News

Cook-Kallio warns Senate bill could eliminate high schools' We the People program

Urges supporters to call, email Feinstein, Boxer to urge defeat of Sen. Coburn measure

Just as East Bay high school "We the People" competition civics teams are preparing for rehearsals tonight at Mission San Jose High School in Fremont, a Congressional amendment is being considered that would strip federal funds that have been a mainstay of this national competition.

Pleasanton Councilwoman Cheryl Cook-Kallio, who teaches advanced placement U.S. History and AP U.S. Government classes at Irvington High School in Fremont, warned that the bill under consideration could effectively eliminate the program across the country.

The annual "We the People: The citizen and the Constitution" is considered one of the country's most prestigious academic competitions for high schools. It focuses on the nation's Constitution with panels of judges fielding questions and listening to presentations from students on how current issues relate to the 219-year-old document.

Since 2000, Cook-Kallio has coached Irvington High's We the People team. Irvington has been a California state finalist each year and won the state championship in 2005. Amador Valley High School in Pleasanton, which along with Foothill High's We the People team will be at tonight's rehearsal, also has won the state championship several times and won the national competition in 1995.

Cook-Kallio's message to supporters follows:

"On Monday, Nov. 22, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) will introduce an amendment to ban earmarks in FY11, FY12, and FY13 for the following programs - the Center for Civic Education's We the People and other programs, Teach for America, National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, Close Up, Communities in Schools, VSA, National Writing Project, Project GRAD, National History Day, Reach Out and Read, Reading Is Fundamental, and New Leaders for New Schools.

Without delay, please call both your Senators' offices and ask to speak with the education appropriations staff person. Identify yourself as a constituent. Urge the Senator to vote No on the Coburn amendment. If you can't get the person on the phone leave a voice mail message. If you can't leave a voice mail message leave the message with the receptionist. To reach your Senate offices you can call the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121.

Also, send an email to the Senator's general email address which can be found on his or her website. You can get to your Senator's website through www.senate.gov. Urge the Senator to vote NO on the Coburn amendment.

Our friends in the Senate say if there is not enough opposition to this amendment on Monday it might pass and the above programs will be eliminated. Your help is crucial. Also, please ask family, friends, and as many other supporters of the program as you can to help."

Comments

Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 22, 2010 at 9:24 am

And people said that electing the GOP was a good thing? At least here in California we still have McNerney and Boxer. At least it was just the House taken over by the backwards folks of the GOP. Harmer, Fiorina, do you now see why you lost? Your party is a bad thing for everyone. Democrats may not be doing a good job, but the GOP can only make things worse, especially because we now have the extreme right wing running the show (as far as the GOP is concerned).


Like this comment
Posted by Dark Corners of Town
a resident of Country Fair
on Nov 22, 2010 at 10:10 am

It was President Obama who proposed to eliminate the earmark for Teach for America (Web Link).


Like this comment
Posted by Dark Corners of Town
a resident of Country Fair
on Nov 22, 2010 at 10:13 am

And the recent earmark growth in these programs in the last decade came under the Bush Administration (Web Link).


Like this comment
Posted by Dark Corners of Town
a resident of Country Fair
on Nov 22, 2010 at 10:31 am

We the People, is listed as a "noncompetitive grant, direct earmark" on the Dept. of Education website (Web Link).


Like this comment
Posted by Dark Corners of Town
a resident of Country Fair
on Nov 22, 2010 at 10:57 am

USAToday (Web Link) reports the Center for Civic Education misspent or failed to justify $5.9M in funds.
The full audit by the Office of Inspector General is here (Web Link)


Like this comment
Posted by Dark Corners of Town
a resident of Country Fair
on Nov 22, 2010 at 11:00 am

And looks like President Obama proposed to 'slash it' (Web Link).
Cleaning up 'the swamp' Pelosi couldn't do is a good thing.


