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Congress Prepared to Cut Funding to We The People Programs

Original post made by Keldon Clegg, Amador Valley High School, on Mar 13, 2011

Greetings Community Members,

As of this moment Congress has excluded several civic education programs run by the federal government including the CloseUp Program that takes students to Washington D.C. to explore government, Teach for America which trains young college graduates how to teach in high need areas of the country as well as the We The People: The Citizen & The Constitution competition civics program. We need community members to take action to prevent these cuts!

In 2001 I graduated from Amador Valley High School and participated in the We The People program. Today I am the coach of the Amador Valley program that is heading to nationals in under two months. For the past ten years I have seen the We The People program transform students lives and create a sense of civic community and responsibility. Elimination of the program means Pleasanton loses a legacy at BOTH its high schools! Our Community of Character will suffer a loss with a nation-wide civic education program missing from our town.

Please contact your representative IMMEDIATELY and urge them to reinstate the funding for the Education for Democracy Act (Elementary and Secondary Education Act, sections 2341-2346), which provides support to We the People and dozens of other civic education programs benefiting millions of students each year.

* Tell them about what We the People meant to you.
* Explain to them that funding for nationwide programs like We the People (and Teach for America and Close Up and...) is not an earmark. A few senators seem to get this --Web Link
* Explain that these programs benefit millions of students, in EVERY CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT, and have enjoyed widespread bipartisan support for years and years.
* Plead with them to not throw the baby out with the bathwater in the current tidal wave of spending cuts sweeping Washington.
* Remind them of their prior support for civic education.
* Explain that although the amount of money it takes to fund the Education for Democracy Act programs is miniscule (<$40 million), the impact on students is immeasurable.
* Urge them to reinstate funding for the Education for Democracy Act

I know We the People changed your life. Now, it's your turn.

You can find contact numbers and addresses on a little thing called the Internet or you can call the Capitol Switchboard at (202 ) 224-3121.

And to make it real easy for you, here's a note I just sent my senators, which you are free to adopt to your needs:

Dear Senator ________"

Thank you very much for your response and ongoing support of Civic Education. Although the defeat of the Coburn Amendment in the Fall and the current Continuing Resolution has temporarily preserved funding for the Education for Democracy Act (Elementary and Secondary Education Act, sections 2341-2346) and the various civic education programs it supports (including Teach for America, Close Up, and We the People), these programs are again at risk. And I am again asking for your support and assistance.

For reasons that defy reasonable explanation, the Education for Democracy Act, which provides funding to various congressionally authorized, national educational programs is classified as an earmark and thus has again been eliminated in the GOP's most recent budget proposal. As Senator Landrieu (and eleven other Senators) noted in their March 1st letter to the Appropriations Committee, the Education for Democracy Act and the national programs it supports are fundamentally different than congressionally-directed spending items directed at a specific state, region, or congressional district. The Education for Democracy Act is not an earmark. Successful, nationwide programs benefiting millions of students like Teach for America or We the People are simply not the "earmarks" even the most strident fiscal conservatives have in mind when they pledge to cut waste.

With this in mind, I once again urge you to continue your support for civic education by working with your colleagues to ensure that any budget passed and any future "earmark reform" does not throw the baby out with the bathwater, by thoughtlessly cutting funding through the Education for Democracy Act to dozens of successful, national civic education programs, for which there has been widespread bipartisan support for decades.

The We the People program changed my life fifteen years ago. It, quite simply, made me who I am today. The civic education programs supported by the Education for Democracy Act have benefited millions of students and are simply too important to get swept up in petty politics. We need your help.

Thank you again for your ongoing support of civic education and service to our state and country. Please let me know if you have any questions or if there is anything I can do to assist your efforts on this important issue.




Phone Number

Comments (40)

Posted by Keldon Clegg
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Mar 13, 2011 at 12:05 am

At this point the WTP program will run out of funding by September 2011 and the May National Competition is set to be the last. Please help us keep this program and the civic virtue that comes from it.

For those who might see this as "just another earmark" please see the letter mentioned above by Senator Landrieu at:
Web Link

Posted by Ben Glickman
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Mar 13, 2011 at 9:32 am

We the People changed my life. It's as simple as that. Any and all academic, personal, or professional success I've enjoyed can, in some way, be traced to my participation in Amador Valley High School's We the People program 16 years ago.

