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Frequently Asked Questions
What is We the People: Project Citizen?

We the People: Project Citizen is a curricular program for elementary, middle and high school students as well as youth groups that promotes competent and responsible participation in local and state government. The program helps young people learn how to monitor and influence public policy. In the process, they develop support for democratic values and principles, tolerance and feelings of political efficacy. 


Entire classes of students or members of youth organizations work cooperatively to identify a public policy problem in their community. They then research the problem, evaluate alternative solutions, develop their own solution in the form of a public policy and create a political action plan to enlist local or state authorities to adopt their proposed policy.

Participants develop a portfolio of their work and present their project in a hearing showcase before a panel of civic-minded community members.
The We the People curriculum is aligned with the National Standards for Civics and Government and correlates with the social studies standards of many states.
 
Who created the curriculum and where are they?
The Center for Civic Education (CCE) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational corporation dedicated to promoting an enlightened and responsible citizenry committed to democratic principles and actively engaged in the practice of democracy in the United States and other countries.
 
The Center specializes in civic/citizenship education, law-related education, and international educational exchange programs for developing democracies. Programs focus on the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights; American political traditions and institutions at the federal, state, and local levels; constitutionalism; civic participation; and the rights and responsibilities of citizens.
 
Today, the Center administers a wide range of critically acclaimed curricular, professional development, and community-based programs. The principal goals of the Center's programs are to help students develop (1) an increased understanding of the institutions of American constitutional democracy and the fundamental principles and values upon which they are founded, (2) the skills necessary to participate as effective and responsible citizens, and (3) the willingness to use democratic procedures for making decisions and managing conflict.
 
The Center's headquarters are in Calabasas, California, with an office in Washington, D.C. Since its origin in 1969, Center materials have been used in all fifty states and the District of Columbia, the trust territories, and in the following regions: Africa; East Asia, South Asia, and the Pacific; Eastern and Central Europe; Eurasia; Latin America and the Caribbean; the Near East; Southeastern Europe; and Western Europe.  The Center for Civic Education’s website can be found at www.civiced.org.
 
The trainings are free and the curriculum is free. Where do the funds come from?
Each state receives funds direct from the Center for Civic Education (CCE), CCE receives federal funds from the US Department of Education.  CCE takes these funds and divides the funding for all of the CCE programs and then the funding for each program is divided up for each state based on its congressional district size. In turn, the trainings and materials are made available to the schools and teachers at no cost.  The CCE supports the professional developments, the in-school hearings and the state showcase component.
 
What do teachers like most about the curriculum?
Teachers that have implemented the program were surveyed on what they liked most about the curriculum.  Teachers indicated that they liked the depth of understanding that it provides on public policy and the actual impact that their students can make on their community and/or school.  They were amazed as to how one program can actually empower students to make change. The information was presented in a simple way, so that students of all abilities can take something from it.  Teachers found that the information is very interesting and to the point. Teachers liked that sections tended to be short and they had good questions that required thought, analysis and application. Teachers liked being able to incorporate engaging activities from the curriculum and they liked that the activities were easily correlated to the state standards.
 
What do students like most about the curriculum?
Students enjoy that the curriculum engages all students of varying levels of understanding. They like that they get to integrate different skills from phone conversations, letter writing, drawing and web research all to produce the same outcome as a group. They like that not only are they learning a lot of material, but they can discuss it, and apply it to their lives today.
 
Do you have any evaluation of the program?
A recent study, conducted by the independent firm RMC Research Corporation, found that Project Citizen students gained significantly more in their knowledge of public policy than comparison students. Project Citizen students also demonstrated superior writing ability in articulating, researching, and advocating policy solutions in essays addressing public policy problems.  This study can be found at http://www.civiced.org/index.php?page=project_citizen_research
 
What classes can the curriculum be taught in?
Project Citizen can be taught in U.S. History, American Government, Government and Economics, American Government, Social Studies, English, Math, ESL, Special Education, Student Government, After-School Clubs, 4-H groups, YMCA, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Youth Groups, etc.
 
