The National Republicans are using the Bush recession to go after their favorite things they love to hate, like unions, Planned Parenthood and NPR, and some other essential program may fall victim to Republicans job-killing cuts, the "We the People" program.
We the People is a nationwide program developed by the nonprofit, nonpartisan Center for Civic Education. The group’s mission is to foster the development of informed, responsible citizen participation in civic life. The actual program is based on materials developed by the center, and the program is funded by the U.S. Department of Education. Yesterday I, and many other past We the People panelists, received an e-mail from Howell High School teacher Mark Oglesby, a past Michigan Teacher of the Year finalist, urging us to help save this important program. Here is the letter:
If you haven't heard, the federal funding for We the People is in danger. Historically, it has been supported by Congress through the Democracy for Education act. The funding provides textbooks, teacher training, and support for civic education to each of the 435 congressional districts. However, with the current definition of an "earmark" and the mood in Washington D.C. toward earmarks, the funding for We the People - Center for Civic Education - has come under fire and is not included in the current budget(s) being discussed and debated.
Please help restore the funding for the We the People program. You know firsthand what this valuable program does. It engages students and gives them the necessary knowledge and critical thinking skills necessary to become productive citizens. Thousands of students across Michigan and the 8th Congressional District have benefitted from this outstanding program. Without question, it is the best and most important program I have been a part of as an educator.
There is a letter circulating to members of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate to urge appropriators to exclude authorized, national programs from the definition of an "earmark." Authorized, national programs such as Reading Is Fundamental, Teach For America, National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, National Writing Project and Close Up are wholly different from congressionally-directed spending items, which only benefit a specific state, congressional district or region, and change year to year. These programs, on the other hand, have been authorized in federal legislation, are nationally-structured and have an established history of bipartisan support. Such programs benefit millions of individuals and families nationwide, in a majority of states, districts, and regions. It is evident that national, authorized programs are not what has invoked the public's demand for earmark reform and should not be classified as such. These authorized entities were considered as programmatic for decades prior to the 110th Congress I believe it was not the intent of the authorization committees to establish these programs as "earmarks."
This exclusion would apply to the We the People Programs, which are fully authorized in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and serve every state and congressional district. Your support is critical to ensure the continuation of the We the People Programs and other worthy national education programs that have been authorized in federal legislation and affect millions of students and teachers.
Please contact our Michigan's U.S. Senators and Representatives to encourage them to change the definition of "earmarks" and to restore funding for the We the People program. As our Founders believed, an enlightened citizenry is necessary for the continuation of our republic. We the People is a program that supports this vision.