We the People taught me the history of our country and our Constitution. It taught me how our government works. And how it might work better. We the People taught me constitutional law and political philosophy. Even more importantly, it taught me how to learn. How to think. How to work on a team. How to be a friend. How to speak in public. How to listen. How to write. How to take constructive criticism. How to give it. How to believe in myself. How to rely on others. How to compete with dignity. How to . . . you name it.

We the People taught me more than any other class I've taken—in high school, college, and law school. We the People taught me that our government serves—and responds to—the People. We the People taught me that writing Congress isn't a futile gesture. We the People taught me that citizens—of all ages, from anywhere—can shape national policy. We the People taught me to believe in this country.

We the People has shaped the lives of hundreds of Pleasanton high school students (and, I might say, their parents). It's time for Pleasanton to help shape the life of We the People. Contact your representatives NOW. More importantly, contact your friends and family in other states or political office or GOP-controlled districts or who have political connections and urge them to do the same. Time is running out. Thank you.

Posted by Pete
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 13, 2011 at 9:52 am

"It's time for Pleasanton to help shape the life of We the People." Taught me... is all I here! "We the People" when has this program ever been promoted to Community living rooms? If you don't get be it.

Posted by not enough money for everything
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 13, 2011 at 10:14 am

I guess it comes down to should Congress continue to fund vacations to DC for a select few people and cut something else or do those parents who have kids need to support these outside activities with their own fundraising? As a non-parent who already pays more than my fair share of taxes to educate everyone elses kids, I cannot justify cutting other programs to spare this elite opportunity for a few kids. Those of you who got so much out of it might start doing fundraising to save it, pass along the benefits of what we taxpayers already funded for you.

Posted by Spring Chicken
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 13, 2011 at 10:29 am

I guess we can couch continuing government spending in ribbons and bows that make entitlements sound critical to basic life. The problem is that every single person on the government dole is saying the same thing. There is not one person who says, "You know my job is useless. I don't work that hard. I get paid as well or better than the private sector. My work benefits the world at large ... believe I know. I'm a government worker."

Aside from the oxymoron, we have to begin making hard choices about government spending. I hear your pleas, but I don't see the difference in your entitlement than anyone else that works in government.

Posted by AVHS WTP member '11
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Mar 13, 2011 at 10:57 am

Respectfully (sir/ma'am), the point of the program is not to go to DC. It is to promote an "enlightened and responsible citizenry committed to democratic principles and actively engaged in the practice of democracy in the United States." Did you know that We The People is not just a high school level program? 5th and 8th graders have their own levels too (these being noncompetitive hearings). I feel that to say that the point of We The People is to fund a vacation to DC for a select few participants is missing the overall goal of the program, to teach the youth to care about the government around them and give them the efficacy to potentially use or change that government.

Personally, I almost didn't do We The People and retrospectively it would have been a huge blunder on my part. This program has taught me that it is my duty as a citizen to participate in government through all available channels (jury duty, voting, etc.). It has boosted my life skills in areas like communication, critical thinking, and group work. Most of all, it has showed me that yes, one person CAN make a difference. Before I was a part of We The People, I probably couldn't have been less apathetic about the program. But after being a part of the program, I don't see it as "just another earmark". It's definitely a program worth saving. Thank You.

Posted by Stefan
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Mar 13, 2011 at 11:11 am

I would like to respectfully disagree with the Glenn Beck type of response before mine. There's a difference between cutting spending from food and aid to low income pregnant women and from the civic education that fosters our future generation's civic participation. I think Congress can better allocate their money, and that does not mean simply giving a "vacation" to a few elite students to DC, it's providing a rewarding opportunity you apparently have never experienced yourself! Funding We the People is not going to raise your taxes anymore, correct me if I am wrong.

Anyways, this program has "taught me this taught me that yada yada yada". People need to understand that kids don't simply learn about government in this class; they rather develop an educated opinion about government. It encourages kids not only to vote, study politics, participate in jury duty; it moreover encourages a population of people who actually understand why we vote, why we pay taxes, why we participate in jury duty. There are so many things we take for granted in this nation, and in the end we always complain. Complain about why we pay high taxes. Complain about why our president is black. The list goes on. We the People helps us value the government, and I guarantee very few people value each and every day the liberties and freedoms our founding fathers constituted for us.

