At a summit convened by California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, justices, judges, educators, and students from around the state gathered to talk about the progress they’ve made in the last four years in advocating for civic education in California and to discuss next steps. The Summit, held Feb 14 in Sacramento, featured Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, and State Superintendent of Education Tom Torlakson.
Summit attendees also heard from Speaker Pro Tem Kevin Mullin, Secretary of State Alex Padilla, and Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, who commended the Chief Justice on her successes in revitalizing civic education, which include the influential task force report, Revitalizing K-12 Civic Learning in California, and annual Civic Learning Awards.
Justice Kennedy stressed the importance of teaching democracy and the constitution at a young age. "It's inspiring to hear our young people today," Kennedy said, referring to the students from former Civic Learning Award winning schools. "But we have measures of countless students who do not know the meaning of our heritage, who do not know the meaning of freedom," he added.
Focused on the future of civic learning in California, one of the summit panels discussed equity and access to civic learning opportunities, which include civic efforts across the country to reach youth in the juvenile justice system and English-language learners. The panel included Stacy Boulware Eurie, presiding judge of the Juvenile Court in Sacramento County; Simon Canalez, district superintendent for Brawley Union High School; Ted McConnell, executive director of the Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools; and Mike Kirst, president of the State Board of Education.
Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye ended the summit by emphasizing the importance of teaching young people about how the justice system works and the role of impartial courts. She recognized judicial officers and courts that are involved in public outreach programs, which include Peer Courts, JusticeCorps, and Keeping Kids in School.
“Together we have made real progress,” Cantil-Sakauye said. “As we look ahead, each of you can make a difference by continuing to educate and celebrate the power of our democracy and the rule of law.”