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.    

The program exists in all 50 states, and the U.S. territories. These state programs impact thousands of teachers and students each year. Since 2003, The Robert H. Smith Center for the Constitution at James Madison's Montpelier has been proud to host the We the People program in Virginia and Washington, D.C. 


We the People Simulated Congressional Hearings

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.

To find out more about We the People competitions in Virginia and Washington, D.C., click here: Hearings


Benefits of We the People

  • ™™We the People students are more likely to agree that keeping up with political affairs, influencing the political structure, developing a meaningful philosophy of life, becoming a community leader, and helping others in need are of strong importance. 
  • ™We the People students are more likely to vote, write to a public official, investigate compelling political issues, participate in lawful demonstrations, and boycott certain products or stores. 
  • The We the People program encourages students to become more than passive consumers in the current political landscape. The textbook content and the interactive nature of the program allow students the opportunity to develop the skills necessary to become informed an engaged citizens. ™

Summer Institute for Teachers

The 4-day We the People Summer Institute provides participating educators with the intellectual foundation and pedagogical preparation to be effective teachers of civics and government. Participants include upper elementary, middle, and high school teachers who work with experienced teacher mentors in a combination of lectures, breakout sessions, and classroom simulations to learn about the historical events and philosophical contexts preceding and affecting the writing of the U.S. Constitution and its relation to essential democratic principles. Teachers prepare for and participate in a simulated congressional hearing, giving them the skills and experience needed to conduct similar hearings in their classrooms.

The 2016 We the People Summer Institute will take place June 27-June 30, 2016 at James Madison's Montpelier.


We the People News

Virginia was well represented at the 28th Annual We the People National Finals, held on April 24-27, 2015. Maggie Walker Governor's School and Douglas S. Freeman High School, both of Richmond, joined 54 other teams from across the country. Maggie Walker Governor's School took 2nd place, and Douglas S. Freeman HS won 3rd! Additionally, Maggie Walker students won a special award designated the "Magna Carta Award" in honor of the 800th year of The Great Charter. Congratulations to the students and teachers for all of their incredibly hard work throughout the 2014-2015 school year! James Madison would be proud!

For More Information:

Contact Emily Voss, the Virginia and Washington D.C. We the People Coordinator at evoss@montpelier.org or call 540-308-2063. 


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