January 2021 Newsletter

News from the Center for Civic Education

A Message from Christopher R. Riano on This Important Moment in Our History, Six New Strengthening Democracy in America Online Courses Added, and More in This Month's Newsletter.

Our Civic Security: A Message from Center President Christopher R. Riano

Happy Holidays

I want to open by wishing everyone in the network a happy Inauguration Day, one of the most important days that we celebrate as Americans. Unlike any other time in living memory, we are bearing witness to unprecedented challenges to our democratic system. Many of them strike at the very heart of what we all deeply believe, and all of them reinforce our belief in the importance of our collective work. I've been very fortunate to speak to so many members of our network these past weeks. What continues to impress me is the resilience shown by each and every person who, without exception, has rededicated themselves to ensuring that our core mission moves forward. Our American democracy is built on incredible strengths, but also comprises a number of historical and contemporary weaknesses.

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WTP State Competitions

Announcing Six New the Strengthening Democracy in America Free Online Courses

The Center has added six new online courses to its Strengthening Democracy in America series. The courses feature interviews with Diana Owen of Georgetown University on the American political party and electoral systems; Paul Light of New York University on the federal bureaucracy; Regina Lawrence of the University of Oregon (pictured) on the role of the media in the political process; Stephen Farnsworth of the University of Mary Washington on American political culture; George Shambaugh of Georgetown University on the American economic system; and Francene Engel of the University of Maryland on our federal system. Each free, self-paced online course features a discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of a key topic of contemporary American constitutionalism and suggestions for improving these strengths while diminishing the weaknesses.

Register for free

Alumni network

We the State Competitions Fill National Finals Roster

Undeterred by the challenges of competing during the COVID-19 pandemic, We the People students have been participating in state finals events nationwide, displaying their knowledge of the Constitution in simulated congressional hearings. In Alaska, West Valley High School, led by teacher Amy Gallaway, placed first in the state competition. Teacher Nancie Lindblom and coach Sasha Litzenberger led their class from Mountain View High School (pictured) to a first-place victory in the Arizona state finals. In Michigan, Adam Horos's class from East Grand Rapids High School won the state championship, with Justin Robbins's class from East Kentwood High School securing a National Finals wildcard slot. Trevor Duval's class from Hollis Brookline High School won the New Hampshire state title. Century High School, led by teacher Shannon Sorenson, placed first in the North Dakota state competition. Clay County High School, led by teacher Philip Dobbins, won the West Virginia state title, with Robert C. Byrd High School and teacher Greg Phillips securing a wildcard berth. Maine South High School, led by Andrew Trenkle and Kevin Hansen, clinched the Illinois state title, with Chicago Hope Academy and teacher Brendan Oosse competing in the National Finals as the Warren E. Burger Class. To view the complete list of National Finals competitors so far, visit the National Finals website. Check out the We the People website for a list of upcoming state finals competitions.

Quick Quiz! What happened shortly before Abraham Lincoln's first inauguration in 1861?

A. The Civil War began with the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter, South Carolina.
B. Seven slave states seceded to form the Confederate States of America.
C. Congress moved the capital to Philadelphia to better protect the national government.
D. Lincoln delivered his famous Gettysburg Address.

Read on to learn the answer!

WTP Alumni

Join the We the People Alumni Network

Pepperdine University professor Jooho Lee is looking for We the People alumni who want to advance the cause of civic education. Lee leads the We the People National Alumni Leadership Council, which is organizing the effort to put the particular talents of We the People alumni to good use. If you would like to join the We the People Alumni Network and volunteer your time, please fill out this form.


Wyinubg we the People

Wyoming We the People Program Receives Gift to Enhance Students' Understanding of Democracy

The Wyoming We the People program is the beneficiary of a $300,000 gift from the John P. Ellbogen Foundation, which will increase the John P. Ellbogen Civics Education Fund to more than $1.5 million. "As citizens, we must know and understand our rights and vigilantly practice our responsibilities," said Mary Garland, president of the John P. Ellbogen Foundation. "Now, more than ever, it is imperative that our youth learn from the primary documents that set out the guidance for our democracy. This is the focus of Wyoming We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution. The foundation takes our investment in this program as part of its responsibility to state and country."

Learn more

Civic Education for Youth Empowerment

Civic Education for Youth Empowerment

"Civic Education for Youth Empowerment: The Impact of We the People and Project Citizen," by Dr. Diana Owen, Georgetown University, and Alissa Irion-Groth, Center for Civic Education, explores how Center programs foster civic empowerment and engagement in young people in the United States and other countries.

Project Citizen Students Honor Veterans

Project Citizen Students Honor Veterans

Yes, young people can make a difference in their communities! Read about John Dickson's eighth-grade Project Citizen students, who are honoring veterans who suffer from PTSD.

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Civic Education Essay Contest

Enter the 2021 Civics Education Essay Contest

Submit your entry by February 26 to the 2021 Civics Education Essay Contest, presented by the National Center for State Courts. Cash prizes are available in three divisions based on grade level. This year's question is "What does the rule of law mean to you?" The goal of the contest is to get students engaged and ponder the importance of civics at home and in the classroom.

Learn more

Quiz Answer!

B. Seven slave states seceded to form the Confederate States of America (see episode 4320)

For more quizzes and learning opportunities, check out the 60-Second Civics podcast and daily civics quiz!


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