Justice Sandra Day O'Connor launches "Our Courts" in Wisconsin
Madison, Wisconsin - May 6, 2010
Retired U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor visited the state Capitol on Thursday to promote Our Courts, her innovative Web-based project designed to reinvigorate civics education.
"We decided that civics education needed a makeover, and that's what OurCourts.org is all about," O'Connor said.
O'Connor met with a group of area students, social studies teachers and state education leaders in the Supreme Court Hearing Room before heading to the State Bar of Wisconsin's 2010 Annual Convention at the Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center.
During the Supreme Court visit, students had a chance to test some of the interactive games available on Our Courts: Do I Have A Right?, Supreme Decision and Argument Wars.
O'Connor is concerned that students are not getting the information and tools they need for civic participation, and that civics teachers need better materials and support. A growing body of research shows that games have extraordinary potential for promoting learning and civic engagement.
Our Courts also features free lesson plans and teaching guides developed by teachers and curriculum specialists. O'Connor, who served on the U.S. Supreme Court from 1981 to 2006, believes that teachers are the indispensable cornerstones of a successful democracy.
Wisconsin is among the first to join a growing list of states participating in Our Courts. The project is coordinated in Wisconsin by state Supreme Court Justice Ann Walsh Bradley, a former high school teacher, and the State Bar of Wisconsin.
"Justice O'Connor's insight makes Our Courts a valuable tool for Wisconsin students and teachers. She is a tireless supporter of civics education, and truly an inspiration to us all," Bradley said.
Students and teachers from the following schools attended O'Connor's presentation at the Supreme Court: Cherokee Middle School, Edgewood Middle School, Sennett Middle School, Whitehorse Middle School and Sun Prairie High School.