WE THE PEOPLE
California We The People is a program designed for High School students across the Golden State which strives to promote an enlightened and responsible citizenry committed to democratic principles and active engagement in the practice of democracy in the United States. We the People does this by increasing understanding of the principles, values, institutions, and history of constitutional democracy among teachers, students, and the general public.
Students in the program study six units that cover founding philosophical principles, the creation of the Constitution, how the document has changed over time, Congress, the Bill of Rights and what it means to be a participatory citizen. The class is divided into these six units and students prepare topic specific testimonies that answer constitutional questions.
The simulated congressional hearings focus on the United States Constitution and its application. Students are expected to have extensive knowledge of the Constitution and be able to discuss its relevance, citing court cases and historical facts to support their assertions. Each unit is interviewed by a panel of judges, all of whom have some expertise in the Constitution and its connection to current issues. Students are challenged to think critically while under pressure to deliver a thoughtful answer in an alloted amount of time. The follow up questions are impromptu and ask students to delve into areas often not explored at the undergraduate level, let alone high school seniors. Many schools demonstrate their knowledge outside of class by competing at district and regional levels which culminate in a state competition at the Capitol in Sacramento.
Through We The People, students develop an appreciation and love for engaging in our democracy and become stellar citizens. Many students who participate in the We The People program turn out to be exceptional adults with impressive careers, contributing to the betterment of our communities. Maintaining programs such as We The People is a crucial step in preserving our democracy and instilling the importance of civic duty in young people.