In 1976, America celebrated its bicentennial. With this new surge of patriotism and nationalism, the federal government decided to create the Center for Civic Education. This new body was aimed at teaching students about citizenship, rights, the Constitution, and basically things one would learn in a civics class.

Since its birth, the center has become international. "We the People..." is the text used for the center's classes, and this book has been translated into several languages, including Russian, for use in emerging democracies. The center also funds a program called Project Citizen.

"We the People..." is not only the text of the course, it is the name of an annual competition sponsored by the center. The competition is run like a hearing. Students prepare a four minute answer to hearing questions. Whatever time left of the four minutes is tacked onto a six minute question and answer session where judges ask questions about the testimony and constitutional principles. The students give impromptu answers.

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