Like this comment
Posted by observation
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 22, 2010 at 12:28 pm

Your use of the term "earmark" leaders me to believe that you think earmarks are a serious problem or that we could make progress on significantly reducing the deficit by eliminating earmarks. You don't think that do you? You do realize that "earmarks" are tiny fraction of federal spending, and that the bulk of spending goes to Medicare, Social Security, interest on the debt, and defense? We need to attack these programs if we are to make any progress on the budget. Earmarks can be safely ignored. Obama would do well to ignore them and to concentrate on cutting Medicare, Social Security, and defense. We don't have the time or money to waste on hunting down small expenses like these.


Like this comment
Posted by Concerned
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 22, 2010 at 1:03 pm

Maybe we are spending too much time and money on "We the people". Congress has become a joke anyway. Why bother with all the civics stuff? Learn more math,science and engineering so that we can compete with the Chinese and Indians. We don't need to train more lawyer and politician wannabees that add to the overhead without adding any true value.


Like this comment
Posted by Mr Cranky
a resident of Downtown
on Nov 22, 2010 at 2:33 pm

What's the problem with the "We The People Program" being self-funded? Sports programs, music programs, art programs - they've all gone to this model to one degree or another throughout the country. Why should this program be raised above all others?


Like this comment
Posted by Cheryl Cook-Kallio
a resident of Jensen Tract
on Nov 22, 2010 at 5:09 pm

There seems to be some confusion. The Center for Civic Education along with a number of other programs like Teach for America and Reading is Fundamental (among others) are targets of the Coburn amendment. These programs are available to every congressional district in America are not earmarks in the traditional sense, despite the misuse of the term by the Department of Education.

The competitive part of We the People is funded by parents or by direct fundraising. School district dollars do not pay for travel or room and board costs for either Fremont or Pleasanton. This is typical throughout the country.

The CURRICULAR aspect of the We the People program is funded by tax dollars like all curricular programs for public schools, (whether it be state or federal money). The difference here is that it is available to any school including private secular and parochial schools and home schoolers. Many schools use the curriculum at the elementary, middle school and high school level and choose not to participate in competitive hearings.

The purpose of the program is to provide a foundation in constitutionalism and its application to current day. It is designed to create educated participatory citizens and is nonpartisan in its approach.

It was developed as part of the celebration of the Bicentennial and the Constitution and then the Bicentennial of the Bill of Rights and has been active for over 20 years.

To think that eliminating this very effective program will save us money is short sited. What we need is generations of educated citizens who can participate in civil discourse. I have been teaching for 33 years and have never seen a program at any level that has produced so many young people across the political spectrum who understand the rights and responsibilities of what it is to be a citizen in the United States of America and then also particpate. All of the founders knew that democracy depended on education.

I invite you to see the competitive program in action. The first round of congressional hearings for Amador Valley, Foothill and Irvington High School will take place at Mission San Jose High School in Fremont on Monday November 29th beginning at 6:30 pm.


Like this comment
Posted by Layed Off
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 22, 2010 at 6:45 pm

Self Fund. Like I suggested. Offer up your City Council check. Last I heard you each receive an extra $100.00 for each Committee you serve on. It's extra money. Donate to your students cause. Better yet, since Cook/Kalio favors the Unions and Democrats so much, ask tham to donate.


Like this comment
Posted by Johnny
a resident of Del Prado
on Nov 22, 2010 at 8:24 pm

Cook Kallio,

You seem not to understand that we are hurting and not willing to give anymore when we have nothing left. Our taxes are to high already and many of us, like me, have taken huge pay cuts. We need our government to reduce programs like this and not to continue them. Please write to our elected officials to stop all of this unnecessary spending.


Like this comment
Posted by observation
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 22, 2010 at 9:58 pm

Hey Johnny, Layed Off, and the rest,

Cutting programs like this is not the answer. Even if we cut _all_ earmarks we will have a huge deficit. We should be boosting spending on programs like this. Earmarks are a tiny part of the budget. Where we need to be cutting is Medicare, Social Security, and defense. That is where the bulk of the taxes are spent, and these programs are bloated and out of hand. 3% cuts in each of these would free up well over $100 billion annually.

