Courts, schools, and civic learning advocates across California will celebrate Constitution Month this September. The commemoration borrows from the traditions of Constitution Day and Citizenship Day, celebrated annually on Sept. 17.
“What better time than the start of the school year to reaffirm our commitment to our country's founding document and to students in our classrooms interested in understanding its importance,” said Chief Justice Patricia Guerrero, honorary chair of the Power of Democracy Civic Learning Initiative.
The Power of Democracy initiative was founded in 2014 to connect the judicial branch with educators and public school administrators in an effort to promote civic learning. The initiative's advisory body is comprised of judges from state and federal courts, members of the State Bar, the California Department of Education, and civics curriculum experts. Earlier this year, advisors recommended Constitution Day be extended to a full month to accommodate the many activities planned.
Sample Highlights of Constitution Month
Civic Learning Award Presentations: Chief Justice Patricia Guerrero will present the Civic Learning Award of Excellence to Maple Creek Elementary School in Fresno. The awards, co-sponsored by Chief Justice Guerrero and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, were announced earlier this year and honor school-based achievements in civic engagement.
Events for Teachers:
• Educators in Los Angeles will host the 19th annual Constitution Day Conference at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library on Sept. 9. The event provides workshops and classroom resources for teachers. Also, four Civic Learning Awardees in the Hacienda La Puente Unified School District will showcase their programs.
• Judge Erin Guy Castillo will keynote the San Joaquin Unified School District’s Constitution Day celebration for educators Sept. 15. Events like these provide teachers with information about court outreach efforts and resources for expanding civic learning opportunities in their classrooms.
Reading of the U.S. Constitution: The U.S. District Court, Eastern District of California will continue its tradition of reading the U.S. Constitution and its amendments. The event will take place on Sept. 21 at 12 p.m. on the plaza of the Robert T. Matsui Federal Courthouse in Sacramento.
Judges in the Classroom Visits: Judges will visit more than 130 K-12 classrooms statewide with lessons on the Constitution, judicial branch, and role of the courts. Teachers are invited to make a request by visiting judgesintheclassroom.org. Requests are also being accepted for visits throughout the year. Last year, the judicial branch facilitated 254 in-person visits statewide. Learn More
In Butte County, the court accepted and matched nine requests in one day. In Santa Clara County, the court plans to make at least 60 remote and in-person visits to classrooms during September. In San Diego, the court will make 45 classroom visits during the month. To help meet the demand, staff attorneys from the California Supreme Court have volunteered to visit classrooms in the Bay Area and San Diego.
“Our court judges and staff attorneys know the Constitution better than anyone. I’m thrilled to see these volunteers coming forward ready to facilitate meaningful discussions about democracy, individual rights, and the rule of law,” said Justice Judith McConnell, chair of the Power of Democracy Civic Learning Initiative Steering Committee.
The Judicial Council of California will hear a report from Justice McConnell on the impact of the civic learning initiative at its public meeting Sept. 19.
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