Federal

Retired Justice’s Focus Now on Civic Education Project

By Mark Walsh — April 04, 2008 2 min read
“If we look at the adult population, whatever civics education people got in the past didn’t seem to stick.” Sandra Day O'Connor Retired Justice U.S. Supreme Court

Retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor says that federal mandates are squeezing some subjects out of the curriculum, and she is working on a project that has a goal of restoring one of them: civics education.

“One of the unintended consequences of the No Child Left Behind Act is that our schools have less time to focus on other subjects,” Justice O’Connor told several thousand attendees here at the annual convention of the National School Boards Association.

Justice O’Connor, who turned 78 in March, stepped down from the high court in January 2006 after more than 24 years of service. She told participants about the many projects she has been working on in “retirement,” such as pushing for higher pay for judges, advocating the elimination of elected state judiciaries, and helping former Soviet republics establish their judicial systems.

“I will make it my primary focus now to work on civics education in America,” she said. “We have some work to do.”

She cited surveys showing that fewer than one-third of American adults can name the three branches of the federal government, and she lamented that most know the judging panel on “American Idol,” but fewer than one in 10 can name U.S. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.

“If we look at the adult population, whatever civics education people got in the past didn’t seem to stick,” Justice O’Connor said.

In her March 29 speech, she told the NSBA members about the Our Courts project, a civics education initiative being developed by the Sandra Day O’Connor college of law and the college of teacher education and leadership at Arizona State University in Tempe, along with the Sandra Day O’Connor Project on the Judiciary at Georgetown University Law Center in Washington.

The Web site for the project, www.ourcourts.org, says it is developing online, problem-based civics learning tools for the digital generation. Teachers, content specialists, and technology experts met for two major sessions last year to begin developing a database of lessons that will include text, video, audio, and flash animation, the site says.

The Web-based curriculum will be available free to students and teachers, and it should be ready by next fall, Justice O’Connor said.

She said she is encouraged that the 2008 presidential campaign appears to be inspiring teenagers and young adults to become engaged in politics. But the schools still need to do more, she added.

“It is absolutely essential that we make sure civics is not squeezed out of our classrooms,” Justice O’Connor said. “To me, it shocks my conscience that students would find civics dry or boring. It is about who we are as citizens.”

A version of this article appeared in the April 09, 2008 edition of Education Week as Principals’ Group Updates Standards for Leadership

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
How Schools Can Implement Safe In-Person Learning
In order for in-person schooling to resume, it will be necessary to instill a sense of confidence that it is safe to return. BD is hosting a virtual panel discussing the benefits of asymptomatic screening
Content provided by BD
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
How Districts Are Centering Relationships and Systemic SEL for Back to School 21-22
As educators and leaders consider how SEL fits into their reopening and back-to-school plans, it must go beyond an SEL curriculum. SEL is part of who we are as educators and students, as well as
Content provided by Panorama Education
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Achievement Webinar
The Fall K-3 Classroom: What the data imply about composition, challenges and opportunities
The data tracking learning loss among the nation’s schoolchildren confirms that things are bad and getting worse. The data also tells another story — one with serious implications for the hoped for learning recovery initiatives
Content provided by Campaign for Grade-Level Reading

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Federal Miguel Cardona: Schools Must Work to Win Trust of Families of Color as They Reopen
As Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona announced new school reopening resources, he encouraged a focus on equity and student engagement.
4 min read
Education Secretary nominee Miguel Cardona testifies before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee during his confirmation hearing Feb. 3, 2021.
Now-U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona testifies before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee during his confirmation hearing in February.
Susan Walsh/AP
Federal CDC: Nearly 80 Percent of K-12, Child-Care Workers Have Had at Least One COVID-19 Shot
About four out of five teachers, school staffers, and child-care workers had first COVID-19 vaccine doses by the end of March, CDC says.
2 min read
John Battle High School teacher Jennifer Daniel receives her COVID-19 vaccine on Jan. 11, 2021. Teachers received their first vaccine during an all-day event at the Virginia Highlands Higher Education Center in Abingdon, Va.
John Battle High School teacher Jennifer Daniel receives her COVID-19 vaccine on Jan. 11at the Virginia Highlands Higher Education Center in Abingdon, Va.
David Crigger/Bristol Herald Courier via AP
Federal Ed. Dept. to Review Title IX Rules on Sexual Assault, Gender Equity, LGBTQ Rights
The review could reopen a Trump-era debate on sexual assault in schools, and it could spark legal discord over transgender student rights.
4 min read
Symbols of gender.
iStock/Getty
Federal Q&A EdWeek Q&A: Miguel Cardona Talks Summer Learning, Mental Health, and State Tests
In an interview after a school reopening summit, the education secretary also addressed teachers' union concerns about CDC guidance.
10 min read
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona speaks during a press briefing at the White House on March 17, 2021.
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona speaks during a press briefing at the White House on March 17.
Andrew Harnik/AP