CHARLESTON – A nationwide program has awarded money to certain teachers in West Virginia to help engage and enlighten students in the mountain state.
The We the People program was designed to promote civic competence and responsibility. Rebecca Tinder is the program’s coordinator in West Virginia; she told The West Virginia Record the students who go through the program come out more well rounded.
“It makes better citizens and I think all Americans would want to ensure that our students become better citizens, more civically engaged,” Tinder, who is an attorney at Bowles Rice in Charleston, told The Record. “They vote at higher rates, and as a wonderful byproduct, they also score higher on standardized tests and advanced placement tests.”
The West Virginia, Virginia, D.C. and Maryland chapters of We the People have teamed up, receiving funds to support We the People teachers in each of the states, according to Tinder.
The chapters will receive approximately $5,500 for each of their teachers involved in the program. Tinder says that money will go toward professional development and mentors for the 28 teachers.
The money comes from a federal grant under the U.S. Department of Education’s Supporting Effective Educator Development grant program.
“It’s a wonderful program that works on a number of different skills, such as research and writing, oral presentation, thinking on their feet, working with partners and collaborating on different activities,” Tinder said.
We the People comes to schools through teachers affiliated with the program but can be taught as part of a government class, civics class, U.S. history class or as a stand along. Students who go through the program end it by participating in a mock congressional hearing where they present answers to constitutional questions. Local attorneys act as judges.
“I think parents would be excited to have their children participate in this program, because their students area more engaged and they’re able to communicate with their parents about current events, past history and future plans at a level the parents have never experienced before,” Tinder told The Record.
Since it’s inception in 1987, more than 28 million students and 75,000 educators have participated in We the People.