I truly care about this program, and not simply because I know more about the constitution than Bill O'Reilly. My teammates at the start of this year were your stereotypical California Liberal Democrats praising Obama and your stereotypical California tax-free Conservative Republicans praising Fox. Through this program, we have developed educated opinions about how we think as a nation, as a state, and as individual persons. Being able to understand others is something our government yearns, and this trait is only developed as children and as teens when we are in compulsory environments like school.

We the People has taught me more than I ever expected. It has done so in a fun environment with teammates and a coach who I now all value as my second family. Changing our nation starts with our younger generations, and this is without a doubt, the single best program to prepare our generation for the world before us.

Posted by Ben Glickman
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Mar 13, 2011 at 11:18 am

I knew I could count on a Pleasanton Weekly forum to devolve into utter nonsense. Within an hour, no less. Congressional funding for We the People does not pay for anyone's trip to DC. The schools pay their own way, as Amador is currently trying to raise the funds for its upcoming trip. The federal funding pays for course materials, teacher training, etc. Nor is We the People an "entitlement" in any sense of the term. Nor will cutting education funding (or any discretionary spending short of fundamental Medicare or Social Security reform) reduce anyone's taxes (or the deficit). But that's all really beside the point, as I suspect you're not all that interested in the facts. If you are unable to see the difference between allocating roughly $45 million to civic education programs like We the People, Teach for America, etc., which benefit millions of students in EVERY congressional district and an earmark for $45 million to fund a bridge to nowhere or some other congressperson's pet project in their hometown, there's really no sense in further discussion.

Posted by Pete
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 13, 2011 at 12:16 pm

Ben, how do you comprehend utter nonsense, when good listening is not passing judgement? Didn't John Casey say that if Pleasanton's attempt to assist reforming education, in a way to involve the whole Community... no one can. Something to that effect is what was understood by me. Reviewing your response, contradicts your initial posting. You can't see that? I agree with much with what you say...ask others to share their experiences with the Community. There must be hundreds of past students who feel as you do.

Posted by Emily
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Mar 13, 2011 at 12:32 pm

We the People is more than a class. We the People is more than just a vacation to DC. As an Amador Valley student preparing for Nationals Competition in DC, I could care less about the trip. What is really the most important to me, is how much I care about being a good citizen now. Before I was involved in We the People, I never watched the news, I listened to talk radio and had no idea what was going on, and I didn't care about protests and rallys happening/ However, after participating in We the People, I have gone to a Tea Party Rally in Pleasanton, and countered that with an Anti Gang Injunction Rally in Oakland. I would never have gone to either of these without being involved in this life changing program. I also agree with Stefan, that WTP gives me an educated opinion on political issues; that's what we do! We learn history and modern government, and analyze it to develop what we think will best progress America. Fostering civic education at an early age leads to great political leaders in the future, making educated decicions about the future of our country. This program has created civically educated and involved students. We the people is more than about going to Nationals, or to competitions, it is about being educated about government and seeing our government in a new perspective.

So please, contact our congressmen to SAVE WE THE PEOPLE!!!

Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Mar 13, 2011 at 12:34 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

These kids come out of the program knowing way more about our government than most citizens, elected officials included, and they are ready to engage and participate at a high level of awareness when they become of voting age.

"We the People" is not an entitlement program nor is it an earmark. It is an investment for raising the quality of our leaders of the next generation, for increasing the health of our democracy.

Posted by Ben Glickman
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Mar 13, 2011 at 12:41 pm

Point taken, Pete. However, I will not (and indeed cannot) engage with the reactionary, unsupported, and unsupportable views of so many PW regulars -- e.g., all federal spending is bad, civic education funding is an "entitlement," We the People is about a free vacation to DC, reinstating $45 million in funding will affect my taxes (or cutting all federal support of education somehow won't). Everyone's entitled to their opinion, but facts are facts. So, yes, I think "utter nonsense" was a fair and apt description.

As for your repeated references to community involvement, I'm not sure what you mean. Involving the community is precisely what We the People (and this forum topic) is all about. WTP students volunteer in their communities, mentor and teach kids at elementary schools, participate in local government, etc. I (and many other members of the community) volunteer to assist local WTP classes. Competitions are judged by members of the community.

When Amador won the WTP National Championship in 1995, 1000's of community members lined Main Street to welcome the class home and celebrate its achievement. It was a great moment for the city and the very definition of community. I fear Pleasanton has lost some of that in the past 16 years, and that's a shame. We the People has had a positive income on hundreds of students at both high schools in this town over the past 20 years. How any member of this community would deny that or would argue against preserving the program for future generations is truly beyond me.

