The Power of Democracy Steering Committee

Formed: July 2013
Charge: to implement the Chief Justice's civic education initiatives 
Chair: Hon. Judith D. McConnell, Administrative Presiding Justice, Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District


 

Established by Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye, the Power of Democracy Steering Committee guides and supports her civic education initiatives to further Californians’ understanding of their judicial branch. Highlights include spearheading the Civic Learning Awards for California Public Schools, convening two summits on civic education and launching the California Task Force on K–12 Civic Learning.

The committee builds on recommendations of the Commission for Impartial Courts Final Report, Recommendations 37 and 43.

The Chief Justice appoints members of the steering committee for two-year terms.

Judicial Council Public Affairs staff support the steering committee.

The Chief Justice serves as the honorary chair and appoints a chair of the steering committee and members of the steering committee represented as follows:

Justices of the Court of Appeal involved in civic education and public information

Hon. Judith D. McConnell, Chair
Administrative Presiding Justice, Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District
 

Hon. Andrea L. Hoch
Associate Justice of the Court of Appeal
Third Appellate District

Judicial officers of the superior court involved in civic education and public information

Hon. Carolyn M. Caietti
Judge of the Superior Court of California,
County of San Diego
 

Hon. Kristen A. Lucena
Judge of the Superior Court of California, County of Butte

Hon. Charles A. Smiley III
Judge of the Superior Court of California, County of Alameda

Hon. David S. Wesley
Judge of the Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles

Federal court representatives

Hon. Consuelo María “Connie” Callahan
Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
 

Hon. Frank C. Damrell, Jr. (Ret.)
Senior Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California

Hon. Raymond C. Fisher
Senior Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

Hon. Kimberly J. Mueller
Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California

State Supreme Court representative

Ms. Sara Spero
Senior Staff Attorney
Supreme Court of California

California Secretary of State or their representative Hon. Alex Padilla
California Secretary of State

State Superintendent of Public Instruction representative

Mr. Jason Spencer  
Principal Advisor to the Superintendent of Public Instruction
California Department of Education

California Bar Foundation representative Ms. Sonia Gonzales
Executive Director
California Bar Foundation
 Law school representative Dr. Stephen C. Ferruolo
Dean and Professor of Law
University of San Diego, School of Law

County Superintendent of Schools/representative of the California County Superintendents Educational Services Association (CCSESA)

Mr. David W. Gordon
Superintendent of Schools
Sacramento County Office of Education

Civic education leader Dr. Michelle M. Herczog
Consultant, History-Social Science
Los Angeles County Office of Education
Student Representative

Ms. Marley Fortin
Rio Americano High School CIVITAS Academy

The Civic Learning Award for California public elementary, middle, and high schools, co-sponsored by California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye and California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, spotlights successful efforts to engage students in civic learning and identifies models that can be replicated in other schools. 

The awards are presented to California schools based on the depth and breadth of their civic learning courses or programs.  An expert panel of judges carefully selects the schools for the award.

Each year, the three schools earning the Award of Excellence, the highest honor, receive a visit from Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye. Judicial officers recognize schools receiving Awards of Distinction and Awards of Merit.

More than 180 schools in 26 counties have been recognized to date.  A list of all recipients is available here.

Funding for the Civic Learning Award program is generously provided by the California Bar Foundation.

The California Task Force on K-12 Civic Learning was appointed by Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson.

The purpose of the Task Force was to bring definition to the skills, knowledge, and dispositions our students need to be informed and engaged citizens and community members, including serving as jurors and court-users. The Task Force’s final report is a blueprint for how we can achieve these outcomes for all students in California.

Since its publication in 2014, the final report has:

  • Informed state curriculum framework updates, which now indicate that the goal is to prepare students for college, career, and civic life, and provide vibrant examples of civic learning at each grade span.
  • Inspired the formation of county-based Civic Learning Partnerships that collaborate with local school districts to support civic learning, inclusive of the judicial branch.

More details about work of this task force is available on the State of California Dept of Education websiteFunding for the California Task Force on K-12 Civic Learning was generously provided by the California Bar Foundation.

2017 Civic Learning Summit 2.0

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. Learn more in the California Courts Newsroom

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

8:30–9:30a

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)
 
9:55–10:15a

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

10:15–11:05a

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

12:05–12:25p

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

12:25–12:30p

Closing
Justice Judith D. McConnell

© 2017 Judicial Council of California