What costs are associated with implementing this program?
The set of thirty curricula, the teachers’ guide and additional resources are FREE. There are minimal costs associated with putting the culminating component together, a “portfolio and documentation binder.” However, teachers are reimbursed with the expenses incurred in putting these components together.
 
What does a state coordinator do? 
The state coordinator is responsible for all financial reports, the budget, the expenses, the professional development training schedule, conducting trainings, promoting the program at venues such as conferences for awareness, recruiting congressional district coordinators, training congressional district coordinators, working with the congressional district coordinators, hosting the state mock congressional hearing competition, continuing personal professional development by attending the conferences, making legislative contacts, documenting all activities and ensuring the overall success of the program in the state coordinator’s respective state.
 
Who is the state coordinator for South Carolina?
South Carolina has state coordinator Cynthia H. Cothran and she can be reached at (803) 252-5139 or by e-mail at ccothran@scbar.org.
 
What is a congressional district coordinator?
The congressional district coordinators are determined by the state coordinator.  The congressional district coordinator is an individual that has implemented at least one year of Project Citizen in their class, school, and/or community. The congressional district coordinator can be a retired or active teacher, curriculum coordinator, principal or professor. Easily this role is quite flexible and is determined by the state coordinator.
 
How does a teacher know which congressional district there school falls under?
Teachers can access the following link and type in their school’s zip code to determine their congressional district.  http://fastfacts.census.gov/servlet/CWSFacts?geo_id=04000US45&_sse=on 
 
What does a congressional district coordinator do?
Congressional district coordinators assist teachers that have questions when implementing the curriculum in their classrooms. Congressional district coordinators can be contacted via phone and/or e-mail.  A list of the congressional district coordinators and their contact information is as follows:

First Congressional District
Charleston, Georgetown and Horry Counties

 

Vacant - Refer to State Coordinator
Cynthia H. Cothran
South Carolina Bar - LRE Division
950 Taylor Street
Columbia, SC 29202
803-252-5139
ccothran@scbar.org

Second Congressional District
Aiken, Allendale, Barnwell, Beaufort, Calhoun, Colleton, Hampton, Jasper, Lexington, Orangeburg, Richland and Sumter Counties

 

Vacant - Refer to State Coordinator
Cynthia H. Cothran
South Carolina Bar - LRE Division
950 Taylor Street
Columbia, SC 29202
803-252-5139
ccothran@scbar.org

Third Congressional District
Abbeville, Anderson, Edgefield, Greenwood, Laurens, McCormick, Oconee, Pickens and Saluda Counties

 

Richard "Ricky" Simpson
687 Old Calhoun Falls Road
Abbeville, SC 29620
Home: (864) 446-2574
Work: (864) 366-5998
rsimpson@acsd.k12.sc.us

Fourth Congressional District
Greenville, Spartanburg and Union Counties

 

Vacant - Refer to State Coordinator
Cynthia H. Cothran
South Carolina Bar - LRE Division
950 Taylor Street
Columbia, SC 29202
803-252-5139
ccothran@scbar.org

Fifth Congressional District
Cherokee, Chester, Chesterfield, Darlington,  Dillon, Fairfield, Kershaw, Lancaster, Lee,  Newberry and York Counties

 

Arsonia Stroud
2573 York Highway
York, SC 29745
Home: 803-984-6763
Work: 803-684-1904
astroud@york.k12.sc.us

Sixth Congressional District
Bamberg, Berkeley, Calhoun, Clarendon, Colleton, Dorchester, Florence, Lee, Marion, Orangeburg, Richland, Sumter and Williamsburg Counties

 

Brandi Cook
212 Country Club Road
Marion, SC 29571
School: 843-423-2571
bcook@marion1.k12.sc.us

 
What are professional developments?
Professional developments vary in their appearance. They can be seen as in-service opportunities including, but not limited to, department meetings, conference presentations, day-long workshops, and study groups. Professional developments are provided for teachers that are interested in implementing Project Citizen. Professional developments can vary in times from one day, two days, three days or even a week-long institute in Clemson, South Carolina.  The length of time dedicated for a professional development can vary based on the schedule of the state coordinator, the audience the professional development is intended for, the size of the audience, space constraints, time of year, etc.  If the time is shorter than four hours, the time is definitely used more as a marketing tool with a more extensive professional development offered at a later date.