Posted by Ben Glickman
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Mar 13, 2011 at 12:43 pm

EDIT: positive IMPACT, not positive income

Posted by Ting
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Mar 13, 2011 at 1:27 pm

We the People plays a huge role in getting students participating in the community. Because of this program, students like me are WILLING to participate in community services such as youth court and rallies. It's disheartening when I hear the students around me say that community service is worthless and that they would be rather be doing something else. I believe that the We the People program has the ability to transform the values of these students who abhor the idea of serving their communities. The We the People program itself is a form of community service, and I agree that maybe not enough students are being exposed to this program. However, the idea of eliminating this program completely seems detrimental; are you suggesting, Pete, that having a small group of civic-minded students is worse then having none at all? If we leave the program intact, our community can choose to fight for the expansion this program so that even middle schools can be exposed to this type of civic education. In order to enact any change in a society, civic education is a fundamental first step in enacting this change. We the People plays a huge role in developing our own views on politics, creating a well-informed citizenry, and truly changing our lives. Please don't deny this extremely valuable experience to our future generations because they would have the political capabilities to enact positive change in our communities.

Posted by Molly
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Mar 13, 2011 at 1:28 pm

I agree with my fellow team members and coaches. This may sound redundant now, but We The People truly does change lives. While at first it was a government class, it later became a lifestyle. You build bonds with your own teammates, but people from the other teams as well. One of the most important thing I learned from State Competition in Sacramento was that everyone there is just like me. We ALL want to learn, we ALL want to better ourselves and our community, and most of all we ALL want to have fun. It may seem like a rivalry competition between the schools in California, but its truly an experience that fosters so much more than just winning.

To echo a post before mine, I too did not almost do We The People. That would have been the biggest mistake of my life. I've learned countless of skills, and among these are how to form and state an opinion, how to work as a team, etc. I am so grateful for the opportunity I have been given to be on this team, and to not be able to share what I've learned and work with a new team next year is devastating. The community and legacy that comprise of past teams will end this year if the Education for Democracy Act is not reinstated. Education comes from the community, and that is one of the best things we have going in Pleasanton.

Please contact your Congressmen to save this wonderful program.

Posted by a teacher
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 13, 2011 at 1:37 pm

The WTP program is just one aspect of the Education for Democracy Act. In this region we see the competition part of We the People. There are many classes that use the curriculum that choose not to compete. It is also offered to students at risk, private school and home schoolers. It is a terrific curriculum that is available to elementary, middle schools and high schools. In addition it encompasses Project Citizen and Representative Democracy in Action. All programs that are offered to every student in the country. Staff development and training for teachers goes along with this. Education for Democracy Act funds other programs too.

At a time when people complain about the lack of civic education, to cut a program like this is uncomprehensible. When is the last time you read the Constitution of the United States? Have you EVER read it. Wouldn't it be nice if every citizen DID read it.

"It's time for Pleasanton to help shape the life of We the People." Taught me... is all I here! "We the People" when has this program ever been promoted to Community living rooms? If you don't get be it.

I think you don't get it. Students who have gone through WTP, whether competition class or otherwise, touch the lives of those around them and encourage engagement. Isn't that what we want?

The larger point is, this is not JUST the WTP program. It is 45 million dollars a year to educate students in what it means to live in a democracy. It encompasses a variety of programs. Weigh this against the cost of an hour in IRAQ. If all kids had this program perhaps we wouldn't have so many risking their lives fighting for the very think this program promotes, the Constitution. And if they have to fight, they will know for what they are fighting. Aren't the students worth that?

Posted by Rahael
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Mar 13, 2011 at 2:56 pm

Everyone agrees with our Congressmen that we need to take steps towards a more balanced budget. But cuts like this one to education are not steps in a direction that is good for this country! The $45 million that sustains We the People, along with other incredible educational programs such as Teach for America, is not going to solve our budget crisis, and is CERTAINLY not going to help with the education crisis, which I believe is the even bigger problem in America, if you look with a long-term perspective.

Yes we need to start cutting somewhere. But maybe it would be wiser to turn to the institutions that actually need refinement, instead of the ones that are actually refining our future. Let's look towards fixing the loopholes that allow for rampant income tax evasion. Or towards improving Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security structurally so as to reduce costs. Or even towards thinking about evaluating our tremendous military budget, which leaves only 12% of our federal budget left for non-military discretionary spending.

