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Cook-Kallio seeks help in convincing Congress to keep funding We the People program

Original post made on Mar 17, 2011

Pleasanton City Councilwoman Cheryl Cook-Kallio, a teacher at Irvington High School in Fremont who coaches the school's "We the People" advanced civic teams, is urging the public to call or write their federal legislators to urge that the program has continued funding.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, March 17, 2011, 8:00 AM

Comments (11)

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Posted by Bill
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Mar 17, 2011 at 12:53 pm

I know We the People program has great value for high school students because my kids were fortunate enough to participate.

But like everything else these days, the costs have to be justified. So how many students are served by the $45,000,000 expense? Is this cost per student in line with what a fine arts class would cost, i.e. music, drama, art? If the majority of the cost is in materials, can some material be reused or transferred in digital format? Can the general structure of the class be kept while the expense of competitions be dropped? Many of the students who wrote in behalf of the WTP program stated that the competition itself was not the main reason why the program is rewarding. Can the program be run by volunteers at all levels?

Congressmen, if they have any kind of business background, do not want to hear feel good stories. They already know that WTP is a good program. They want to know how much you are willing to commit to the program so that when they go to their colleges, they can make a good sell. Running the same program by using less money is a good start.

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Posted by comment
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 17, 2011 at 1:24 pm


Very modest cuts in Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security would allow us to fund all these programs. That is where we should be focusing all our cost cutting efforts. Why bother even looking at all these programs when, even it you add up the cost for all them, that cost is minimal when compared with entitlements like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. That's where all of our cost cutting efforts should be focused -- where most of the money is spent.

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Posted by John
a resident of another community
on Mar 17, 2011 at 2:37 pm

The actual amount of directed federal funding for the Center for Civic Education's programs is $26,500,000. The largest part of that funding is for the We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution program. The cost for that program is approximately $4.90 per student. So, although it is a considerable amount of money, it is reasonable considering that the program is effective in increasing students' civic knowledge, skills, and attitudes, according to independent research studies.

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Posted by Bill
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Mar 17, 2011 at 3:41 pm

Thanks John. Now we are getting somewhere.

$5 bucks a head.
Go ask 5 neighbors for a buck.
Ask WTP alumni to donate a dollar, support one student for $5, or those that have made in the real world could support a whole class by donating $150. I know my kids as well as myself would be happy to donate to the "cause".

Just need to get AVHS and Foothill HS students to excite the other high schools to run a mini-fund raiser.

Then you don't need the $upport of the government.

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Posted by Brenda
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Mar 17, 2011 at 9:34 pm

"Consider what an hour in Iraq costs." Really, was that relevent to this topic? I am stunned that Cook-Kallio would stoop to inserting that comment in this article! Very insulting and demeaning to those who are putting their lives in danger on a daily basis for our Country. We the People is a great program, too bad our Councilwoman feels the need to drag the soldiers serving in Iraq through the mud to prove her point. So much for sincerity and credability!

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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 17, 2011 at 9:45 pm


The "$5 a head" is the average cost per student. The funds will most likely be distributed based on need for less fortunate areas/schools which rely on these funds to run the We The People program.

Yes, I understand that Pleasanton is pretty well off compared to other cities, but cities/schools which cannot afford the program greatly benefit from it; We The People provides an experience unparalleled to any other program in high school.

Also, keep in mind that the money to fund the We The People program is not just for the students; it is also used to run the program. That includes for district, state, and national competitions; without the money, these competitions will cease to exist.

Please read the benefits of the program which are in the comments section within the link below:
Web Link

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Posted by Cheryl Cook-Kallio
a resident of Jensen Tract
on Mar 17, 2011 at 10:05 pm

Thanks for a great article!

In this area we are aware of the wonderful impact it has because of the legacy We the People has developed over the years. However, most classes nationwide do not compete and still benefit from this program, as well as other program developed by The Center for Civic Ed. The Education for Democracy Act funds other worthwhile programs in addition to the Center's.

