Pleasanton Weekly

News - February 12, 2010

Amador Valley finishes 2nd, Foothill 3rd in statewide 'We the People' competition

Arcadia High new California champion after series of Amador wins

by Jeb Bing

Amador Valley High School and Foothill High School took second and fourth places in the state finals in Sacramento of the 2010 "We the People" competition.

Arcadia (Calif.) High School captured first place with Irvington High School in Fremont coming in third. Centennial High in Bakersfield finished fifth.

Amador won in the statewide competition last year, the eighth year that Amador competition civics teams had won state championships and competed in the national contest. The school fielded teams in the nationals in 1992, 1994, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008 and last year. In 1995, Amador won the national championship.

The Irvington High "We the People" team, coached by history teacher and Pleasanton City Councilwoman Cheryl Cook-Kallio, has finished first, third and fourth in previous state competitions.

More than 300 students from 12 California high schools participated in the academic competition last Friday, which tested their knowledge of the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. Arcadia High School now advances to the We the People National Finals, to be held starting April 24 in Washington, D.C.

Kari Coppinger, spokeswoman for the program, said students demonstrated their understanding of the Constitution before a simulated congressional committee consisting of constitutional scholars, lawyers, civic educators and government leaders who judged the classes' performances. The judges tested the students' comprehension of the six units of the "We the People: The Citizen & the Constitution" text.

The winning school was recognized at an awards banquet in Sacramento, where other participating schools also were honored for their achievements.

Awards were being presented to the schools with the highest non-finalist score in each of the six units of the text.

* Unit 1 (The Philosophical and Historical Foundations of the American Political System): Galileo Academy of Science & Technology, San Francisco;

* Unit 2 (How the Framers Created the Constitution): Calvin Christian High School, Escondido

* Unit 3 (How Changes in the Constitution Have Furthered the Ideals of the Declaration of Independence): Martin Luther King Jr. High School, Riverside;

* Unit 4 (How the Values and Principles Embodied in the Constitution Shaped American Institutions and Practices): Foothill High School, Bakersfield;

* Unit 5 (The Rights That the Bill of Rights Protects): Monta Vista High School, Cupertino, and,

* Unit 6 (Twenty-first Century Challenges to American Constitutional Democracy): Arvin High School, Arvin

Implemented nationwide in upper elementary, middle and high schools, the We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution program has reached more than 30 million students and 81,000 teachers since its inception in 1987, Coppinger said. The program is funded by the U.S. Department of Education under the Education for Democracy Act approved by Congress and directed by the Center for Civic Education.

According to Coppinger, independent research shows that high school students who participated in the We the People program scored significantly higher on a test of political knowledge than their peers. We the People classes scored 30 percent higher than matched comparison government classes on a comprehensive test that measured understanding of core values and principles of democracy, constitutional limits on governmental institutions, and the rights and responsibilities of citizenship.

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