We the People is an invaluable jewel of a program that produces civic-minded critical thinkers in the midst of a state and country that is facing HUGE problems in education. So let’s think big, innovatively, and in the long-term as we address problems like the budget. After all, that is what We the People teaches us to do :) Thanks!

Posted by Pete
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 13, 2011 at 2:57 pm

Ting, suggesting expression from experience...within the program was the intended purpose.The insight with engaging the younger students...would require a foundation of knowledge as to not disrupt a passion of learning.

Bill, it is your right not to engage. Your points well taken!

teacher, thank you for engaging! haha Somehow even a Teacher's ability to comprehend a student's need is overshadowed by lack of insight, at times. teacher, this may be one of your moments. Anyhow... I am on vacation. Thank you, Kelton Clegg!

Posted by Joyce
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Mar 13, 2011 at 3:03 pm

Through the We the People program I've learned more about the government than I ever imagined. I have become a more aware citizen about our government and how it functions.

However, the program does not only teach you about government, but how to work as a team. We continue to encourage each other and work towards a common goal. We treat each other as family and can have conversations that a normal citizen would fail to comprehend.

We the People has taught me life skills. I have learned to be more confident in myself and to never give up. I have learned to actually care about what our government does and how to get involved. I have learned to question my own views and other political views.

If it was not for We the People I probably would not know about many issues going around in our government and also the world. I would fail to turn the news on every morning as I'm eating breakfast. I wouldn't be checking current events on news sites like the New York Times.

Our country is one of the countries with fewest voter turnouts. We do not have many people politically aware or politically involved. If We the People fosters all these skills, why cut the program?

Posted by Eddy
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Mar 13, 2011 at 3:23 pm

We the People is not merely a program that teaches students knowledge about the constitution. I would argue that because most students that are apart of the program go on to have jobs outside of the areas of government and law, the principles, values, and experiences are what make WTP so special. WTP has not only provided me with a great backing in our government's history and function, but has taught me the importance of civic education and citizen participation. I think I speak for all of my fellow teammates when I say that before WTP, I really didn't see the point in trying to enact change in my community because I didn't feel that a single person could make a difference. However, the We the People program has transformed my values, helping me see the significance of serving my community. So many people complain that the youth today are indifferent or inactive within their communities, yet fail to support the programs that seek to change this. We the People is one of these programs; its teaches us the values of civic participation and well informed citizenry, the first steps towards creating a better future for all of America. WTP has not only taught me Natural Rights Philosophy, but how to use these rights to secure the blessings of a constitutional democracy. Its has not only taught me Classical Republican Philosophy, but the important role that these values of trust, honor, and integrity play in our communities. Please help us save the program so our posterity can also be blessed with the lessons and life skills we have been so fortunate to learn and experience.

Posted by TJ
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Mar 13, 2011 at 4:13 pm

It's hard to understand what WTP does for its students, because its one of the few programs which shows a long term rather than a short term gain. To those individuals who believe that this is nothing but an earmark, I would point out that a proper and well funded education is never a waste, because you are investing in the future of this country.

As a WTP competitor, I wish to see future generations experience what I am going through right now. I can't praise it or stress the benefits of this program enough. It is a sad day for this city, state, and country when we consider civic education and programs designed to inspire our future government leaders simply as "earmarks". Check your facts.

Posted by sanity
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 13, 2011 at 5:00 pm

This conversation has been very instructive. What invariably happens is the zanies on the right wail and moan about wasteful spending, then people who are actually familiar with the specifics of this program (as well as others) present facts and reasoned arguments in defense of what turns out to be a very good and beneficial program. Public sector employees have had to do this in order to defend against tea bagger zaniness; teachers have had to do this in order to defend against the same. I trust people familiar with this project, on this post, will see the family resemblance between this project and the scapegoated targets being raised by the right-wingers: things like the right to engage in collective bargaining; teacher seniority and fair pay; parcel tax for the good of the community. It doesn't matter how rational, how beneficial the program, the tea baggies step out of their phone booth meeting hall in order to spew their ignorant blather.

Posted by Steven
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Mar 13, 2011 at 5:45 pm

When I signed up for this class last year, I honestly thought it would just be another class that I would study for and participate in and then forget all of its contents over the summer. Boy was I wrong. Over the past year I have learned more about my government, state, and community than I ever dreamed of knowing. There is only a few number of people who TRULY understand the concepts of Due Process, the 14th Amendment's Citizenship Clause, civil disobedience, court system, etc. And these people are the teachers at Amador and Foothill who not only teach us students about government, but also help us to understand WHY they're so important and HOW they came to be understood the way they are.