The only reason I compared the amount to an hour in Iraq was to illustrate some relativism within the total federal budget. If this program and others that promote an educated citizenry was embedded in the educational system of this country we might not need to send our young men and women to Iraq. We might be able to think of a better way.

One of my 2005 California State Championship team members is a woman Marine stationed in Iraq and one of my current We the People students is headed to Marine boot camp after graduation. I have nothing but respect for all who serve. It is unfortunate that you took my comparison as an insult to those who serve. Nothing could be further from the truth. If we do have to go to war, this program allows those who do fight and those who stay behind a way to understand what is at stake.

Thank you to all for your support of this fine educational opportunity for our children.

Cheryl Cook-Kallio

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Posted by Dan
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 17, 2011 at 10:41 pm

In a perfect world, miniature fundraisers could keep WTP afloat. I'd donate the $150 share for Amador's class in a heartbeat if it could keep the class. But that would buy a very tiny portion of writing a textbook, teacher training, and all of the other support that the Center for Civic Education provides these classes.
The Center also promotes these programs, and brings them to low-income areas that wouldn't have them if they had to pay their own way. It's these underserved populations that have low voter participation and can benefit the most from producing informed students who get involved in their community.

I know that people are wary of the federal government overspending and overreaching, but this is a national program dedicated to educating all ages of school kids about civics, and it costs less than a school lunch per student.
We can argue forever about whether or not the government should be spending billions on social security, healthcare, the military, stem cells, or literal barrels of pork, but why is there so much controversy over a program that is both cheap and incredibly valuable?

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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Mar 18, 2011 at 12:27 am

Stacey is a registered user.

It would seem that the value is not seen.

The health of our representative democracy is highly dependent upon the participation of its citizens and in holding representatives accountable. This is not only achieved through voting. The abuse suffered by the citizens in Bell, California, serves as an example of what happens when citizens are not engaged in the governing process.

A program like "We the People" attempts to address the severe lack of knowledge about government and the governing process. It is enabling the next generation to take an early lead and get involved early in something they would have otherwise been indifferent towards. The newly-minted voters have some of the lowest voter turnout rates. How many of us older citizens would love to have been more involved earlier on in how our government is run knowing what we know now, a knowledge we only gained through rough-and-tumble experience? Our youth will take more of an interest in government when they feel empowered to do so through such a program as "We the People".

I see this program as a kind of inoculation against the laziness of thought and ideologies that leads to uninformed decisions and people who don't vote (i.e., Meg Whitman). Taking away the funding of this program feels like creating another mechanism by which those in power will be able to retain control over those who are not.

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Posted by Robin
a resident of Birdland
on Mar 18, 2011 at 1:29 am

Key to the program is the furthering of knowledge of young people, many of whom will enter government positions one day, while many others will strive to make government genuinely responsive to human needs. Will those in government positions have the courage to amend the tax rate, despite clamorings from the rich and those who do their bidding? Will they have the moral clarity to recognize and act upon how civil and human rights must be advanced and protected if historically disenfranchized and disempowered groups are to eventually have an effective voice within the public sphere? Will they have the wisdom and compassion to help uplift the unemployed, the working poor, and their children at a rate that exceeds the disproportionate advances of those and their progeny who already are advantaged?

Unfortunately, these are not the kinds of questions that are visible across the political landscape right now, as our current politicians are shamelessly kowtowing to the demands of the rich and those who promote ideologies that seek to give legitimacy to those demands. Accountability, for example, is the ideological flavor of the right these days, and unfortunately its obsession with looking backward instead of forward has obscured questions of moral right, equality, justice. Here's hoping today's youth will act upon a broadened vision of what constitutes the good life, with greater moral resolve and clarity of insight than do so many of us in this generation.

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Posted by Cheryl Cook-Kallio
a resident of Jensen Tract
on Mar 18, 2011 at 9:21 am

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.

Cheryl Cook-Kallio

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