Carl Hayes Explains Why "We the People" Civics Contest is a Good Bet
In a recent IndyStar article, firm partner Carl Hayes discussed the We the People program as teams from Cathedral High School and Munster High School prepared to compete in the national finals in Washington, D.C. More than 6,000 Hoosier students participate in We the People, which is administered by the Indiana Bar Foundation. Hayes is a member of the board of the Indiana Bar Foundation and serves as the chair of its Development and Communications committee; he also is a regular We the People volunteer.
The day-long competition challenges the state’s fifth grade, eighth grade and high school students to put the facts they’ve learned into context and make persuasive arguments before a panel of judges. The winners earn a trip to Washington D.C. for a three-day competition against the nation’s best.
The primary goal of the We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution program is to promote civic knowledge and engagement among Indiana’s youth. The contest, a mock Congressional hearing, tests the students’ knowledge and ability to think on their feet. The combination helps to ensure that the next generation has capable civic leaders. “You know, it’s great that they’re good in math,” said Hayes. “It’s great that they’re good in science, but if they can’t think on their feet, it’s all over.”
We the People puts the “rounded” in a well-rounded education. The curriculum grounds students in the nation’s foundational documents, theories and people; the competition demands they apply that knowledge persuasively. “It’s not enough to know what the Three-fifths Compromise is, they have to understand it in context,” Hayes said. “They learn to think about the ‘why’ — why things are important and not just the facts.”
About We the People
The We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution program includes an instructional component, focused on enhancing students’ understanding of the institutions of American constitutional democracy and discovering the contemporary relevance of the Constitution and Bill of Rights. It culminates with a simulated congressional hearing in which students “testify” before a panel of judges. Students demonstrate their understanding of constitutional principles and have opportunities to evaluate, take, and defend positions on relevant historical and contemporary issues.
About the Indiana Bar Foundation
The Indiana Bar Foundation (IBF) is a charitable foundation dedicated to strengthening access to justice and appreciation for the rule of law in Indiana. The IBF gathers and directs resources toward three main areas: assisting people who have difficulty accessing the justice system, providing civic education for Hoosiers of all ages, and improving Indiana’s Judicial System and the legal profession.