Can a school district or a school request on-site professional development trainings?
On-site professional development trainings can take place on site for a group of teachers, but it is at no charge.

Do teachers receive credit for professional development?
The South Carolina Bar’s Law Related Education Division provides attendees with certificates that indicate the number of instructional hours (11.5 hours over the course of two days) received as each school district handles professional development differently. 

Where are professional developments held?
Professional developments take place at varying locations in Columbia as Columbia serves as a nice mid-point for those traveling throughout the state. (Complimentary lodging is available to attendees traveling outside of a 40-mile radius when the training is two days or more.)

When are professional developments held?
Professional developments are held year round. The SC Bar Law Related Education Division announces trainings held year round via the teacher list serv as well as mail training catalogs to teachers annually.

How do you promote a professional development training?
A professional development training is promoted via mass mailings to all public and private schools statewide.  In addition to mass mailings, professional developments are promoted on e-mail listservs. 

How does a teacher sign up to be on the list serv to receive training announcements?
Teachers can e-mail lre@scbar.org and ask to be added to the teacher list serv. The teacher list serv not only announces upcoming trainings, but announces grants, provides lesson plans, and much more.

Is there a registration fee to attend a professional development?
There is no registration fee to attend a professional development.

Does the SC Bar cover expenses for substitutes?
The SC Bar does reimburse the school when a teacher attends a professional statewide development training. Should reimbursement for the substitute be requested, the attending teacher brings an invoice with them to the professional statewide training to submit for reimbursement.

What do attendees receive at a professional development training?
Training attendees receive hands-on resources including a complimentary sample of the curriculum and valuable information to take back to their classroom for implementation. They not only learn instructional information, but usually have in-classroom experiences in working through sample lessons, learning from experienced teaches that have implemented the curriculum, and participating in a simulated hearing as the culminating activity.  An attendee that travels more than a 40-mile radius receives complimentary lodging for professional developments that are two or more days. All attendees receive a complimentary lunch each day.  Upon completion of the training registration form provided at the training, all attendee receives a free classroom set of 30 textbooks, a teacher’s guide, and additional resources direct from the SC Bar Law Related education Division and the Center for Civic Education (CCE) mailed to their school’s physical address.

Are there summer institutes on Project Citizen?
There is a southeast regional Project Citizen Institute held each year in mid-July.  South Carolina has the proud honor of hosting the southeast regional Institute.  The Institute is FREE and includes transportation, lodging, meals and ample resources to include a FREE classroom set materials. Approximately 32 content hours are earned at the Institute.  The summer Institute starts mid-day on a Sunday and ends that following Friday at noon.

“This was the most rewarding, personally fulfilling professional development experience I’ve had in my fifteen years of teaching. In terms of content, organization, and the quality of the facilitators, the expression professional must be emphasized. There was just the right balance throughout the week between academic rigor and relaxation.”  ??"Institute Participant

Who can attend summer institutes?
Individuals that attend summer institutes are teachers that are teaching in the classroom.

How is the curriculum distributed?
Teachers that attend professional development automatically receive a complimentary set of thirty textbooks that are either distributed on-site at the training or shipped directly from the Center for Civic Education.

How long does it take to receive a classroom set of textbooks?
If the curriculum is shipped from the Center for Civic Education (located in California), it typically takes six to eight weeks.  Textbooks are not shipped during the summer to a school address unless sufficient information has been provided to indicate that the school is open during the summer months to receive the shipment.

What levels are available in the curriculum?
The curriculum is available for all levels from elementary to college.

How much is the curriculum?
The Project Citizen curriculum classroom sets are FREE.

Is there a teachers’ edition to compliment the student textbook?
Not only is there a teachers’ edition to compliment the student textbook, but the teachers’ guide includes additional narrative, worksheets, and activities.

Can teachers get a replacement set of curriculum with each new school year?
Teacher can get a replacement set of curriculum with each new school year.

