assessment of the We the People program and provide an excellent opportunity for students to improve their public speaking—as well as their research and analytical skills—through demonstration and practical application of the knowledge learned through the curriculum.
Simulated congressional hearings also take on a competitive element. For classes at the middle and high school level, participants from each school can advance to regional and state level competitions. The high school champion class from each state is then invited to National Finals in Washington, D.C.
About the Curriculum
We the People: the Citizen and the Constitution textbooks and ebooks are available in Levels 1, 2, and 3, from the Center for Civic Education. We the People textbooks provide upper elementary, middle, and high school students with a course of instruction on the history and principles of our constitutional, representative democracy. Critical thinking exercises, problem-solving activities, and cooperative-learning opportunities help develop students’ intellectual and participatory skills and fosters attitudes needed to participate as effective, responsible citizens.
Each textbook is broken down into six curricular units, organized around essentials questions. Students who take part in organized competitions will be assigned to a particular unit along the following topics:
Level 2: What were the Founders’ basic ideas about government?
Level 3: What are the philosophical and historical foundations of the American political system?
Level 2: What shaped the Founder’s thinking about government? Level 3: How did the Framers create the Constitution?
Level 2: What happened at the Philadelphia Convention?
Level 3: How has the Constitution been changed to further the ideals contained in the Declaration of Independence?
Level 2: How was the Constitution used to establish our government?
Level 3: How have the values and principles embodied in the Constitution shaped American institutions and practices?
Level 2: How does the Constitution protect our basic rights?
Level 3: What rights does the Bill of Rights protect?
Level 2 What are the responsibilities of citizens?
Level 3: What challenges might face constitutional democracy in the 21st century?
We the People Competitions
We the People competitions in Virginia are for middle and high school We the People teams. Schools are encouraged to hold in-school competitions as practice for regional/qualifier and state competitions. Participation in a qualifying competition is required for high schools to compete at the state level. Schools may elect to compete in one of four qualifying competitions, held in December. The top 9 scoring high schools in the qualifiers and any participating middle schools are invited to compete in the state competition. The winning high school class represents Virginia at the We the People National Finals in April.
2023–24 Competition Dates
We the People High School Central VA Qualifier
Saturday, December 2, 2023
Randolph-Macon College, Ashland, VA
We the People High School Northern VA Qualifier
Saturday, December 9, 2023
Unity Reed High School, Manassas, VA
We the People Virginia Middle & High School State Finals
Saturday, January 27, 2024
Randolph-Macon College, Ashland, VA
A number of outstanding organizations have put together We the People resources linked below.