Nebraska State Bar Foundation

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News Sixty Teachers of Native Students to Participate in “We the People”

Sixty Teachers of Native Students to Participate in “We the People”

The 2010 We the People:  The Citizen and the Constitution Teachers Summer Institute will uniquely combine the study of the United States Constitution with an examination of Indian sovereign law.  The institute takes place on the Nebraska Wesleyan University campus July 26-31 and will accommodate 60 teachers of Native American students in Nebraska.

Half of the teacher participants will come from Lincoln Public Schools (LPS), and the other half will be teachers from four schools in the northeast part of the state where tribal lands are located.  A Teaching American History grant that was awarded last year to LPS is supporting the teachers participating in the institute.

The We the People curriculum helps students understand the history and principles of our constitutional government.  The summer institute will also focus on Indian sovereign authority and its reconciliation with Federal law.

The institute is highly interactive and features Constitutional scholars.  Associate Dean Michael J. Kelly, Creighton University School of Law, will present “American Indian Citizenship and the Constitution.” Tom Vontz, Assistant Professor of Education at Kansas State University, will discuss “What Are the Responsibilities of Citizens?”

Indiana University Professor Emeritus John Patrick will address the group on the topic, “How Did the Framers Write Our Constitution?”  Jasmine Farrier, Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Louisville, explores the question, “How Does the Constitution Organize Our Government?”

The institute also provides mentors for the teachers.  Experienced We the People teachers serving as mentors are Lori Broady, Johnson-Brock Public Schools; David Jopp and Mary Meyer, Skutt Catholic High School, Omaha; David Nebel, Lincoln Southeast High School; Kevin Rippe, Lincoln East High School; and Ryan Salem, Lincoln Southwest High School.

Participants conclude the week by presenting a congressional hearing before a panel of judges.  They also receive a free set of We the People textbooks from the Center for Civic Education (CCE) so they may begin a program at their own schools in the fall.

The Nebraska State Bar Foundation administers the We the People program in Nebraska.  Sarah Peetz, State Coordinator for the program, is directing the summer institute.  The institute is partially funded by a grant from the Cooper Foundation and the Bar Foundation’s Flavel A. Wright Fund for the Study of the Constitution.  More information about We the People:  The Citizen and the Constitution may be found at

Partners and other contributors for the institute are CCE and Nebraska Wesleyan University.  The project provides institute teachers the opportunity to complete a Master of Arts in Historical Studies degree through Wesleyan University.  Participating in the Foundation’s WTP Summer Institute is an integral requirement for completing the advanced degree.


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