How does a training attendee receive a classroom set of textbooks?
An attendee receives a classroom set of textbooks by completing the textbook registration form at the professional development training.  The state coordinators submit the textbook registration form to the Center for Civic Education and the request is processed. 

Can a teacher receive a classroom set if they are not teaching in the classroom?
A teacher can receive a sample textbook at the professional development training, but not a full classroom set of 30 textbooks. The Center for Civic Education really wants these textbooks in classrooms.

If a teacher teaches multiple classes of Project Citizen, can they get more than one set of the curriculum?
Teachers needing more than one set of the Project Citizen curriculum would need to consult with the state coordinators as a request for additional sets of materials is considered on a case by case basis.

Can the curriculum be taught in a block schedule?
The vast majority of the teachers surveyed that implement the curriculum typically implement the curriculum in every kind of schedule as it is such a flexible program to implement.

How much time needs to be blocked to teach Project Citizen?
Project Citizen can be taught in a week, a month, a quarter, a year, during homeroom, after school, etc.

Do the textbooks come in different languages other than English?
Yes. The textbook also comes in Spanish. 

How long does it take for an attendee to receive their set of classroom textbooks?
On average, it takes about six to seven weeks to receive the set of classroom textbooks. (If attendees attend professional development trainings during the summer, the Center for Civic Education will work to coordinate the shipment of the textbooks with the opening of the schools for the school year.)

Can a teacher purchase a classroom set of textbooks?
Additional textbooks can be purchased through the Center for Civic Education. Their website can be found at www.civiced.org.
       Level I (suggested grades 5-9)
                 Classroom Set of 30 with a teacher’s guide: $220.00
                  Individual Student Copy (soft cover): $11.00
                  Individual Teacher Copy (soft cover): $15.00

      Level II (suggested grades 8-12)
                Classroom Set of 30 with a teacher’s guide: $280.00
                 Individual Student Copy (soft cover): $12.50
                 Individual Teacher Copy (soft Cover): $15.00

Can a teacher receive a classroom set of textbooks without attending a training?
Teachers can only receive a classroom set of textbooks without attending a training if they are requesting a replacement set of textbooks.  Teachers are required to attend a training in order to adequately and efficiently use the materials without proper foundation and education on the program.

If a teacher changes schools, do the textbooks stay at the school or go with the teacher?
If the teacher changes schools, the textbooks go with the teacher. The teacher is the one who received the training, so the textbooks belong to the teacher.

What if a teacher changes states, can they still do Project Citizen?
If a teachers changes states, Project Citizen is in every state.

Is the curriculum at all the levels correlated to the state standards?
Each level of the curriculum is correlated to the state English language arts, math, science and social studies standards. Copies of the correlations are distributed at professional development trainings and they are also available on the website under the program information found under the Project Citizen program section at http://www.scbar.org/public_services/law_related_education/pc/.

Why would a teacher want the curriculum correlated to the standards?
A teacher would want the curriculum correlated, because sometimes a teacher has a difficult time bringing a new curriculum into the classroom. Principals and school districts require that teachers teach specific standards throughout the school year. If a teacher can show that Project Citizen teaches the required standards, the more likely the program can be implemented in that school.

Can a teacher meet the state standards and still use this curriculum?
The Project Citizen curriculum can be taught in the classroom and state standards will still be met. The correlations provided at each level of the curriculum is broken down by section for easy understanding.

What is a showcase?
A showcase is an opportunity for all the schools and youth organizations that have implemented Project Citizen to showcase or display their portfolios in a school or community setting. Portfolios and documentation binders are judged by community members that serve as judges/evaluators of their work.

What does a showcase look like?
A showcase looks like a large room or big corridors/hallways filled with tables displaying the portfolio and documentation binder from each school.  There will be judging materials available at a registration desk or available in front of each portfolio and documentation binder.  Forms used to evaluate the showcase are provided in the training materials.

What is an in-school “simulated“ hearing?
A in-school simulated hearing is an opportunity for all the schools and youth organizations that have implemented Project Citizen to have the youth present their portfolios visually and orally to community members that serve as judges/evaluators of their work.  The purpose of the simulated hearing (the oral component) is to teach students to present and defend reasoned opinions related to influencing public policy decision-making in their communities.  All students receive certificates of completion for their work in Project Citizen.

