Duane and Kelly Roberts Dean and Professor of Law Deanell Reece Tacha sat down with Justice Sandra Day O'Connor at the Civic Learning California Summit in Sacramento in March for a fireside chat focusing on the importance of civics education. A task force organized by California Chief Justice, Tani Cantil-Sakauye, and led by Justice Judith McConnell, spearheaded the event.
"Civics education throughout the nation has been the central focus of Justice O'Connor's work since she retired from the bench," said Dean Tacha. "She founded iCivics which is an educational website which is being used in schools for civics education, particularly in middle schools."
Dean Tacha noted that she has worked with the retired United States Supreme Court Justice on issues facing civic education for many years, focusing on the need and approaches to reinstituting civics education.
"The result of the summit will be both proposed legislation and several policy and administrative initiatives," Dean Tacha said.
The summit was preceded by a private dinner with a guest list including Dean Tacha, Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye, Justice O'Connor, Governor Jerry Brown, Senate President, Darrell Steinberg, president of the California Bar, Patrick Kelly, executive director of the Bar, Joe Dunn, Justice McConnell, and superintendent of Public Instruction, Tom Torlakson.
Bringing together leaders from all three branches of California government, the summit also included a panel discussion featuring the Honorable Stacy Boulware Eurie, Presiding Judge, Juvenile Court, Superior Court of Sacramento; Thomas A. Saenz, president and CEO, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund; Yvonne Walker, president, Service Employees International Union Local 1000; and Allan Zaremberg, president and CEO, California Chamber of Commerce. The Honorable Judith D. McConnell moderated the panel.
"It is always a privilege to work with Justice Sandra Day O'Connor who is spending this phase of her career seeking to enhance the civic understanding and knowledge of the American public," said Dean Tacha. "She is a tireless advocate for the importance of an informed and educated citizenry capable and worthy of governing ourselves. I am grateful to Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye who has made civic education one of the highest priorities of her office and the judicial branch. The combination of the Justice O'Connor and the Chief Justice is a powerful impetus for positive steps toward greater civic education in the state of California."
Readers may learn more about the summit from the Courthouse News Service.