The fact that there are disputes on this page about the importance of this program is just a difference between those who have gone through this program and those that have not. It's hard to explain a "class" that literally consumes your whole life but at the same time exposes you to so much. It's hard to explain the close bonds that are built among the community members who are blessed to be a part of this program. But I think the skeptics have to trust us when we say we need to save We the People!

Posted by Xanth
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Mar 13, 2011 at 5:55 pm

I also am currently participating in the WTP program and would just like to share my experience. While I agree with all of my fellow teammates, the one thing I would like to add is that this program is not necessarily reserved for the elite of the school to participate in. Nor is this program one closed off to those who are not AP History or Civics buffs.
Applying to be on the team my junior year, I was the opposite of what one pictures as the ideal WTP applicant. I was not civic minded in the least (I could not tell you the difference between Democrats or Republicans aside from they were different political parties). I even took US history over the summer at Los Positas for the specific purpose of not having to take it at Amador my junior year.
But, by some miracle, I was chosen to be a part of the team. Being on the team has changed my life just as much, if not more, than my teammates. Now, not only can I tell you the ideological difference between Democrats or Republicans, but I now understand how our nation works. I understand the history and reasoning of common day issues. And I understand the importance fostering civic virtue and civic participation in a community.
The reason I think it is necessary to fight to save this and other civic programs, is not because it allows the elite students to enter the program and come out even more elite. It is because it allows ANY student, even those that shared my civic caliber, to participate and come out as civic minded and participating individuals.

Posted by Kirin
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Mar 13, 2011 at 6:19 pm

We The People has changed my life. On the real though, I've learned so much about government, politics and just in general. Before participating in this program, I just had ideals, and not much of a real understanding of how things work... I barely knew what any of the amendments were or what due process was. But now I do know all of this and more, and I know now that I want to be civically and politically active to make the changes I want to see in society.

People keep talking about a lack of engagement among the youth, and it's programs like this and others that result in an informed and active citizenry. And isn't that what everyone wants, regardless of whether you're on the Left or the Right?

Posted by Mom
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 13, 2011 at 7:10 pm

My child participated in this program 10+ years ago, had a wonderful experience and we all enjoyed the journey. Would my child have the same high paying, elite job if he/she wouldn't have participated in WTP? Probably; outstanding students do well no matter what. $45,000,000 is a lot of money; the students in this program usually have high grades, exceptionaly high level thinking skills and an agressive work ethic, ie these students will do well whether they participate in WTP or not. Our family spent a lot of money throughout that school year providing meals for the unit and overall group, special clothing and transportation for our child. The regular school and graduation expenses as well as college application fees still needed to be paid. Looking at the young adults that my child participated in WTP with 10 years out makes me very proud, however they were all hard workers and would have been successful with or without the WTP program.

Posted by Proud teacher
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 13, 2011 at 8:55 pm

I am most impressed with all of the writing from students here today. I believe it is some of the best written posts that I've ever read on these blogs. From reading your points, I do believe you have the message of what needs to be done, you have all learned it in your program- your voice does matter, an individual can bring about change, and you know your civic rights to bring about this change.

I will be writing Congress about this, but I believe you have the power to bring this to a greater audience here in California or even nationwide. We have two WTP award winning schools here, join together, call the press, put your learning into action....and keep doing it the way you have written here- with class, respect, and intelligence.

I just read about students in Detroit who had to fight for their right to compete in a choir competition after budget cuts canceled it.Web Link They made a difference. And you can also!

Posted by Nadia
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Mar 13, 2011 at 10:49 pm

We have an utter lack of civil discourse in this country.

When was the last time you had a non-confrontational conversation with the intent to enhance and improve understanding?

It's rare to find an honest conversation in the world of politics. Instead, American "discourse" masks itself in a reactionary political climate while much of the public scrutinizes whatever the media chooses to latch on to, leaving the real issues behind in the wake of ignorance and apathy.

To talk with people that know your subject, know what you’re saying and have a background and interest in your discussion, is rare. Because of WTP, I've learned to have these conversations, to grow accustomed to them, and most of all, to love and depend on them.

