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.
Cook-Kallio teaches advanced placement U.S. History and AP U.S. Government classes at Irvington High.
Citing a report from friends and colleagues of the We the People program's California center, Cook-Kallio said continued funding for civic education programs that are part of the Education for Democracy Act (Elementary and
Secondary Education Act) and include the We the People program, is seriously endangered.
"Once again, we need your help," Chuck Quigley and Mark Molli of the center's We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution program wrote to Cook-Kallio. "We have found that the greatest support we receive in Congress is from members and their staffs who are very familiar with the programs and have taken part in them in one way or another."
"The most important thing that all of you can do now to help us is to (1) inform your members of Congress and their staffs about the value of the programs supported under the Education for Democracy Act to students in their congressional districts and states, (2) involve them in local program activities, and (3) inform them of what the loss of these programs would mean to students, teachers, and schools in their districts and states," Quigley said.
Cook-Kallio said that the We the People program produces good citizens overall.
In a 2010 study conducted for the Center for Civic Education, which collects data on We the People, finalists were far and away more knowledgeable about the country's democratic principles and institutions compared to their peers, she said.
We the People national finalists also were:
* More likely to register to vote, write to a public official, investigate compelling political issues, participate in lawful demonstrations, and boycott certain products or stores.
* More likely to agree that keeping up with political affairs, influencing the political structure, developing a meaningful philosophy of life, becoming a community leader, and helping others in need are of strong to absolute importance.
* More likely to agree that people should be able to express unpopular opinions and that newspapers should be able to publish freely, without government interaction.
"Despite our best efforts in November, the House of Representatives has voted to eliminate the Education for Democracy Act, which funds the We the People Program as part of the Center for Civic Ed, as well as many other programs, such as Teach for America and elementary literacy programs," Cook-Kallio said. "These programs benefit every congressional district in America. As of right now, all the funding for We the People will end as of September of this year."
"Many of you have responded and have called or emailed our members in Congress," she added. "We must spread the word. The most important thing is direct contact with those Congressional members. If you have a Facebook page, go to Save We the People and click attend. It is a Facebook virtual rally and the signature list, as well as the comments will be delivered to Congress today, March 17."
"Cutting this program is detrimental to our students," she continued. "Many schools use this curriculum and do not compete. We need educated citizens. Cutting all of these programs will not save the government a significant amount of money, about $45 million. Consider what an hour in Iraq costs. Our kids are worth this."
She urged those interested in helping to save the We the People program to call the offices of Congressmen Jerry McNerney (202-225-1947) or Pete Stark (202-225-5065) as well as the offices of Senators Barbara Boxer (202-224-3553) and Dianne Feinstein (202-224-3841).