Saturday, August 4, 2007

WtP: Unit 5 — What does the Bill of Rights protect?


Presented by David Tanenhaus, Ph.D. — University of Nevada, Las Vegas

_________________________________________________________________

Note: My notes for this section were less-than-adequate. I give my thanks to a private donor of notes for this cause.

"The First Amendment and how the courts have thought about it. Courts and citizens revisit these cases because they represent fundamental concepts of security and liberty. Interpretations are different during different historical times.

Why do we have a Bill of Rights? People who thought we should not ratify (anti-feds) are responsible for adding it to the Constitution. Federalists thought we should not have it because they did not want enumerated freedoms--if you leave rights out, they will not be available (like privacy). Also, the state constitutions already had bills of rights. Madison initially thought it was not needed, but changed his mind later.

Alien and sedition acts of 1790s--made it almost impossible to criticize the government. Had a sunset clause, as all laws passed during time of crisis should. We may not be thinking clearly during times of crisis.

Why didn't the republican newspaper editors take the govt to the supreme court--no precedent, prior to Marbury v. Madison. Court was made up of federalist judges who might not be unbiased.

What was freedom of the press in 1790? English Law--No prior restraint, but if they publish something harmful, you can prosecute. Some said the first amendment only applied to keeping govt. from restricting publishing something.

Women's voices in the 19th century--women could speak, write, petition. Seneca Falls Declaration of Sentiments echoes the language of the Declaration and first amendment right.

Women were instrumental in the abolition of slavery.
Women's Christian Temperance Union.
World War I--a lot of protests from women. Some people wanted to just call this treason. Espionage act in 1917--still on the books--makes it a crime for anyone to willfully make false statements with intent to interfere with the military success of the U.S. or undermine the morale of soldiers or obstruct the signing up to serve in the military. Postmaster could exclude from mail anything printed that would do these things.
People are starting to go to court to see if their rights are being violated. Paterson v. Colorado 1907 (bad tendency test) Doesn't matter whether what you said is true or false, if it hurts the war effort you can be convicted.

Schenck vs. U.S 1919--clear and present danger test--fire in a crowded theater--justification for limiting freedom of speech.
Over the summer, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes has a change of heart. He hears another case the next year--Abrams v. U.S. Holmes dissents in this case with the clear and present danger test. Modern first amendment theory is based upon his dissent. You get closer to the truth when there are many ideas in the marketplace. "

-Anonymous
_________________________________________________________________

And, now... back to my notes...


Franklin Roosevelt introduced the four freedoms that became the thinking for modern human rights movements. The freedoms he enunciates in his 1941 state of the Union address to Congress:
  1. Freedom of speech and expression
  2. Freedom of every person to worship God in his on way
  3. Freedom from want ("economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants")
  4. Freedom from fear
Jehovah's Witnesses began engaging in several court cases following the prejudicial treatment of their faith under Hitler's regime. Saluting the flag in public schools was an issue they felt violated their religious beliefs. In 1940, a brother and sister (ages 10 and 12) refused to say the Pledge of Allegiance in school and the children were excluded from school until they agreed to say the Pledge at school. The principal, supported by the school board, refused to let the children even attend part of the school day if they will not say the Pledge. The school board later expelled the children so the father felt no alternative but to appeal the case to the courts. The case was appealed all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court where the cause of the Jehovah's Witnesses won. A brief to the Court argued that our nation differed from Nazi Germany because of our individual rights to religious freedom. Nonetheless, the Court decided in favor of the school district.

Justice Jackson, during World War II, responded to the case of West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, a second Jehovah's Witness case similar to the 1941 case. In his Opinion which overturned the 1941 Opinion, he states: "Compulsory unification of opinion achieves only the unanimity of the graveyard." He argued that if we do not allow people to have dissenting opinions, we will end up eliminating those with those opinions: "Those who begin coercive elimination of dissent soon find themselves exterminating the dissenters." This was the Court's reaction to the Jehovah's Witnesses appeal to not say the Pledge of Allegiance. The Opinion was delivered in 1943.

We ended with a discussion of cases related to students' freedom of speech beginning with Tinker v. DesMoines and continuing with Morse et al. v. Frederick (the "Bong Hits for Jesus" case). The decision in the Morse case was not related to time, manner, and place. In Oyez, it states: "Chief Justice John Roberts's majority opinion held that although students do have some right to political speech even while in school, this right does not extend to pro-drug messages that may undermine the school's important mission to discourage drug use."

Post 9-11 Questions to Debate
  1. Is the war on terrorism a new kind of war?
  2. How do you fight a war on terrorism without sacrificing freedoms or by bcoming terrorists yourselves?
  3. How do you balance liberty and security?

Friday, August 3, 2007

WtP: Nevada We the People Alumni Network

Kim Stanhouse presented on the Nevada We the People Alumni Network (STAR). This is a network of former students who participated in the We the People curricula who make themselves available to assist teachers as they use the curriculum in their classrooms. There are Northern and Southern Nevada networks. To find an individual from this network to support in the classroom, contact Marcia Ellis.


After her presentation, Mark Towell (including ideas from Milt Hyams) presented additional ideas for finding classroom assistance. Angela Orr also noted that she and the other mentors of this Institute are very eager to help teachers to be successful with this curriculum in their individual classrooms. They are willing to make themselves available throughout the school year as teachers implement We the People .

WtP: Pro Se Court

Angela led us in a demonstration lesson of Pro Se Court, a method that uses the jigsaw method to have students argue in court.

She chose a court case, Hazelwood School District vs. Kuhlmeier. We reviewed the article by reading a brief description of the case and the appellate process. She then separated us into three groups, one representing Hazelwood (the petitioners), one group representing the respondents (Kuhlmeier), and the third group being justices. We met in our groups and discussed how to best argue our side of the case. We then returned to the classroom and separated into groups of three people (with one individual representing the petitioners, respondents, and justices).

The petitioners began by arguing their cases and had 90 seconds to present their side. The justice then asked two questions of the petitioners. This was repeated with the respondents and then each group (beginning with the petitioners) was provided 20 seconds for a rebuttal.

The justice then had 1-2 minutes to write her response. All justices moved to the front of the room and each, in turn, read his/her decision.

I was a respondent. In our mock court, Hazelwood School District won with a 4-2 decision. In the real case, Hazelwood also won with a decision of 5-3.

Oyez is a website allowing users to access all Supreme Court decisions. It is easy to access and provides short amount of information on cases. This is a wonderful resource for gaining information for this activity.

WtP: Unit 4 — How have the protections of the Bill of Rights been developed and expanded?

Presented by David Tanenhaus, Ph.D. — University of Nevada, Las Vegas

The notion of a living constitution is that the inherent structure is relatively stable and is accepted as the higher law of the land.