It’s called competition civics, but I wish it wasn’t a competition. In my mind, this program is not about getting an award or being recognized, it’s about knowing whats going on in the world, about seeing both sides of the spectrum and then forming your own opinion. it’s about civic education and promoting civic engagement.

The media can be a double edged sword, but here we have the opportunity to use it for the better. This program has the ability to foster honest, educated conversations. Please help us save it.

Posted by Ani H
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Mar 13, 2011 at 11:30 pm

As a student of the WTP program I can truly attest to all that it has done for me. It's allowed me to grow as an individual, not just in the world of politics but as a citizen at large.

This program has done so much for me it's hard to just trivialize it into just one list. But truthfully speaking, the one thing this class has truly taught me in terms of politics, is that it's better to know what the government does and how you can change that, rather than just affiliating yourself to just a party.

I think Stefan summarized it best when he classified some of the students on the team originally as stereotypical Californian liberals. I'm almost positive I was one of them. In fact, I still am. But this program has taught me how to debate and reason my arguments successfully in a professional manner. I have learned to use evidence and clarify the importance/relevance of what I say as well as try to convey my thoughts without trying to sound stubborn or pretentious.

My unit focuses on the Framers of the Constitution and the reasoning and struggles and debates they went through to draft and create the Constitution and structure our government. After researching all they went through to secure the liberties we have, to protect us from a tyrannical government, to encourage an active citizenry, to create an effective government, I realized that I've taken everything the government does for granted.

It's easy to sit back and complain what the government does and doesn't do, but the thing I learned best about this class is that I can take responsibility myself. I can volunteer, I can spread awareness of political topics, I can engage in debates with my fellow peers, which in fact, I did so yesterday!!

This class isn't just a class, isn't just another period in my day, isn't just another grade on my report card. It's a lifestyle to become a better citizen, and to encourage others to do the same.

This class is not an earmark, it's an investment in the youth, If you cut the funding, you've bluntly admitted that you don't believe in our generation, at all.

Keep funding this program!!

Posted by Dee
a resident of another community
on Mar 13, 2011 at 11:47 pm

I love how the vast majority of your typical PW responses stopped relatively early in this thread. Like Ben Glickman, have come to expect reactionary, narrow-minded, and poorly substantiated responses to such issues. Naturally, such responses cannot easily form in a logical environment.

As an alumnus of the program from Foothill, I applaud the students at Amador, Keldon Clegg, the venerable Ben Glickman, and everyone else for standing up for this program here in an environment that is typically unreasonably hostile towards the advancement of public education. To the Comp. Civics/We The People team at Amador... you have shown your mettle once again.

To all of the naysayers who read Mr. Clegg's article. Before you start bemoaning the national political system, understand that it all exists solely because of the votes placed by multitudes of citizens throughout the years on an individual level. That is the way it has been in the past, and that is the way it shall continue to be. It is because MANY of those citizens today are inadequately informed that that radical or incapable politicians on both sides of the spectrum can take advantage of them and earn their votes and be elected into office. A proper civic education for Americans has the potential to fix all of this by highlighting the importance of taking all sides into consideration before casting a vote, and by turning future voters into active critical thinkers.

Something that has been sorely lacking in modern America is a basic idea of civic duty- a relative understanding of what it means to truly be a citizen of the United States. Like the people in Amador have clearly articulated, We The People changes all of that. It has provided hope for this country's civic future. Therefore, to cut this program would mean robbing this country of millions of active future citizens who know what it truly means to be A CITIZEN.

OUR NATION needs We The People- and it is in danger due to a mere Congressional technicality. Contact your Congressmen, Senators, and friends in GOP dominated districts and tell them about this program- it is more than worth saving and we must help before it is too late. Thank you.

Posted by Pete
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 14, 2011 at 8:37 am

Nice way to wake up...while on vacation. Thank you for sharing!

Posted by Late 90s WTP Alum
a resident of another community
on Mar 14, 2011 at 11:59 am

I am an alum of AVHS's WTP program, and just want to say how proud I am while reading the responses from this year's students (and other alums). For those of you interested in promoting the "it's too expensive" line, can you not see from their comments that this program produces some of the most well-spoken, intelligent, thoughtful, and civic-minded people that you could ever hope grace the streets of your community?

As others have responded, WTP does NOT pay for "a trip to Washington." Every AVHS class has had to work extremely hard to raise funds for their own journey - along with balancing schoolwork, sports, research, run-throughs, and personal extra-curricular activities. This is not a free ride, by ANY stretch of the imagination.

