We the People

We the People Program

This nationally acclaimed civic education instructional program enhances students' understanding of the institutions of American constitutional democracy while allowing students to discover the contemporary relevance of the 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 nation's elementary and secondary students. The design of the instructional program, including the innovative culminating activity, is what makes the program a success.

The culminating activity is a simulated congressional hearing in which students "testify" before a panel of judges. At the high school level, schools may participate in a State competition, held in December, where they perform units before a panel of notable governmental and political leaders. The top performing high school team is eligible to attend the national competition in Washington, D.C.

Created in 1987 in celebration of the Bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution, over 28 million students across the country have participated in this innovative and acclaimed program.

We the People Program Components
Students engage in rigorous study of the U.S. Constitution, participating in interactive lessons and studying current issues. They build skills and knowledge consistent with State Social Studies recommendations.

Units of study include:

  • Philosophical foundations of the American political system
  • Framers’ creation of the Constitution
  • How the Constitution has changed
  • Roles of the three branches of government
  • Constitutional rights
  • 21st century challenges

We the People - Elementary
The third edition of We the People: The Citizen & the Constitution for upper elementary students explores the history and principles of constitutional democracy in the United States. The text features a new section on the electoral college, updated material on when it is fair and reasonable to limit free speech, and new and updated four-color graphics. The teacher's edition includes culminating performance assessment materials and a bibliography of children's literature.

We the People - Middle School
We the People: The Citizen & the Constitution for middle grades is composed of 6 units and 29 lessons that use critical-thinking exercises, cooperative-learning practices and a culminating authentic performance assessment to teach the history and principles of constitutional democracy.

We the People - High School
The We the People: The Citizen & the Constitution high school textbook consists of six units with 39 lessons addressing principles of constitutional democracy and a culminating authentic performance assessment. Each set includes 30 student books and a teacher's edition that provides materials to enrich classroom learning.

James Madison Legacy Project
In addition, the national center created a three-year nationwide initiative to provide materials for social studies and government teachers. Called the James Madison Legacy Project, the initiative allows teachers to access online professional learning communities and to use discussion forums to exchange ideas and experiences. The project also features videos of scholars providing in-depth explanations of the ideas contained in each unit of the “We the People: The Citizen & the Constitution” curriculum. These videos are accompanied by interactive online exercises and forums.