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."