Much as Ben said, WTP changed my life. Unlike many of my classmates, I did not enter the law field, but every aspect of the class and experience prepared me for, first, college, and later, my career. It also prepared me to be an educated citizen - someone who cares deeply about this country, how and why it was founded, and what it stands for. If having young people that are educated, well-spoken, and civic-minded scares you, then sure - bash the program all you want. If you think we should have more citizens that can increase the level of civil discourse in this country, we need your help.

Posted by Barbara
a resident of Livermore
on Mar 15, 2011 at 1:25 pm

The WTP certainly got the forces out to write to PW. When the Federal Government gets involved, you know more money is going to be spent than is necessary.

Posted by John
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 15, 2011 at 1:48 pm

Well Barbara, I can tell you know a lot about the program from your detailed comments.

Posted by AVHS Grad
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 16, 2011 at 8:23 pm

I'm not sure if this has already been said, but the Close Up Program is NOT a "vacation" for a select few students. We all paid our own way, and our teacher did as well. We were led by amazing guides and met students from all over the world and toured DC while participating in a number of educational activities and nightly workshops. We left after 5 days with a profound knowledge of our government and the way our country is run, and many of us were inspired to start change in our own communities. Credit for participating in the program is offered by several universities including the University of Pennsylvannia. These programs need to be saved!

Posted by FHS WTP Student
a resident of Foothill High School
on Mar 16, 2011 at 10:54 pm

Barbara are you implying that the above comments came from people hired by the federal government?
We the People is the best program offered at our schools. It teaches students how to become educated citizens and think critically about the issues facing our country and our world. Your comment just makes me believe that you should have joined We the People when you were high school so you could understand the true value of the program and the ignorance in your words.

Posted by Steve
a resident of Stoneridge
on Mar 17, 2011 at 6:09 pm

The cuts to this unneeded program does smack of payback to Tea Party members (because of the subject-matter of the program), but I think it's a crude form of payback designed with a jingoistic understanding of the Tea Party.

A true Tea Party member would welcome this cut along with cutting ALL other non-essential federal programs and funding of state and local services (always with federal requirements).

Posted by Cheryl Cook-Kallio
a resident of Jensen Tract
on Mar 18, 2011 at 2:49 pm

We have learned that Congressman Don Young (R-Alaska) is circulating a letter to members of the U.S. House of Representatives with support from Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) to urge appropriators to exclude authorized, national programs from the definition of an "earmark." This exclusion would apply to the We the People Programs, which are fully authorized in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and serve every state and congressional district.

Action Needed

Without delay, please call the education aide of your member of Congress in the U.S. House of Representatives to urge that they sign the letter being circulated by Rep. Young as soon as possible. The anticipated deadline is Wednesday, March 23. Please convey that their support is critical to ensure the continuation of the We the People Programs and other worthy national education programs that have been authorized in federal legislation and affect millions of students and teachers. Please encourage other We the People supporters in your congressional district to call as well. You can be connected to your member of Congress through the U.S. Capitol switchboard by calling 202-224-3121.

Again Thanks for your support in educating young people in what it means to be a participating citizen in this democracy.

Please pass this on!

Cheryl Cook-Kallio


Posted by A no brainer
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 25, 2012 at 2:08 pm

"Respectfully (sir/ma'am), the point of the program is not to go to DC. It is to promote an "enlightened and responsible citizenry committed to democratic principles and actively engaged in the practice of democracy in the United States." Did you know that We The People is not just a high school level program? 5th and 8th graders have their own levels too (these being noncompetitive hearings). I feel that to say that the point of We The People is to fund a vacation to DC for a select few participants is missing the overall goal of the program, to teach the youth to care about the government around them and give them the efficacy to potentially use or change that government."

Not everyone who applies to the program gets in, so those who do get in should pay for it.

It is NOT an inclusive program as many kids who are qualified and want to be a part of it are rejected.

Funding should be cut and those who get in the program should pay for their trip to Washington themselves.

Posted by doesnt matter anymore
a resident of Amador Estates
on Feb 25, 2012 at 2:22 pm

since obama, all the congressional democrats, the justice department, the unelected administrative state (e.g. the epa), and the mainstream media have shredded the constitution, what is the use in teaching it anymore?

the above are in the process of replacing it with another, yet to be defined, form of socialist or marxist form of government...possibly incorporating sharia law too. get use to it. you voted for our current marxists so why complain?

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