Civic Learning California Summit

Civic Learning California Summit
Summits organized by California Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye and the Power Democracy Steering Committee were held in Sacramento in 2013 and 2017. The 2013 Summit welcomed civics advocate U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. The first Civic Learning Award was presented in front of an audience of 200 educators and judicial branch representatives. The 2017 Summit 2.0 celebrated the progress of the Power of Democracy, the success and expansion of county-led Civic Learning Partnerships, and set the path for the movement going forward.


Civic Learning Summit 2.0
February 14, 2017

Sacramento, California 

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.”

Civic Learning Summit
February 28, 2013

Sacramento, California 

On Feb 28, Chief Justice of California Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye stood in front of an assembly of some 200 lawmakers and other government officials, business and labor  leaders, representatives of the state bar and other justice partners, teachers and students to talk about securing the future of California.

chief stands with Tom TorlaksonThe Chief Justice helped open the Civic Learning California Summit, an event organized to bring attention to the need for civic engagement and literacy in California schools. “We knew if we planned a civic summit, you would come," Cantil-Sakauye said. "And you did, because we all share one common interest: a future where democracy in our state continues to thrive and flourish. We all understand that the common vehicle to achieve that future is civic learning.”

"It’s important,” the Chief Justice continued, “that all Californians understand not only how democracy works, but how their participation in the democratic process guarantees that their voices are heard. The future of our democracy depends on the civic engagement of its people.”

U. S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor
The keynote speaker at the summit, retired U. S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, also expressed concern about the future of American democracy.

sandra day oconnor“This country matters to me,” Justice O’Connor said, “to you, to all of us, and frankly to the world. In order to secure the future of our democracy, our citizens must be engaged in the running of it. And that engagement starts at an early age.”

After she left the bench, Justice O’Connor founded iCivics, an interactive website that encourages young people to learn about civics. “Securing the future of our democracy requires teaching the next generation to understand and respect our system of governance, and then passing that knowledge and passion along to the next generation.”

Additional speakers at the summit included Secretary of State Debra Bowen, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, and CEO and Executive Director of the State Bar, Joseph Dunn, and a panel of leaders from education, labor, law, and business, all involved in passing the light of democracy on to the next generation.

Civic Learning Awards
A highlight of the summit was presentation of the new Civic Learning Awards. Designed to honor successful efforts to engage high school students in civic learning and single out models that can be replicated in other high schools, the award recognized 22 high schools for their efforts. Three schools—Alliance Judy Ivie Burton Technology Academy in Los Angeles, Golden Valley High School in Bakersfield, and San Marino High School in San Marino—received the Excellence Award, the highest award offered.

Diana Ledezma, a senior at Alliance Judy Ivie Burton Technology Academy, was chosen as the summit’s student speaker. “From my experience,” she said, “I learned that anyone can make a difference. I believe people should work for change and get involved, because one person doing something can inspire other people to do good. When people see someone trying to help, they want to help and get involved, and that’s the feeling we need in every community.”

The Power of Democracy
“Democracy is a use-it-or-lose-it proposition,” Cantil-Sakauye said. “California is complicated, and there are challenges we must face every day to maintain a living, thriving democracy. Democracy is the key to perpetual freedom. In order to secure the rights to that future, we have to be civically engaged.”

Learn more on the Chief Justice's Power of Democracy webpage.

Civic Learning Summit 2.0 
Sacramento, CA
Feb 14, 2017
9:30a Justice McConnell

Administratice Presiding Justice Judith D. McConnell, Fourth District Court of Appeal

9:45a  leadership panel

State and Local Leader Remarks
Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye
Secretary of State Alex Padilla
State Superintedent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson
Mayor of Sacramento Darrell Steinberg

10:00a student panel Panel: Students from Civic Learning Award Winning Schools 
Moderator: Sacramento County Superintendent of Schools David Gordon (not pictured)
10:20a Justice Anthony Kennedy

A Conversation with Justice Anthony Kennedy
Justice Anthony Kennedy, U.S. Supreme Court in conversation with Hon. Deanell Tacha (Ret.) and Kelly Roberts Dean and Professor of Law, Pepperdine University School of Law 

11:00a Break
11:10a panel Panel: Looking Ahead 
Dr. Mike Kirst, State Board of Education 
Judge Stacy Boulware Eurie, Presiding Judge, Juvinile Court, Superior Court of Sacramento County
Superintendent Simon Canales, Brawley Union High School District
Ted McConnell, Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools
Moderator: Sonia Gonzales, California Bar Foundation (not pictured)
12:10p Representative Mullen Policy Update
Assembly Speaker Pro Tem Kevin Mullin
12:15p chief at podium Closing 
Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye 

2013 Civic Learning California Summit: Making Democracy Work
Sacramento, CA
Feb 28, 2013


Opening Remarks: Justice Judith D. McConnell, Administrative Presiding Justice, Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District
Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye watch video

Secretary of State Debra Brown (pictured left)


Civic Learning Awards
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson

Student Address
Diana Ledezma
Student, Alliance Judy Ivie Burton Technology Academy, Los Angeles
 watch video


Panel Discussion: Why Civics?
Moderator: Justice Judith D. McConnell, Administrative Presiding Justice, Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District 

Panelists: Judge Stacy Boulware Eurie, Presiding Judge, Juvenile Court, Superior Court of Sacramento County (pictured left)
Thomas Saenz, President and CO, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) (Pictured left)
Yvonne Walker, President, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1000
Allan Zaremberg, President and Chief Executive Officer, California Chamber of Commerce

11:05–11:15a Break
11:15–12:05a A Conversation with Justice Sandra Day O’Connor
Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, United State Supreme Court (Ret.) in conversation with
Hon. Deanell Reece Tacha (Ret.),
Duane and Kelly Roberts Dean and Professor of Law,
Pepperdine University School of Law
 watch video


Call to Action
Hon. Joseph Dunn (Ret).
Chief Executive Officer, State Bar of California 

Hon. Joan Buchanan
California State Assembly

Hon. Leland Yee
California State Senate

Hon. Marty Block
California State Senate

Hon. Mark Wyland
California State Senate


Justice Judith D. McConnell

More videos will be added as they become available. Subscribe to the California Courts YouTube Channel for updates. A video of the event in its entirety is available on the California Channel.


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