We the People!

Since 1987, The We the People: Citizen & the Constitution Program has brought civic responsibility directly into the minds of students. By simulating a congressional hearing with students in the role of expert witnesses, the program enables students to explore constitutional concepts and apply them to their life and the world around them.

The DC State Board of Education was pleased to host this year’s middle and high school District-wide competitions at One Judiciary Square. The location enabled students to present the information they had researched and prepared in sight of the U.S. Capitol Building and other major federal landmarks.

This year, the middle school competition was particularly close. Students from Alice Deal MS, Chavez Prep MS, DC Prep, Hardy MS, and Kelly Miller MS gave presentations to six panels of volunteer judges. Each team was given a question to examine and four minutes to present the information they found, followed by six minutes of questions from the judges. Teams were then scored in six areas: understanding, constitutional application, reasoning, supporting evidence, responsiveness, and participation.

The enthusiasm from the students enlivened the judges who were animated when discussing each middle school team prior to awards being given. Seeing the students grasp challenging constitutional concepts like checks and balances, judicial review, and legislative consent and make connections with situations as diverse as the Mexican-American War and the current crisis in Mali was fantastic.

The State Board is responsible for ensuring that education standards specify:

  • what students are expected to know and be able to do,
  • contain coherent and rigorous content,
  • encourage the teaching of advanced skills, and
  • are updated on a regular basis.

In the coming months, the State Board will consider a review of current social studies standards. More information about the process will be available on our website (sboe.dc.gov).

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