Inside Track: State Bar sponsors We the People, promotes civic competence of high school students:

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  • State Bar sponsors We the People, promotes civic competence of high school students

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    James Godlewski

    Ten Wisconsin lawyers judged a We the People mock congressional hearing in Madison on the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. Neenah attorney James Godlewski offers students feedback.

    Students await the judges arrival

    Students await the judges arrival. Students are scored on their opening statements and answers to follow-up questions posed by a panel of judges, who grade the students on understanding, constitutional application, reasoning, supporting evidence, responsiveness, and participation.

    Jan. 19, 2010 – Students from Wauwatosa West High School will represent Wisconsin at the national We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution competition in Washington, D.C. in April. The team finished first in state-level competition on Jan. 7 in Madison.

    We the People, a national initiative sponsored by the Center for Civic Education, spurs broader understanding of politics and public affairs among high school students. The program, hosted in Wisconsin by the State Bar of Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Law Foundation, prepares students for the state- and national-level events with a challenging social studies and history curriculum. The curriculum’s design and mock congressional hearing format combine to make this program unique because it addresses the academic standards required in Wisconsin’s K-12 curriculum while also exposing students to a challenging experience that requires them to develop both individual and team skills.

    2010 competition. Five teams highlighted their understanding of the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights at mock congressional hearings in Madison this month. At the simulated congressional hearings, students answer questions posed by volunteer panels consisting of lawyers, legislators, and educational professionals. Members of the class become expert witnesses on one of six units in the curriculum and then testify before the judges acting as U.S. congressional representatives. Students are scored on their opening presentation and on answers to follow-up questions by a panel of judges, who grade the students on understanding, constitutional application, reasoning, supporting evidence, responsiveness and participation.

    Public Education Committee Chair Kevin Palmersheim stresses the value of We the People and other State Bar-sponsored public education programs. “We face some complex challenges, and this type of program helps prepare the next generation of Americans to address them by fostering a deeper understanding of our Constitution and by developing analytic, presentation, and other lifelong skills.”

    The State Bar thanks the following attorneys for volunteering as judges:

    Thomas Boykoff, Madison

    William L. Dusso, Madison

    Philip Freeburg, Madison

    James G. Godlewski, Neenah

    Bill Kramer, Waukesha

    Michael Rosenberg, Madison

    Ronald Sklansky, Madison

    Steven Sorenson, Ripon

    L. Michael Tobin, Madison

    V. Russell Whitesel, Madison

    The national We the People program has reached more than 30 million students and 81,000 teachers since its inception in 1987. The program is funded nationally by the U.S. Department of Education under the Education for Democracy Act approved by Congress. The program is directed by the Center for Civic Education, based in Los Angeles, Calif., and Washington, D.C.