Boston University School of Education Hosts Civic Education Programs

in BU In the Community, News Releases, School of Education
October 2nd, 2006

Contact: Erin Whipple, 617-358-1688 | ewhipple@bu.edu

Boston – The School of Education at Boston University today announced that it is the new institutional home for two Massachusetts civic education programs: We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution and We the People: Project Citizen. Both are administered by the Center for Civic Education (CCE) with funding from the U.S. Department of Education by an act of Congress. As the host of these outstanding programs, Boston University is established as a leader in the movement to improve civic knowledge, skills and dispositions among young people.

To celebrate these new initiatives, the School of Education will hold a reception from 4:00 – 6:00 PM on Monday, October 2 at The Castle at Boston University. Guests include Massachusetts State Senator Richard Moore, State Representative Michael Rush, staff from members of Congress, university faculty, Project Director Charles White, as well as 8th grade teacher and project participant Erin Stevens from Quabbin Regional Middle School in Barre, Mass., who will be accompanied by three of her students. Two students from Millbury High School will also describe their project work.

Underscoring the global interest in civic engagement, the reception will also welcome Katarzyna Szajewska, who is president of Wybieram.pl, an association in Poland dedicated to energizing youth participation in politics and government. Ms. Szajewska is traveling in the United States under the auspices of the International Visitor Leadership Program of the United States Department of State.

According to Project Director Charles White, “These programs come to BU at a critical time. Young people today are often disinterested and even negative regarding political affairs and this is exactly what we need to change.” A recent survey of 250,000 college freshmen conducted by the Higher Education Institute indicates that only 26 percent of students expressed an interest in keeping up with political affairs, which is the lowest level ever reported since the survey was established in 1966. Thus, the goal of the civic education project is to circumvent students’ detachment by working closely with Massachusetts elementary schools, middle schools and high schools to promote civic engagement in democratic life, both within the United States and in emerging democracies abroad.

We the People: The Citizen and The Constitution focuses primarily on the promotion of civic competences and responsibility among upper elementary and high-school students. Throughout the program, students’ understanding of the institutions of American constitutional democracy will increase, while they simultaneously discover the relevance of both the Constitution and Bill of Rights. The culminating activity is a mock congressional hearing where the students “testify” before a panel of judges and demonstrate their comprehension of various constitutional principles.

We the People: Project Citizen is aimed at middle-grade students and seeks to promote participation in local and state government. The students learn how to effectively monitor and influence public policy, and through the process, develop support for democratic values. During the program, students work together to identify a public policy problem in their community and then combine their resources to create a political action plan to enlist local authorities to help solve it. They then present their work to a panel of civic-minded community members.

These programs, together with CCE’s Civitas: An International Civic Education Exchange, which is a partnership between Boston University and Russia, form the core of the School of Education’s Projects in Civic Engagement. For more information, please visit www.bu.edu/sed/civicengagement.

The Boston University School of Education provides comprehensive teacher preparation to students in more than 20 concentrations and maintains a variety of collaborative agreements with school districts in the greater Boston area.

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