Civic Learning Initiative

Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye is committed to a broad and far-reaching effort to improve civic awareness, learning, and engagement in California. The Power of Democracy campaign is supported statewide in partnership with the judicial branch to help revitalize democracy in California.

Civic Learning and Engagement in California's Judicial Branch

Chief Justice’s Civic Learning Award
Each year, the Chief Justice, in collaboration with the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, presents this award to public schools throughout the state. These award-winning school programs serve as models and are shared with educators throughout the state committed to improving their own local civic learning efforts. The awards are presented by members of the California judiciary, with schools at the Award of Excellence level receiving a visit by the Chief Justice.

Courts in the Classroom
The judicial branch partners with the Constitutional Rights Foundation to host this animated online resource about the courts for middle and high school students. 

Online Civic Education Resources
Civic learning resources for teachers and students, including a free searchable collection of K-12 lesson plans created for teachers by teachers, is available here. 

California Supreme Court Outreach Sessions
The state's highest court reaches out to K-12 schools, as well as colleges and law schools through it's special sessions. In recent years, the court has held oral arguments at University of San Francisco School of Law, University of California Berkeley School of Law, and University of California Davis School of Law. In addition, the court invites students into their courtroom in San Francisco, Sacramento, and Los Angeles. Teachers receive instructional materials ahead of time to prepare the students for the issue to be argued before the court. 

Appellate Courts
The Appellate Court Experience (ACE) is a program designed to deepen high school students’ understanding of the judicial system. The program includes a classroom curriculum, followed by a visit to a Court of Appeal to observe oral arguments in the case previously studied in the classroom.

Superior Courts
Youth Courts in California have been growing at a phenomenal rate over the last 15 years. In 1991, there were only two youth courts in California. Now there are now over 80 in California and over 1,400 nationwide.
• Courts host competitive mock trial competitions with their County Offices of Education.
• Students visit the courts, observe trials, and interact with judges and court staff.

Watch this video of New Technology High School's visit to the Superior Court of Sacramento County.

For Teachers Banner
A searchable collection of K-12 civics lessons created by teachers, for teachers.

» View Lessons Plans & Resources


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