David began with a discussion of Justice Thurgood Marshall's "Commentary: Reflections on the Bicentennial of the United States Constitution." Next, we discussed Sanford Levinson's "Why I Did Not Sign the Constitution: With a Chance to Endorse It, I Had to Decline." He also addressed the issue, as did Leeson and Casper, of a lack of an explanation of the term "citizen" in the Constitution.

Many scholars would argue that understanding our Constitution requires moving beyond the formal Constitution (see below) toward a close and thorough review of court precedents, habits, understanding, and attitudes.

Key Elements of the Formal Constitution:
  • 1787: U.S. Constitution
  • 1789: Bill of Rights
  • 1795: 11th Amendment
  • 1804: 12th Amendment
The Dred Scott Case (1857)

Dred Scott, his wife, and children were owned by a doctor and soldier. The family owning the Scotts took their family and slaves into a free territory. Scott asked why he shouldn't be free if living in a free territory.

The main question set before the Supreme Court was whether children of imported slaves could ever attain full citizenship. Taney answered that without an amendment to the U.S. Constitution, blacks could never become full U.S. citizens. This concept alone would probably not been enough to inflame the north into the Civil War. The decision further argued that it was not possible to abolish slavery in the territories because of Constitutional provisions relating to property. This was the first time in U.S. history that the Supreme Court struck down major legislation.

The fear of the Northerners was that another Dred Scott was on its way that would result in creating slave states from non-slave states. They were worried there was an effort to nationalize slavery.

At this point, the people thought of the Constitution as a static document that they could not change. However, the only way to make a change was to amend the Constitution. The people saw the Constitution, Bill of Rights, and Bible as sacred documents.

It took the Civil War for Americans to accept that they were able to have a living, evolving Constitution.

The Civil Rights Act (1866) states that blacks and whites have the same rights.

The Fourteenth Amendment (1868)

The goal of the Amendment was to overturn the Dred Scott decision as well as overturn other court cases that did not recognize blacks as equal citizens. The first Section establishes natural-born citizenship for both the United States and your resident state (dual citizenship). Though it guarantees "privileges and immunities," it does not specify these privileges and immunities.

This amendment established natural-born citizenship to both the nation and resident states (dual citizenship) in addition to due process of law (The "Due Process Clause"). It also adds an "Equal Protection Clause."
  • Privileges and Immunities Clause: Our rights as U.S. citizens are very limited according to the Supreme Court in the Slaughterhouse cases. It had originally seemed that this would be the mot important part of the Amendment, but court decisions over time have made this clause of less-than-expected importance.
Civil Rights Act (1875): Public accommodations cannot discriminate against people because of race.

Civil Rights Cases (1883): The Supreme Court questions whether it was acceptable for Congress to pass acts related to state discrimination. Though it ensures no discrimination within states, the decision does not extend to individuals.

Harlan was a slave owner who changed his mind about slave ownership and later became a Justice of the Supreme Court. He wrote a dissenting opinion that the 13th and 14th Amendments did change the fundamental law and reiterated that it was Congress, not the Courts, had the power to write legislation.

Plessy vs. Ferguson (1896) supports the Jim Crow laws that were established between 1883 and 1896). Note that these laws were started in the north. The South, because slavery was still in force, did not need these laws - they were already discriminating against the blacks. Some of the elements included in the Jim Crow laws that limited people from voting (poll tax, literacy, "reasonable interpretations" of the Constitution, and tests about the government). There were recommendations to have separate everything from rail cars to different bibles on which to testify in court. In the Plessy decision, Brown stated you cannot legislate morality. The decision ended by stating that if the state laws were "reasonable," they could pass any laws they would like. Justic Harlan wrote a dissenting opinion in which he said this decision would be as disastrous as the Dred Scott decision.

Incorporation is the concept that the 14th Amendment extends all Amendments in the Bill of Rights to individual citizens (instead of the rights being limited to only the states). Based on court cases, not all rights have yet been incorporated so they relate to individual rights. The 2nd (bear arms) and 3rd (quartering soldiers) have not yet been incorporated under the 14th Amendment.

WtP: A Night at the Beach


One night the Institute leaders and mentors led us on a jaunt to the beach. There, we swam, drank, talked, and climbed on the rocks until very late. My favorite was swimming, climbing on the rocks, and getting to know the other Institute participants. The people here are GREAT!

Thursday, August 2, 2007

WtP: Introduction to Project Citizen

Marcia Ellis introduced the Institute attendees to Project Citizen. She requested that we inform her if we use Project Citizen or other civic education programs in our classrooms so they can track use of the program. Pam Bledsoe also presented on aspects of her students' experiences.

Project Citizen is a program for youth, young adults that teaches them the process of public policy.

Public Policy: A law, regulation, or procedure enacted by a governing body that impacts the community.

Steps in Project Citizen:
  1. Students identify public policy issues within their community they would like to address. As a class, they need to determine which problems are of the greatest interest to the entire class. They may wish to do research on their questions over a period of time. Ideally, the class will come to consensus on their chosen topic.
  2. Select a problem for the class.
  3. Students research the issue learning the history related to the issue and perspectives of other communities and their "constituents" on the issue.
  4. The class develops a "portfolio" that takes the form of a poster. The poster must explain their problem, provide alternative policies, the student-selected proposed solution, and suggestions for implementation.
  5. Students deliver a presentation to a "public" audience.
  6. Students reflect on their experience.
It is critical that this process is student-led, even if the teacher does not agree with the public policy issue or solutions they choose.

Marcia also introduced us to the They Had a Dream, Too video (available online) and curriculum, inTime Classroom's All But My Life, and two books:
I also recommended the Teaching Tolerance resources and Julia and Dan recommended Holocaust resources available in Las Vegas, Nevada. Marcia said she would share websites of civic education organizations with the group. These are available at: http://coe.nevada.edu/ckeeler/SSM/Materials.html. In addition, I recommend my social studies Delicious site.

WtP: "How Should Representative Smith Vote"

Our entire Institute group had the opportunity to engage in a simulated public hearing on the topic of smoking. One individual, Julia, was assigned the role of Representative Smith and Brien and Bonnie were her staff. The rest of the group was separated into four groups:
  1. Tobacco Growers and Processors
  2. Citizens for Freedom
  3. Citizens for a Smoke-Free Environment
  4. Citizens for Better Health
Each group had twenty minutes to write a 1-2 minute statement to deliver to the Representative. Groups were called up to give their statements and each was then asked 1-2 follow-up questions by the Representative and her staff.

My group (Stephanie, Richard, Jhordan, and me) was "Citizens for Freedom." We first established that it is well known that smoking is hazardous. We then sited our freedoms from the Bill of Rights and U.S. Constitution, provided examples of areas where our freedoms have been violated, and then offered a strong conclusion.