If anything program needs to think about self-funding it is the Medicare "drug" benefit. We got along fine all these without it. It is time for some belt-tightening. Enough is enough. Leave worthy programs like "We the People" alone. Cut Medicare and defense.


Like this comment
Posted by Rick
a resident of another community
on Nov 23, 2010 at 4:49 am

Here is a review of the 2010 earmarks as constructed by Taxpayers for Common Sense.


Like this comment
Posted by Rick
a resident of another community
on Nov 23, 2010 at 4:53 am

Here is the fully analyzed 2009 earmarks database; California listings are here:
Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by observation
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 23, 2010 at 7:50 am

Hey Rick,

Earmarks aren't the problem. It is social security, medicare and defense. Those programs, along with interest on the debt, make up the bulk of federal spending. If we want to get serious about the budget, we need to cut those programs. Earmarks are a negligible part of the budget, and some are worthy programs.


Like this comment
Posted by Dark Corners of Town
a resident of Country Fair
on Nov 23, 2010 at 9:23 am

If these earmark programs are indeed 'worthy', then let them be part of the formal departmental appropriations process and compete for the priorities and funding along with the rest of government. That's what Secretary of Education Duncan proposes.
And Cheryl, the Coburn amendment does not 'target' the Center for Civic Education. In fact, the amendment (Web Link) does not name a single one of the thousands of earmarks. It is a three year moratorium on an out of control process. The Department of Education can choose to set up a competitive bid for this program, and the We The People will continue.


Like this comment
Posted by Dark Corners of Town
a resident of Country Fair
on Nov 23, 2010 at 9:37 am

Was wondering if Cheryl or The Weekly or anyone knew whether the US Senate was even in session on Monday November 22 for Senator Coburn to introduce the amendment and call for a vote? Or was 'copy and paste from a political alert feed' what really happened.


Like this comment
Posted by observation
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 23, 2010 at 9:51 am

"part of the formal departmental appropriations process and compete for the priorities and funding along with the rest of government."

Oh, so that's the way funding for Medicare, Social Security, and the entire defense budget works? All spending in these programs goes through "formal departmental appropriations process and compete for the priorities and funding along with the rest of government."

Please enlighten us.


Like this comment
Posted by Johnny
a resident of Del Prado
on Nov 23, 2010 at 10:49 am

Observation,

I never said anything about earmarks only about spending. This is not needed and is just one of many things which need to be cut. Everyone wants to cut spending just not their pet projects. Everything needs to be cut and that is just the facts of life.


Like this comment
Posted by Sabrina
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 23, 2010 at 11:21 am

I'll tell you how we in Pleasanton could save money - vote out Cook-Kalio and her two cohorts in loonism on the City Council. Oops, we just had that opportunity and blew it.


Like this comment
Posted by observation
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 23, 2010 at 12:04 pm

" Everything needs to be cut and that is just the facts of life."

Rubbish. Some things need cuts, others increases, and others should stay flat. The US was stupid to cut basic scientific R & D spending while increasing spending on prescription drugs for Medicare. We need to restore sanity. Enough is enough.


Like this comment
Posted by Cheryl Cook-Kallio
a resident of Jensen Tract
on Nov 23, 2010 at 9:15 pm

The vote was scheduled for Monday November 22, and then rescheduled for Monday November 29. As I said, We the People is one of a number of extremely important educational programs that are targeted. This is a penny wise, pound foolish approach.

I again would like to invite people to see this program in action, Monday November 29 at Mission San Jose High School in Fremont starting at 6:30. Any parent who has had a child go through this program knows it is a life changing experience. It is affirming to see how well these students know the Constitution and its current day application.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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