Center for Civic Education

Social Education, September 2002 | Go to article overview

Center for Civic Education


The Center for Civic Education is an independent nonprofit organization based in California with offices in Los Angeles, Sacramento, and Washington, D.C. The Center's domestic programs are implemented in every state, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the United States Virgin Islands. The Center's international programs involve partnerships with more than 40 other nations.

The Mission of the Center is to promote an enlightened and responsible citizenry committed to democratic principles and actively engaged in the practice of democracy in the United States and other countries. To that end, the Center administers a wide range of curricular, teacher-training, and community-based programs.

The Principal Goals of the Center's programs are to help students develop

* an increased understanding of the institutions of constitutional democracy and the fundamental principles and values upon which they are founded.

* the skills necessary to participate as effective and responsible citizens.

* the willingness to use democratic procedures for making decisions and managing conflict.

Ultimately, the Center strives to develop an enlightened citizenry by working to increase teachers' and students' understanding of the principles, values, institutions, and history of constitutional democracy.

The Center has its roots in the interdisciplinary Committee on Civic Education formed in 1964 at the University of California, Los Angeles. The committee was established to develop more effective curricular programs in elementary and secondary civic education. In 1969 the Center became affiliated with the State Bar of California and in 1981 it was established as an independent nonprofit organization.

Research and Evaluation

The Center conducts research and evaluation programs designed to determine the impact of its curricular programs on students' knowledge, skills, attitudes, and commitments to democratic values and principles, both in the United States and other nations. Research by the Center and by independent agencies has validated the efficacy of the Center's programs in fostering the development of civic competence and responsible civic participation among students.

We the People

THE CITIZEN AND THE CONSTITUTION

We the People ... The Citizen and the Constitution is a nationally acclaimed civic education program focusing on the history and principles of the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights for upper elementary, middle, and high school students. The program is administered with the assistance of a national network of coordinators in every state and congressional district in the nation.

The We the People ... curriculum not only enhances students' understanding of the institutions of American constitutional democracy, it also helps them identify the contemporary relevance of the Constitution and Bill of Rights. The culminating activity of the program is a simulated congressional hearing in which students demonstrate their knowledge and skills as they evaluate, take, and defend positions on historical and contemporary constitutional issues. At the high school level, classes have the opportunity to take part in a national competition at local, state, and national levels.

The results of independent studies reveal that We the People ... students have knowledge gains that are superior to comparison students. Students also display significantly greater political tolerance and commitment to the principles and values of the Constitution and Bill of Rights than do students using traditional textbooks and approaches.

The Center has established a National Academy and regional network of summer institutes to explore the content and methodology of the We the People ... The Citizen and the Constitution program for upper elementary, middle, and high school teachers. …

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