This is what I said for my section:
The federal government has already usurped our individual rights through seatbelt laws, regulating freedom of speech on the airways, and searches under the Patriot Act. If permitted to once again violate our natural rights, we question how far the national government will continue to go in limiting our rights. Te people of the United States need to ensure we are not allowing our government to completely control our lives.
Following the activity, we debriefed the lesson as if we were K-12 students and then debriefed it as teachers.

This lesson appears on pp. 104-107 of the elementary school We the People textbook.

WtP: Unit 3 — How did the values and principles embodied in the Constitution shape American institutions and practices?

Presented by Dr. Scott Casper — University of Nevada, Reno

Through primary document research, we learn more about the thinking behind the basis of our government. For example, to understand a single aspect of the Constitution, it is helpful to read the Federalist ad Anti-Federalist papers. Scott provided us with a list of web-based repositories of primary source documents. The sites included on the form were:

I also recommend Kathy Schrock's primary source documents site and my social studies webliography where I am trying to archive all these resources.

Political Parties in 1787

Scott presented on three separate viewpoints from the late 18th century.
  1. Factions/political parties were evils that should be repressed.
  2. Factions/parties will exist, but they must remain in check. They are controlled by the few that can become corrupt. No single faction can take over so all must be balanced in some way.
  3. Factions/parties are people working together on a particular issue. When there are factions within the government, there will be a process of discussion and reasoning that will result in the "truth." If these faction exist, instead, in the republic (outside of the government), it is means for civil war. Therefore, factions can be a good thing.
Scott walked us carefully through Federalist #10 and diagrammed its main concepts. See the diagram we created during the lecture below.



The Two Party System

Political parties are lasting coalitions of people that seek offices in government. Their mission is to link leaders in government to a significant population. A party is a link between the center of government and the people at large. Each party has a specific agenda. A competitive party system is system in which there are parties that cannot discount each other because each party is powerful. The public good in this system is obtained by addressing myriad issues. Both parties in a bi-party system seek the public good, but there is a recognition that there may be different methods of reaching the common good.

Factions do not have to be durable and they can exist within or outside of a political party. Faction politics is fluid — they come and go, sometimes being successful, sometimes addressing only contemporary issues. Political parties are more deliberate and organized than factions.

The History of Parties in the United States

The origin of the two-party system in the U.S. date to the 1790s. The Federalists and Anti-Federalists disbanded after the ratification of the Constitution because they no longer had a cause to support it. The individuals in these factions remained in politics following the ratification, even though they had very different views.

Division occurring following the ratification were the argument over a Bank of the United States and the proper method for dealing with the French Revolution. In terms of the French Revolution, Washington recommended neutrality. Many saw this as "selling out" the French and individuals and small groups began to meet to address the issue. People in the administration supporting neutrality called themselves "federalists." Those wishing to support the French came to be known as republicans. In the election of 1796, John Adams (a federalist) became President and Thomas Jefferson (a republican) became Vice President. The democratic republican clubs began to develop. Adams and Jefferson despised one another and Jefferson started bankrolling newspapers that criticized Adams.

The Alien and Sedition Acts were passed. They stated that speaking against the government was considered sedition and printing anti-governmental ideas led to imprisonment.

In the election of 1800, Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr (both republicans) were elected and tied so the House of Representatives had to make the decision . Alexander Hamilton argued that Jefferson was the lesser of the two dangers ("I detest Jefferson, but Burr is dangerous"). Jefferson was, therefore, chosen to be President.

In Jefferson's inaugural address of 1801, he says "we are all federalists; we are all republicans." He was seeking to combine everyone into a single party seeking the common good. By 1804, the federalist party had disintegrated. In 1820, Monroe supported the idea of not having political parties. The basis for disagreement then became their state affiliation. In 1824, states put up their own candidates, but none of the candidates received a majority. The three candidates receiving the most votes were sent to the House of Representatives, and Adams was selected to be President (even though he didn't win the vote of the electoral college).

Politics mostly worked by family affiliations and the families with which individuals aligned. Martin VanBuren believed that it would be better to align with people with common political views, rather than familial affiliations. He argued that the people should have the opportunity to choose a belief system to support, not a single person. Then, the winning individual could choose to bring in his own supporters into the cabinet. He suggested the development of a political party that would represent Jacksonian ideas. Van Buren thought a political party that would unite the people across state lines. This would create a stronger republic and would assist in overcoming the slavery issue.

Jackson engages in many controversial issues like raising tariffs and threatening to send in troops to support his issues. He engaged in enough controversial activities around the country that a faction formed to show their dislike of Jackson. This party became the whig party and they rallied around trying to win the presidential election. The republicans also wanted to win the election.

By the 1850s, the whig party was disbanding because their common interests had changed. The major dividing issue was slavery. Northern whigs, northern democrats, and anti-slavery advocates joined to call themselves the republican party in 1854. By 1856, the republicans were able to become the second major political party, replacing the whigs.

In 1896, the parties are separated along state lines which are further separated by the north and south.

Roosevelt's New Deal brought the mid-western farmers, southern whites, and northern workers into the Democratic Party. This was called the New Deal Coalition and the democrats won most of the elections between 1932 and 1964 when the Civil Rights Movement began. After the Civil Rights era, southerners started to split into whites choosing the Republican Party and the blacks choosing the Democratic Party. Today, Democrats tend to win the west coast and north and Republicans tend to win the mid-west and south.

The history of the American party system:
  1. Federalists versus Jeffersonian Republicans
  2. Almost everyone calls themselves Democrat Republicans (1801-1824)
  3. Democrats versus the Whigs (1855-1896)
  4. Democrats and Republicans (1896-1928) — The republicans maintained the majority in all but two elections
  5. New Deal Coalition (1932-1964)
  6. Democrats versus Republicans (1980s-today)
The agenda of the democratic and republican parties have almost completely "flip-flopped" over the last century.

The Point of Political Parties

Political parties provide glue between our separate branches ensuring that the checks of the system will not always stop the development of new legislation. The party systems works together while the Constitution tries to keep keep things separate.

Parties also connect the people with the national government by serving as a communication avenue between the two entities.

WtP: Federalist/Anti-Federalist Debate


Separate students into two large groups, calling one the Federalists and the other the Anti-Federalists. Within each group, assign one student a concept from the U.S. Constitution (e.g., republicanism, federalism, senate). Allow all students 20 minutes of individual work to develop a 60 second position statement and 20 second rebuttal for the position.

Invite all students back to the classroom and separate them into their groups, seating them in order of the words to be debated.

Have one student from each side approach the podium. Let the Anti-Federalists begin the debate, having their opportunity to present their opening statement. Let the Federalist debater then have their one minute opportunity to state their position. Allow the Anti-Federalist to rebut the Federalist statement in 20 seconds and then the Federalist the same opportunity.

