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We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution

The Vermont Bar Association is the state coordinator for We the People...The Citizen and the Constitution, a nationally recognized civics curriculum offered at the upper elementary, middle school, and high school levels. We the People was developed by the Center for Civic Education and funded through a grant from Congress. Considerable research suggests that the program is highly successful. Curricular materials are supplied to teachers at no charge once they have been trained in their use. The Center for Public Education offers numerous, cost-free training programs in the We the People materials over the course of the year. Nearly 100 schools, at all levels all across the state, use the We the People curriculum in their classrooms. The program also includes a statewide competition at the State House held each January. The culminating activity is a simulated congressional hearing in which students "testify" before a panel of judges. Students demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of constitutional principles and have opportunities to evaluate, take, and defend positions on relevant historical and contemporary issues. The primary goal of We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution is to promote civic competence and responsibility among the nation’s elementary and secondary students. What makes the program so successful is the design of its instructional program, including its innovative culminating activity. The Center provides free professional-development opportunities for elementary, middle, high school educators, university and college professors, members of the legal community, We the People Programs state and congressional district coordinators, and youth organization leaders throughout the nation and in selected sites throughout the world. Since the inception of the We the People program in 1987, more than 28 million students and 90 thousand educators have participated in this innovative course of study. Several studies by the Educational Testing Service (ETS) and Professor Richard Brody, Stanford University, indicate that students who used the curriculum "significantly outperformed comparison students" on every topic studied. A recent study, conducted by the independent firm RMC Research Corporation, found that students using the curriculum scored significantly higher on a comprehensive test of political knowledge when compared to their peers in comparison classes as well as university students attending political science courses. The program enjoys the active participation of members of Congress, as well as support from professional, business, and community organizations across the nation. Program participants can maintain contact with the Center and with one another through the We the People Alumni Network.