We the People:

The Citizen and the Constitution 

The nationally acclaimed program about the history and philosophy of the civic education

regarding the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. 


The primary goal of We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution is to promote civic competence and responsibility among the nationís elementary and secondary students.  The design of the instructional program, including its innovative culminating activity, makes the program successful with both teachers and students. 

The instructional program enhances studentsí understanding of the institutions of American constitutional democracy. At the same time, students discover the contemporary relevance of the Constitution and Bill of Rights.   

The culminating activity is a simulated congressional hearing in which students ďtestifyĒ 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. 

Since the inception of the We the People program in 1987, textbooks have been used in Washington State by thousands of educators.  The program enjoys the active participation of members of Congress, as well as support from hundreds of educational, professional, business, and community organizations across the nation.  


The foundation of the We the People program is the classroom curriculum.  This program 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 constitutional democracy in the United States.  The We the People textbooks are designed for a wide range of student abilities and may be used as a supplemental text or for a full semester of study.   

Critical thinking exercises, problem-solving activities, and cooperative learning techniques help develop intellectual and participatory skills while increasing studentsí understanding of the institutions of American constitutional democracy. The We the People curriculum fosters attitudes that are necessary for students to participate as effective, responsible citizens. After studying the textbook, students take a multiple-choice test and prepare for the simulated congressional hearing. Upon completion of the course, they receive a certificate of achievement signed by their member of Congress or other prominent official. 


We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution is available at upper elementary, middle, and high school levels. Teacherís editions for each level contain lesson plans and suggested activities to enrich classroom instruction.  

Classroom sets include 30 student books and a teacherís edition.  Instructional information and supplies necessary to complete the program are included with the teacherís edition. Free classroom sets are available on a limited basis in each congressional district in the nation. Additional sets may be purchased from the Center at a nominal cost.

Culminating Activity: Performance Assessment in Action  

Teachers are encouraged to hold a simulated congressional hearing with their students as the culminating activity for the We the People program. The entire class, working in cooperative teams, prepares and presents statements on constitutional questions before a panel of community representatives who act as congressional committee members. Students then answer questions posed by the committee members. The format provides students an opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of constitutional principles while providing teachers with an excellent means of assessing performance.  

Teachers may engage their students in the simulated hearing activity at the following levels:  

More than 1200 high school students and their teachers participate annually in the We the People national finals. While in Washington, students have an opportunity to explore historic sites, visit museums, and meet with members of Congress and other prominent officials.  

Program Evaluation  

The Center for Civic Education participates in research to validate the effectiveness of the programs. The Program Effectiveness Panel of the U.S. Department of Educationís National Diffusion Network examined the reports of numerous research studies on the We the People program. The panel validated the results of those studies and confirmed the programís powerful educational effects on studentsí civic knowledge and attitudes. This formal validation recognizes the We the People programís "contributions to excellence in education." 

What the Research Says

Further research can be found on the Center for Civic Educationís website.

How To Get Involved  

Civic Education Washington State, in cooperation with The Center for Civic Education, administers the We the People program nationally through a network of coordinators in 50 states, 435 congressional districts, 4 trust territories, and the District of Columbia. These coordinators work with their members of Congress, business and community leaders, and local educators to contribute to the success of the program.    

Teachers and Educators may: 

Government Officials may:

Community, Business, and Professional Associations may: 

For more information on participating in the We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution program, contact Kathy Hand and/or your congressional district volunteer.