After the debate, have "judges" determine which team won by evaluating each pair of debaters.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

WtP: Unit 2 — How Did the Framers Create the Constitution?

Presented by Dr. Scott Casper — University of Nevada, Reno

Scott was introduced as a master teacher and quickly convinced us this was true by greeting us with smiles and memorizing all of our names.

Teaching American History Resources

Scott introduced Teaching American History, a website that presents the Constitutional Convention as a play in Four Acts, each Act separated into Scenes. Features of the site include:
The Basis for the Constitutional Convention

The reason for the Convention was to suggest amendments to the Articles of Confederation because they didn't believe the Articles were working effectively. Many of the individuals as this Convention also were officers within the Continental Congress.

Representatives: Individuals that exist to serve a population and are part of a body and engage in persuasive dialog.

At the time of the Convention, there were several systems of representation the Framers knew including the British government, colonial governments, and Articles of Confederation government.

The British government was led by the king who represented himself and his family, the House of Lords represented the nobility (and tied to a specific population), and the House of Commons represented everyone else. Districts were divided by geographic area within Great Britain, not by human demographics.

An argument of the Framers was taxation without representation. Britain argued that the House of Commons represented all the common people, regardless of whether they live in Great Britain. The colonies borrowed much of the British system of government.

The government of the colonies was represented by a governor appointed by the king and representatives of the constituents to their assemblies. The states write new constitutions that include very strong legislative bodies and very weak governors.

Under the Articles of Confederation, the government had very specific enumerated powers that together formed a "firm league of friendship." Thirteen states sent representatives to the "United States in Congress Assembled." They were simply a league, a meeting of the states. Each state had one vote, not represented by population or geographic size. To change the Articles of Confederation, all thirteen states had to agree to all amendments. There was never a time when all thirteen states could agree. This led to significant disappointment by the people because they could not effectively change the Articles. The leaders were very aware of the weaknesses of the Articles and many left Congress when their terms expired because of their disappointment in the system. Issues including currency were very problematic.

The Constitutional Convention

The Framers chose to have the Constitutional Convention in private and began by setting rules. Some of these included the use of civic discourse (all individuals were given opportunities to hear out one another until presented ideas were understood by all), no one could speak twice before everyone had the opportunity to speak once, all issues could be revisited.

Proposals at the Constitutional Convention

Over the first month of the Convention, the main topics were representation and the branches of power. These were addressed in three proposed plans.

Dr. Casper separated us into three groups and gave each group a separate plan. Without telling us, one group received the Virgina Plan (Madison's Plan), one group (mine) received the New Jersey Plan, and a third group received Hamilton's Plan. We were asked to read the plans in our groups and draw a picture representing the plan. All groups chose to draw forms of concept maps, and then each group presented their plan. Scott then informed us of the history related to the plans and reviewed the level of central power existing within each of the plans.

The Virginia Plan

The New Jersey Plan

Hamilton's Plan


The Great Compromise

Madison was concerned that the Virginia Plan was not favorable during the Convention. One problem was that both houses of the legislative branch were elected by the people and divided based on population. The Great Compromise was to have two houses of the legislature with one having a varied number of representatives based on state populations and the other having the same number of representatives for each state. This compromise was considered a failure to Madison because it gave the states (rather than the people) more power than under the Virginia Plan. The next question was about deciding how to determine the voting population of a state (e.g., property owners, slaves, women).

Part of the Constitution requires a census every ten years. Additionally, the Constitution does not describe how to do the census so every decade new laws need to be developed for the upcoming census. They were recognizing the need of the Constitution to address the growth of the nation.

The Constitution addresses the issue of slavery, without using the word "slavery" in four areas.

  • In the Articles of Confederation, addressing taxation was based on the value of "improved land" within a state (meaning that the land has been changed by the people through construction). Assessing this land, however, was problematic. There was a proposed amendment to the Articles that would change the "improved land" clause to a population-based number which includes slaves being counted as 3/5 of a person. The amendment did not pass, but it was still in the minds of the Framers when it came to the Constitutional Convention. Taxation of states was another problem. The problem was slave owners wanted their slaves included in the Constitution because they wanted more representatives in Congress, but they did not want them included because this would mean they would be taxed more. This is what led to the 3/5 clause of the Constitution. In the original clause of the Constitution, indentured servants were included for the purposes of taxation and representation, but non-taxed Indians and slaves were not included.
  • The Southern states that were most interested in the slave trade were Georgia and South Carolina. These states did not have the numbers of slaves that the other Southern States had because they were still establishing their states and they had still had small populations. This leads to the clause that no change in slave importation could occur before 1808.
  • The Constitution supported that state laws governed slavery by supporting extradition of escaped slaves.
  • The Constitution also addresses slave rebellions in Article 4, Section 4 where it addresses "domestic violence."
The issue of slavery was not resolved in the Constitution, nor was the issue of citizenship and voting rights. They did not deal with these issues because they knew they would not be able to come to consensus.

The power of the presidency was also a concern because its powers were never enumerated. They did this, in part, because they knew they would elect Washington and they would allow him to create the office through his experience, and, in part, this occurred because the issue was discussed at the end of the Convention when they were tired. They spent more time determining how to elect the president than what the president would do. They chose not to use direct election because the states could decide who would vote and they could allow all their children and women vote if they wanted to win an election. Using a method that would allow the legislators to choose the president would leave the executive in a position in which he was beholden to the legislators. The electoral college was a compromise because it included representatives based on population as well as statehood. Another benefit, for some members of the Convention, was that the electoral college would allow a group of wise, educated individuals to choose the president.

The End of the Convention

Several of the delegates have left the Convention before it concludes for a myriad of reasons, primarily because of a lack of support of the document. The Constitution was required to have support of nine of the thirteen states. To get it considered for ratification, it was published in newspapers and, immediately, the press begn publishing letters stating opinions about the document. Had the vote been taken when originally reduced, the U.S. Constitution probably would not have passed. It was critical that New York and Virginia ratified the document. Some states ratify the Constitution quickly because they are small states or because they would gain economic benefits because the center of government would be in their state (Pennsylvania).

The Federalist/Anti-Federalist Papers

The Federalists were truly nationalists, but they chose the term because it gave the impression that they were more in alignment with federal views. The writers of the federalist and anti-federalist papers used pseudonyms because they could have their ideas received as ideas, rather than having them associated with their individual personalities. The names they used were mostly classical and Roman, like Brutus.

Scott then worked us through the process of reading primary documents very closely. The people of 1787 were very literate including 90% of white males and they are written very technically. Argument, language, and context are critical in documents and this is what a carefully reading addresses. He recommends we ask "What language is the author using and why?" He then carefully walked us through the Anti-Federalist argument by Brutus on October 18, 1787.


