June 11, 2011 - Justice Sandra Day O'Connor presented to South Carolina Chief Justice Jean Toal the first-ever Award for the Advancement of Civics Education given by the National Association for Court Management. "Chief Justice Jean Toal has been a life-long advocate for civil rights and civic education," Justice O'Connor noted. "It is clear to me, as it is clear to Chief Justice Toal, that civic education is fundamental for educating the leaders of tomorrow. Chief Justice Toal recognizes this need and is taking great strides to improve students’ understanding of our courts. She continues to be an innovative Chief Justice, an example of expertise, inspiration, and leading by example."
(Full remarks after the break)
The ultimate measure of civic education’s success is whether young people become active participants in democracy and civic society. On April 1, 2011, iCivics launched a bold experiment to bridge from our online civics games to offline civic engagement: Impact Projects. Through Impact Projects, people who play iCivics games earn points that they can spend on voting for one of a slate of youth-led projects, selected by project partner Ashoka Youth Venture. The top vote-getter of each period wins a $1,000 cash grant from iCivics.
Globaloria, the social learning network teaching students to make educational webgames, has been hosting the nation’s first and largest game-design competitions since 2009. Honorary Chairs of the competitions included Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and US Senator Jay Rockefeller. Students on the winning teams won a Game Designer Kit (Laptop and Flash software) to support their computational creativity for years to come.
...So O'Connor, 81, launched iCivics, a nonprofit organization that aims to enrich students' understanding of American history, laws, and government. While O'Connor confesses she's "not an expert" in technology (she still writes everything out by hand), she has often displayed a unique talent for finding ways to channel public opinion.
As families gather to celebrate Independence Day, it is time to rethink the notion that civics instruction is less than vital in the global economy of the 21st century. If you want to succeed, the message seems to be: Take advanced science and math classes, but don’t worry about those civics classes. In a time of texts and tweets, and the instant democracy of the Web, civics instruction seems as antiquated to some students as studying the Dewey Decimal system...