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Debra O'Leary
IU School of Education

Last modified: Wednesday, December 12, 2001


Constitution hearings test Indiana students' knowledge

EDITORS AND NEWS DIRECTORS: An educational program testing Indiana students' knowledge on the U.S. Constitution will be held Monday through Wednesday (Dec. 17-19) at University Place Conference Center on the campus of Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis.

The Indiana State High School finals team competition will be held Monday (Dec. 17). Twelve high schools will be represented. The winning high school class will represent Indiana at the national finals to be held in Washington, D.C., May 4-6. A similar competition for middle school classes representing 14 schools will be held Tuesday and eight fifth-grade classes will compete on Wednesday.

Students throughout the state prepare for these hearings by completing a semester-long instructional program using the text, We the People ... the Citizen and the Constitution. Each member of the class becomes an expert witness on one of the six units in the text and then testifies in small groups before a panel of judges acting as U.S. congressional representatives. During the simulated congressional hearing, students are judged on the following criteria: understanding constitutional application, reasoning, supporting evidence, responsiveness and participation.

More than 850 students will compete in the three-day competition, with 87 judges, and 63 timers and facilitators participating. Judges for the event include Indiana judges, lawyers, federal marshals, the commander of the naval reserve center and area teachers. Randall T. Shepard, chief justice of the Indiana Supreme Court, will give the closing remarks Wednesday. Shepard has participated in the program since its inception.

Supported by the IU Social Studies Development Center, the Indiana State Bar Association and the Indiana Bar Foundation, "We the People ... The Citizen and the Constitution" was established in 1987 under the Commission on the Bicentennial of the United States Constitution. For the past 13 years, the citizenship education program has involved thousands of Indiana students and teachers in the study of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

For more information, contact Janet Hunter at 812-855-0483 or by e-mail at