WtP: Nevada State Standards and Representative Democracy in America

Mark led this section and directed us to paperwork showing the correlation between the We the People curriculum and the Nevada social studies standards. These are also available online.

Kit then presented on Representative Democracy in America.

Representative Democracy in America

This is one of the programs of the Center for Civic Education.

They run a back-to-school program intended to get legislators into classrooms. When they come, they will bring a variety of items:
Kit then introduced us to the Center for Congress at Indiana University. The site is resource-rich for both students and teachers and includes many simulations for use in classrooms. Two simulations used and recommended by teachers at the Institute include:
  • The Impact of Congress
  • Federal Budget Allocation
Both are available from http://www.centeroncongress.org/learn_about/launcher.htm

We then viewed part of the Representative Democracy in America video and engaged in a lesson from p. 71 of the Representative Democracy in America video series instructional guide. In our group, we had to argue why the executive branch we should have more power. We came to these suggestions:
  • Should happen because the executive branch is represented by every U.S. citizen and "The executive power shall be vested in the President of the U.S.A." (U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 1.1), we were chosen into this position because of our wisdom
  • The President in office remains in office until the President is recalled or dies
  • Suspend the writ of habeas corpus
  • Enforce ex post facto laws
  • Unanimous vote of Congress is needed to override a veto
  • Congress cannot adjourn or recess until their agenda is complete
  • Only the executive officer receives a paycheck
  • We can change members the judicial branch at will
  • Remove the idea of Advice and Consent of the Senate for any appointments or treaties
After having each branch present its ideas, Kit presented us with the question: "Did the Framers get it right?"

WtP: Taboo Game

Mark solicited two volunteers from each mentor group and they were excused from the room. The volunteers entered, one group of two at a time and they faced each other. The person facing the wall was able to see 10 vocabulary words. The person who could see the words had 1 minute and 15 seconds to give definitions for the words while the person who could not see the words guessed them.

  1. Citizen
  2. Alien
  3. Civil Disobedience
  4. Classical Republicans
  5. Civic Virtue
  6. Common Good
  7. Human Nature
  8. Natural Rights
  9. Social Contract
  10. Continental Congress

WtP: Evening at Lake Tahoe

In the evening, several of the WtP attendees walked to Lake Tahoe.

I walked along the beach and found a wonderful creek and took lots of pictures. See below.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

WtP: Mentor Group — Beginning Work on Our Hearing

Following the "hearing train" activity, each group met separately to begin refining our group statement. Below is our combined statement.

Unit Six, Question Three
Do all citizens have the responsibility to participate in the political life of the nations? Why or why not?
  • If citizens should participate, what forms should that participation take?
  • Is civil disobedience ever a justified form of political participation? Explain your position.

  1. Bonnie: All citizens have the responsibility to participate in the political life of the nation. They have the responsibility to participate in the political life of the nation. They have responsibility to become informed voters and to vote in all elections. They should also be willing to assist their government to the best of their ability. Assistance could be in the form of writing their approval or disapproval to officially be willing to serve in offices or serve on a jury. Government by the people means we need to be involved in whatever way suits our talents and times. The government work best when all are involved.
  2. Susan: Furthermore, citizen's responsibilities are: 1.) vote; 2.) volunteer; 3.) run for office; 4.) serve; and, 5.) stay current and hold offices; 6.) serve on juries and being accountable. These are a few ways the citizens participate in the government.
  3. Tara: Expanding on that idea, to become effective citizens in a constitutional democracy we need to understand our roles and responsibilities in our government as well as their responsibilities to us as citizens. We also need to understand how our system was set-up and organized.
  4. Christy: Therefore, citizens of the U.S. have the opportunity to change laws and policies using many methods. Ideally, citizens would be pleased with the laws and policies in place because they had the opportunity to vote for and elect officials to represent their interests. If voting for specific representatives does not prove to meet the needs of an individual citizen, s/he has the right to petition for change. If the petition still fails to meet the needs of the citizen, the citizen may choose to run for, and possibly be elected to office him/herself. If elected, however, the individuals is still responsible to address the desires of the people s/he serves. If the people disagree with the individual, as a representative or not, Americans have the opportunity to speak to their personal interests and assemble to further discuss the issues. Furthermore, they may take advantage of a free press to address the issue. Should the individual's preference still prove unacceptable to the general population, there are several possibilities. Under the ideal of classical republicanism, the individual may simply accept the law or policy, recognizing it is in the best interest of the entire community, or the individual may challenge the law. To challenge the law, the individual must begin by questioning whether the law or policy aligns with the fundamental law of the land. If it does not, the citizen is encouraged, within the Declaration of Independence and through precedence set via the 1960s Civil Rights Movement, to engage in civil disobedience.
  5. Bill: Civil disobedience is justified as a form of political participation when the government and its laws have been become unjust. The person that wishes to perform civil disobedience should be very careful when they choose to do so. They should only disobey the law that is unjust and not simply break a law for the sake of breaking it. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. states in his Letter from a Birmingham jail, “One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that an unjust law is no law at all…’ All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality.” For example, during the 1960s American civil rights movement, the participants felt very strongly about only breaking the unjust Jim Crow segregation laws. They would violate an unjust state court ruling, but would never violate a ruling from a federal judge because the federal system was the greatest ally for the members of the movement.
  6. Richard: On the other hand, Martin Luther King, Jr. also stated in his letter from Birmingham Jail: "Justice too long delayed is justice denied" helps to answer the question of what [greater] potential negative consequence of civil disobedience in a democratic society. The opportunity may have passed for the right time to act. Other consequences include lack of planning, misunderstanding of the problem, a backlash from the majority that counteracts the initial disobedience. Or on the most simple level the action just does not work.

WtP: Aboard the Hearing Train

This lesson, presented by Marcia Ellis, assists in getting students started with the writing process.

Students are separated into groups. Each group receives a set of questions, one per individual, from their unit. Each individual randomly chooses one question from the group of questions and develops a 2-3 sentence response to the question. After three minutes of writing, we wrote our responses on a car of a paper train. These cars were taped t oa wall in the order they should be presented and we taped transition words/phrases between each car.

My group's question was from Unit 6: "4. How might a person go about changing a law or policy with which he or she disagrees?"