What does an in-school hearing look like?
For the simulated hearing, the class (or members of a youth organization) is subdivided into four groups; one group for each section of the portfolio. Each group makes a prepared four-minute presentation and then the group responds to six minutes of follow-up questions posed by the judges. At the conclusion of all four group’s presentations, the judges provide constructive feedback.  Forms used to evaluate the simulated hearing are provided in the training materials.

Where is an in-school hearing held?
An in-school hearing is scheduled with the state coordinator Cynthia H. Cothran at (803) 252-5139 or ccothran@scbar.org.  These hearings are conducted in the classroom that Project Citizen was implemented in during the school year. The teacher provides possible dates and the scoring judges come to the students. By having judges come to the school during regularly rostered class periods removes the need for field trips and disruption to the school schedule. If the school has several classes participating in a simulated hearing, only one entry will represent the school and move onto the state showcase competition.

What happens if a teacher implements Project Citizen with more than one class? 
In school hearings are not limited to just one class. All classes can present an in-school hearing in their regularly scheduled class time. However, only one class will represent their school at the state showcase.

When is an in-school hearing conducted?
A simulated hearing is conducted in each school at the convenience of the teacher and students. For example, students have completed their project in the fall, then the in-school hearing is scheduled in the fall during that class period at that school.  All in-school hearings need to be completed by the first two weeks in April to be eligible to compete in the state showcase.  Schools can still have in-school hearings after mid-April, but will not be eligible for the state showcase.  The most important thing is that the students have the opportunity to go through the entire process from discovering the problem to presenting their work.

Who judges the in-school hearings?
Two judges for the in-school hearing come from the South Carolina Bar. The third judge is a member of the school’s administration, i.e. Principal, Assistant Principal, Superintendent, etc.  The third judge is identified prior to the in-school hearing takes place to receive background information about Project Citizen and how to judge the students’ work.

Who qualifies to enter a showcase?
Any school that has implemented one Project Citizen entry automatically qualifies to enter a showcase. If a school has several class entries, the school will participate in a simulated hearing on-site at their school to narrow down the entries to one entry representing their school.

Can a school participate in an in-school hearing and not in a showcase?
A school can participate in an in-school hearing and not in a showcase. The school should contact the South Carolina Bar Law Related Education Division to set up a convenient date and time that works for the class and teacher.

Where is a showcase held?
A showcase location rotates between the South Carolina Bar in Columbia, South Carolina and the Strom Thurmond Public Policy Institute at Clemson University.

Who attends a showcase?
A showcase is only attended by scoring judges that will judge the entries that have been submitted.  Teachers and students do not attend a showcase, because students have participated in the in-school hearing.

When is a showcase?
A showcase is typically held mid April.

What happens after the showcase?
After the showcase, the winners of each level (elementary, middle and high school) are announced via press releases in their local papers. Meanwhile, all teachers are notified of the winning schools with each level.  The winner of each level has a celebration luncheon at their school with awards presented to each student.  At this time, there is only a national showcase set up for the middle school level while the state showcase allows all levels to participate.  The winning portfolio and documentation binder of the middle school level is forwarded to the national showcase.  

How is a showcase judged?
A showcase is judged by inviting community members to judge the portfolio and documentation binder. Community members could include government officials, mayors, attorneys, professors and special invitations extended to persons from the topic areas addressed in the projects, e.g. a person from the State Department of Transportation could be invited if a school submitted a portfolio on traffic congestion.

Do the students of the state winning class get to go to the national showcase?
CCE has a creative way of allowing some students to travel to the national showcase. The United States is divided into five regions and one state is selected from each of the five regions to attend the national showcase. Only states that have not been selected to attend the national showcase are in the drawing. Once all states have participated, all states go back into the drawing for another chance to attend the national showcase. If a state is selected to attend the national showcase, eight students (4 boys and 4 girls with one male chaperone and one female chaperone) can accompany their portfolio and documentation binder to the state where the national showcase is being held that year. This entire trip is funded by the Center for Civic Education to include transportation, lodging, meals and some planned field trips.