My response, below, was written very quickly as is replete with technical inaccuracies. Nonetheless, I think it's a good start:

"Citizens of the U.S. have the opportunity to change laws and policies using many methods. Ideally, citizens would be pleased with the laws and policies in place because they had the opportunity to vote for and elect officials to represent their interests. If voting for specific representatives does not prove to meet the needs of an individual citizen, s/he has the right to petition for change. If the petition still fails to meet the needs of the citizen, the citizen may choose to run for, and possibly be elected to office him/herself. If elected, however, the individuals is still responsible to address the desires of the people s/he serves. If the people disagree with the individual, as a representative or not, Americans have the opportunity to speak to their personal interests and assemble to further discuss the issues. Furthermore, they may take advantage of a free press to address the issue. Should the individual's preference still prove unacceptable to the general population, there are several possibilities. Under the ideal of classical republicanism, the individual may simply accept the law or policy, recognizing it is in the best interest of the entire community, or the individual may challenge the law. To challenge the law, the individual must begin by questioning whether the law or policy aligns with the fundamental law of the land. If it does not, the citizen is encouraged, within the Declaration of Independence and through precedence set via the 1960s Civil Rights Movement, to engage in civil disobedience."

After we completed our trains, each group read their collective statements in order.

WtP: Middle School Meeting

Angela Orr led five educators (Jennifer, Bonnie, Christina, Julia, and me) to learn ways to teach the WtP curriculum with middle level learners.

The full middle level curriculum can be delivered in six weeks if following the book directly. Angela recommends using the book in order and using the entire curriculum. It is possible to use sections of the text, substituting them for units currently being taught. Regardless of the amount of the text the teacher chooses to use, it is imperative the students engage in the congressional hearing. The skills they gain through this process is critical to developing 21st Century Skills.

Using units 1, 2, 5, and 6 are probably the best chapters to use if you cannot use the entire curriculum. Students can read in class or out of class (if there are enough books). When reading in class, encourage "Think Alouds."

Unit 1

One teacher has her students study Unit 1 (chapters 2, 3, 4, and 5) at the beginning of the school year, spending one day per lesson. When finished, the class spends a day to develop their class rules.

Unit 2 (Articles of Confederation, Shay's Rebellion, Need for a Constitution)

The WtP text focuses more on the basics and understandable concepts than other 7th grade U.S. history texts. This is a nice unit to substitute for what is addressed in other textbooks. Some teachers use this unit as a precursor to the Civil War. The unit helps students gain a strong understanding of the Constitution.

Unit 5

Students love this unit because there is lots of debate about what they believe. It is particularly good at the end of the year when students are losing interest and need controversy to revive them.

Unit 6

This is a nice unit to bring in current issues and events. A great way to end the school year is talking about citizenship and their personal responsibilities.

Sponge Activity Ideas
  • Use the pictures to prompt student inquiry.
  • Use the Lesson Review questions (this can also be homework).
Suggested Content Delivery Methods

The Balloon Game

Students clear their desks of everything but a writing utensil. Hand out a balloon to each child and have them blow them up. Rule 1: No one can get hurt. Rule 2: Love your balloon. Rule 3: Relish it. Rule 4: You must have to have an unpopped balloon at the end of the game. Instruct them the game lasts for 90 seconds and yell "Go"! The students will try top pop everyone's balloons. After 90 seconds, ask "Why didn't you all just sit quietly in your desks so you could all win?" Ask "Why did some people work together to to pop the balloons of others?" Ask: "Why were some people more powerful/better at protecting their balloons?" Ask: "Was this a fair game? Why r why not?" Ask: "If you could have made a more fair game, what what would you have done differently?" These questions should lead to an understanding of the state of nature. After describing the state of nature, have students work in groiups to answer the questions at the end of chapter 2.

Enhancing Vocabulary Instruction

Use kinesthetic moves to teach the vocabulary. Angela Orr developed example movements for the terms below, but videos of these movements, unfortunately, were lost during a server error.
  • Montesquieu: "All governments have power. So you have to separate the powers, balance the powers, and check the powers."
  • Veto: "Veto, Say 'No'! Veto, Say 'No'!"Congress can override the veto.
  • Private Domain
  • Popular Sovereignty
  • Overriding the Veto

After introducing some kinesthetic moves, give them vocabulary words throughout the year and let them create their own moves.

Use vocabulary wheels.

Play Splat: Tape words around the floor, and separate students into teams of two. Give each team a flyswatter. Read a definition and the first team to swat the correct word gets a point.

Have students look at and analyze pictures and cartoons. Using the graphics, allow students to construct their own understanding of vocabulary terms or concepts (e.g., limited powers, suffrage challenges, 14th Amendment).

In Re Gault

This is a lesson from p. 234 of the middle school textbook about due process. The lesson addresses the following Constitutional Amendments:
  • 4th: Reasonable search and seizure
  • 5th: Don't testify against yourself, allows people to remain silent, property can't be taken without just compensation, you must be told why you're being held and there must be a grand jury indictment
  • 6th: Impartial jury, jury before peers, you get a lawyer
  • 8th: Bail and no cruel and unusual punishment
  • 14th: Makes these rights apply to individuals
The teacher reads a manuscript of Gerald Gualt. We were to yell "Stop" whenever we felt that the rights of Gualt was violated. At that point, we would identify the right that had been offended and which amendment secured that right or what might violate other laws or procedures of due process. We would write these answers on an "In Re Gualt" worksheet.

"Is It Protected"

Angela introduced a worksheet that encourages student discussion. The students review statements and must decide if the statement is protected under the First Amendment or not. Example statements include:
  • A man yells: "George Bush is an idiot!"
  • A woman says: "I plan to blow up the Supreme Court tomorrow."
  • A student at school yells: "FIRE!" in the hallway (even though there isn't one), and people start yelling and running in panic.
  • Neo-Nazis want to run a "civilized" parade to memorialize Hitler in an all Jewish community.
  • A group protesting the death penalty picket and shout outside of a court room while trial is in session.
  • A young woman drives her car through a neighborhood using a bull horn to should "I love America!" at 1:00 AM.
Accountable Talk

Angela introduces her students to "Accountable Talk." She gives all each student in the group a number of poker chips. Sometimes, the chips are different colors. For example, each student may receive two red chips and two blue chips. The red chips allow students to make any related statement (e.g., "I feel...") The blue chips might represent comments related to the text or that include a citation to a law, precedent etc.
  • Only one student can speak at a time.
  • You must put in a chip to speak and you cannot speak if you do not have a chip (unless they are encouraging another person to talk).
  • What you say must align with you chip color.
This can be done in a whole group session, separating the students into two large groups, or even using it with small groups of 3-4 students.

Below is a graphic of a handout Angela created to help others better understand using accountable talk in classrooms.



How Does It Relate? Vocabulary

List vocabulary words from the the current chapter of the curriculum in rows of a grid and concepts addressed in multiple chapters from the text. Students work in groups to see how the vocabulary words they are currently learning relate to concepts from other chapters with which they're familiar.

WtP: Unit I — Philisophical and Historical Foundations

Presented by the Honorable (ret.) Sue Leeson, Oregon Supreme Court


To access primary resources relating to the We the People, go to the Utah site on the Center for Civic Education website (here).

Unit 1 Described

A benefit of Unit 1 is that it is about the individual and it answers the "Why" questions about hat we do. The focus of the unit is on ideas, values, principles, and history. It asks how we should live together.

"The ideas, values and principles that animated the Founders' debates are debated to this day. Students can and should understand them. As teachers, we can make these ideas, values and principles come to life in vibrant and engaging ways. We can also make history relevant and meaningful." -Leeson

Sue mentioned the school activity of giving students the opportunity to play a game, but not giving them any direction or rules. Students will always begin by jointly conceiving and agreeing to agreeing to a set of rules. This is precisely what happened at the Philadelphia Convention.

Unit 1 addresses four major questions:
  1. What is human nature?
  2. Why do human beings need to be governed and who should govern?
  3. What is good for human beings?
  4. What is government's ("the public's) role in achieving what is good for human beings?
Classical Republicanism

Plato and Aristotle are examples of cassical republicanism. It is the ancient understandings of the public sphere, political liberty, communal well-being, and human happiness.

What is human nature?

This addresses the question of what distinguishes human beings from other animals. We are social ("polis"), interdependent animals. The philosophy of Ubuntu argues that we become human by being in a social community. Humans are unique because they have the capacity to reason and speak. The capacity to speak and reason, developed within and through our environment, determines who is worthy to be a citizen versus who becomes a slave. Humans seek human communities (e.g., family, gangs, technology-based semiotic domains).

Classical republicans want interaction between people because this develops the individual ability to speak and reason. They want all people to be happy and believe this can occur if they thrive by meeting their ultimate end or purpose (called "telos"), or self-actualization. Humans are consistently making value judgments about what we do in our daily lives. Classical republicans are always seeking to increase our capacity.

Why do humans need government and who should govern?

Classical republicans believe living together can lead to excellence, but requires virtue. We have a capacity to be great or evil, but must make choices to develop that capacity. As we approach our positive capacity to speak and reason, which only occurs through community, we become happy and the community works well.

Government occurs naturally. We create governments because of our social nature. Within classical republicanism, there is no individual because individuals only exist within communities. They do not understand the concept of individual rights because our responsibilities are to the community, not to the self. This is why classical republicans seek a self-contained community.

Classical republicans seek a self-sustaining society, like a kibbutz or moshav. Plato said a community should not exceed 5,040 people because that keeps us within three degrees of separation. With computing, it is believed that the six degrees of separation will reduce to five.

Education is the central responsibility within the polis. Public spiritedness is critical as is living naturally together.

What is government's ("the public's") role in achieving what is good for humans?

Elements of the government's role in classical republicanism include:
  • Government must provide for community defense.
  • Moral education and civic virtue are central public functions.
  • Those who govern must be wise, not self-interested.
Assuring wise leadership requires finding a person who doesn't care about power. This is Plato's philosopher king," an individual that does not really want to govern, but is drawn into it. It is someone who is more interested in their reputation than power, prestige, and money. Classical republicanism seeks an individual who is not self-interested. In addition, the classical republican is seeking a leader who is interested in helping all community members to attain their best capacity and a person who shares common beliefs.

Classical republicans seek the individual who is best suited to the task, not the individual with the greatest interest in the task. This is what the electoral college was meant to do - find the best representative for the country. Factions and the resulting political parties defeat the ideal of an electoral college.

What is human nature?

Human nature can be determined by looking to a pre-political "state of nature."

Hobbes questions what life would be like in an environment without leadership. He argues that this would be a state of war. The question is: "How would I really behave if I didn't have a fear of being caught?" In this lawless society, there is a fear of all experiencing a violent death. It is a war f every man against every man. Everyone is a threat to everyone else. One common factor between all humans is that we are all mortal. Without government to keep us from killing each other, we would fear violent death more than anything else. In a state of nature, it is a constant war to survive and we are governed by a passion of fear. To survive, we must throw off the state of nature.

Hobbes argues that to leave a state of nature, we give our rights up in return for protection from a leviathan, a mortal god. We must give up absolute power. In order for the people to obey the laws, it is critical to have a strong police state. There must be a fear of violent death under government that is greater than fear of violent death in a state of nature. So, don't criticize a government for being too powerful, describe it as not being powerful enough.



Hobbes was explaining Machiavelli's political beliefs, 100 years after he wrote The Prince.







Along comes John Locke. We leave the state of nature by giving up some rights, and agree to be social via a social contract (further describe by Jean-Jacques Rousseau).



What is the government's ("the public's") role in achieving what is good for human beings?

Government is needed to provide defense and assure "domestic tranquility."
Government cannot be trusted completely.
Governments closest to people should have the greatest responsibilities.

What should be the proper relationship between public and private?

Ask students how they balance public and private interests by using the following examples:
  • Voting to raise taxes for schools, libraries, police and fire service?
  • Using public transit, biking or walking rather than driving a car?
  • Supporting or opposing a national identity card?


These challenge Tocqueville's "self-interest rightly understood" ideas."Tocqueville provides a broader description of public interest than just looking at the self.



Classical republicans tend to judge from a public perspective with ideals including desirability of small communities, focus on the common good, emphasis on education and moral virtue, duties to community, and public spiritedness.

Natural rights theorists tend to judge from the private perspective with government by consent, limited government, "self-interest rightly understood," and government as means for satisfying self-interest.

Examples from both the natural rights theory and classical republicanism blended in the following important American documents:
The Declaration of Independence is very classical republican in its presentation by stating we have a duty to our nation.

"When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security."

The Declaration is a social contract where the people of the colonies have agreed to work together, not to limit themselves to behaving as individuals within a state of nature. The people recognized their responsibilities, not just to the government, but to the attainment of all their people to achieve happiness. Within classical republicanism, we have a right and duty to throw off destructive governments.

The Declaration recognized that each of the colonies was like its own classical republic. It is within the states that there was political morality.

Monday, July 30, 2007

WtP: Student Congressional Hearings

The Institute participants had the opportunity to experience two groups of students engaged in an end-of-program congressional hearing.

The first presentation was by fifth grade students lead by Mr. Andrew Morris of Spanish Springs Elementary Schools. They presented on Unit Two: How did the framers write our Constitution?, though some of the students practiced for different units during the last school year.


The second presentation was by Mrs. Angela Orr's twelfth grade students from Damonte Ranch Middle/High School. Uniquely, this group was small so each student had to prepare for two units. Despite this challenge, they won the state competition and advanced to the national competition. They spoke on Unit Five, Question One ("Why have the first amendment rights been viewed as essential to the functioning of a free society?").

WtP: Unit 6 — The Role of the Citizen

Presented by the Honorable (ret.) Sue Leeson, Oregon Supreme Court



Sue was introduced as a brilliant "citizen extraordinaire." She is one of the people working on the re-write of the new high school text.

One of her concerns with education, particularly in higher education, is the isolation of educators from one another. She appreciates the opportunities to participate in communities, families, and friends because of a common interest (e.g., an interest in the WtP curricula). She is a firm believer in the WtP
textbooks and their cross-curricular possibilities.

Introduction to the We the People Program

Note that the table of contents offers only questions, not answers. Furthermore, much of the text is questions; therefore, providing children opportunities to be empowered by asking their own questions and discovering on their own. A benefit of the program is that there is so much new material that arises from the questions within the text.

An overview of the
textbook:
  • Unit 1 — Intellectual Foundations (The foundation of a building)
  • Unit 2 — How the Framers Drafted a Constitution (Pillar holding the building together)
  • Unit 3 — How Do You Enact a Constitution (Pillar holding the building together)
  • Unit 4 — Constitutional Revolution (Pillar holding the building together)
  • Unit 5 — The Rights of the Individual (Pillar holding the building together)
  • Unit 6 — Citizenship (The roof of the building)

The role of the government in relation to subjects, citizens, and aliens
  • Subjects — The relationship between the government and its subjects can involve subordinance, loyalty, obedience, control, oppression, or support.
  • Citizens — The relationship between the citizen and government can vary. In our government, we have popular sovereignty that occurs through lobbying, recall, monetary contributions, running for and holding office, voting, and petitioning. In the U.S., we own the government. [Note that the knowledge of our citizens has declined over time because of a lack of readership/viewership.]
  • Aliens — The status of aliens in the U.S. today is highly controversial. The research shows that aliens bring in more money through taxes than they deplete and they are better at voting than citizens.
There needs to be an alignment between the culture/constitution and the Constitution. It is amazing that the U.S. Constitution is so stable, a form of reverence by the citizens it serves.

Defining Citizenship

We were to break into groups of four and identify the citizenship requirements within the U.S. Constitution and to define citizenship. To be in the:
  • House of Representatives, you must be 25 years old, a U.S. citizen for 7 years, and a resident of the state you serve.
  • Senate, you must be 30 years old, a U.S. citizen for 9 years, and a resident of the state you serve.
  • President, you must be 35 years old, natural-born U.S. citizen (unless you were the first President).
  • Supreme Court, there is no requirement.
Congress' power over citizenship in the U.S. Constitution is limited to developing uniform rules of naturalization.

The Constitution never defines citizen because this was defined at the state level. The state definitions of citizens varied greatly. Some excluded populations included females, those without property, those of the "wrong religion," non-whites.

Ways of defining citizenship could relate to birth, blood/place of origin, property, residency. Countries vary their citizenship requirements; the U.S. has chosen to base citizenship on birth and naturalization.

We have had prohibitions against people of many different nations. We tend to welcome certain groups to be citizens when we need laborers, soldiers, or certain skills (e.g., scientists).

Some believe the statement "Out of many, become one" is a myth. There were 23 languages spoken in the colonies. Originally, we were defined as a melting pot until Carter redefined uour culture as a civic mosaic. When do we begin to feel threatened by the civic mosaic or "out of many, become one."

There is a unique circumstance in the U.S. that individuals are citizens of the nation as well as their state. It is uncommon for nations to have this dual-citizenship and particularly complicated for many to understand that the U.S. has executive, legislative, and judicial leadership at both the national and state levels. Because of this dual-citizenship, it is not surprising there are conflicts between laws in the states and nation. For example, the Supreme Court has ruled that medical marijuana is illegal, but several states have not respected this ruling.

Units of Government

Types of Government
  • International
  • National
  • State
  • County
  • City
  • Public Regulation Committee
  • Regional Planning Board
  • Indian Reservation
  • Neighborhood Advisory Boards
  • Water District
  • School District
  • Oil/Gas/Review Board
There are over 100,000 governments in the United States. The greatest government unit impacting us individually depends on what is important to us individually (e.g., building, education, pets, sewer). For most educators, the school district has the greatest impact. The units that touch us the most are usually those that are closest to the citizen (e.g., water/electricity district, school district, transportation district, library district). Citizen's responsibilities are to know and abide by their laws, participate as a leader by serving on Boards or city commissions, vote for people and measures. Our citizens tend to gladly create governments, but sadly participate in and be willing to lead them.

Individuals can vote in all elections, but frequently less that 10% vote in elections. They can also lobby, petition, run for office, speak freely, peacefully assemble. Non-citizens can do all these activities with the exception of running for and holding office. They also may not vote in state and national elections, but many can vote in local elections.

Steps in a Satyagraha Campaign

Satyagraha means peace-making and was a creation of Ghandi (1930). It s a process of mutual persuasion and heart-changing. It is a mediation process.
  1. Start with negotiation and arbitration. Make every effort to resolve conflict through existing channels. Never proceed to the next stage until the current stage fails.
  2. Prepare the group for direct action by examining motives and initiating exercises in self-disciplining.
  3. Use agitation and understand an active propaganda campaign together with demonstrations such as mass-meeting, parades, ad logan shouting.
  4. Issue an ultimatum which makes a strong appeal to the opponent explaining what further steps will be taken if no agreement is reached. ts wording should offer the widest scope for agreement, allowing for face-saving by the opponent, and should offer a constructive solution to the problem.
  5. Undertake economic boycott and forms of strike, possibly including picketing, demonstrations, education of the public, dharna...
  6. next one
  7. Undertake civil disobedience. Great care should be given to selection of laws to be contravened. This should be tied to the grievance or symbolic.
  8. Usurp the functions of government. Create substitute services and processes.
  9. Institute a parallel government.

We viewed the video "A Force More Powerful" published by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
This is an excellent description of the Satyagraha Campaign using the Nashville lunch counter sit-ins of 1960 as a case study. The video continues with additional case study descriptions of non-violent social action. We did not watch the remaining case studies.

Nevada We the People Institute (WtP)

This year's institute began with introductions of the staff. The Institute facilitators are Marcia Ellis and Mark Towell. The mentors for this year's Institute include:



Marcia Ellis







Mark Towell






Milt Hyams: One of the first participants in the We the People program in 1987 as a high school senior. He now teaches the WtP curriculum at Reed High School and acts as a mentor to others engaging in the program. His interest in the program is that it works with all levels of learners. Te program trains thinkers and citizens.



Kit McCormack: The WtP program was created by retired Justice Warren Berger. She started using the program because the books were in her classroom and used them for seven years before being trained in the program. She is currently the Teaching American History grant coordinator for Washoe County. She finds that the high school participants make great judges for the middle and elementary school programs.


Angela Orr: Learned about the program when dog sitting and "caught the bug" for the program when doing student teaching at Reed High School. She is currently a teacher at Damonte Ranch Middle/High School. She came to appreciate the program when she found that her ELL and special education students could be successful with the program. The children's excitement also led to parents being involved in the school.