American UniversityWashington College of Law Street Law Program Pilot Proposal For the Academic Period of Fall 2004
Preamble • The American University Washington College of Law Street Law Program is a program established to introduce young people to practical legal problems, contemporary legal issues, and the ramifications of breaking the law in order to function as citizens in all aspects of everyday America. The course specifically addresses legal responsibility and rights in the areas of contractual obligations, first time landlord issues, tort associations between citizens, police interaction, proper defensive tactics and social engagements, and other similar areas.
Program Purpose/Goals • The course's main goal is to inform students of the law so they may properly function as citizens in everyday life. Furthermore, we wish to engage the students in an intellectually stimulating and fun manner to promote interest in the law, its ramifications, and its many facets. With that, students are able to identify and recognize how laws affect people. • Moreover, we wish to provide students with a sense of belonging in society through empowerment with knowledge of the law. By providing students with a non-adversarial view of the law, we provide an understanding of the fundamental principles of authority, fairness, justice and responsibility that underlie our legal system. By demystifying the law, young people can develop a positive attitude towards the law, reduce juvenile delinquency, and become catalysts of change through personal proactive involvement.
History • Throughout the last 30 years, street law programs have spread to all of the DC public high schools, nationally, and even globally. • 30% of law schools today offer similar programs. • The approach is to offer a practical, participatory education about law and human rights.
Proposed Curriculum Intro: Critical Examination of Legal Rights and Responsibilities Torts & Legal Defenses Police Interaction: Relevant Constitutional Amendments Contracts & Turning 18 Landlord/Tenant Career Opportunities in Law Other possible topics High school requirements Death Penalty Juvenile Justice Mediation/Conflict Resolution Legal History & Legal Procedure (full section) International Law Administrative Law Human Rights Consumer Rights Course Topics
Walking In The only prerequisite is that the student is willing to see and learn the law as it affects him/her. Preferred age group is junior grade level and above. Walking Out Improved oral skills Better presentation skills Higher level research ability Enhanced analytical processing Experienced public speaking The Student Before & After
Developing the Partnership: High School Administration • Classroom • Student base • Brief training on what to expect as incoming teachers • Guidelines on appropriate grading techniques and overview of current administrative processes • ???
Developing the Partnership: Students • Student participation is 40% of the grade. One of the goals is to engage the students intellectually. This requires more of a quid pro quo interaction. While students are not expected to brief a case as if they were in law school, they may be asked questions such as, "How does this case relate to something that you have seen in life?" Or more simply, “How do you feel about the result?" A student may also be asked his/her opinion should factual differences exist and how that changes their analysis. • Students will be taught to think critically, analyze cases and law, but most importantly to reflect on what they think the law should entail. • Students will be expected to draft a letter to a Congress person concerning an area of law. These letters WILL be mailed. • There will be a midterm and a final exam. • Teachers may assign other short papers or assignments to help with participation grading.
Developing the Partnership: WCL Instructors • Two teachers per classroom • On time and available for the entire term • Professional attitude and behavior • NO LEGAL ADVICE • Abide by school policy • ???
FOR HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS Provide a practical understanding of law and the legal system useful to students in their everyday lives Improve understanding of the fundamental principles and values of our Constitution, laws, and legal system Promote awareness of current legal issues and controversies Encourage effective citizen participation in our legal system Bring about greater justice, tolerance, and fairness Develop a willingness and an ability to resolve disputes through informal and, where necessary, formal resolution mechanisms Improve basic skills including critical thinking and reasoning, communication, observation, and problem solving Examine and clarify attitudes toward the role that law, lawyers, law enforcement officers, and the legal system play in our society Expose students to the many vocational opportunities within the legal system FOR LAW STUDENTS Educate law students in the practical applications of legal concepts Provide law students with an opportunity to apply and refine lawyering skills, including communicating with a large audience, organizing their thoughts, directing the flow of ideas, answering wide-ranging questions, and articulating legal arguments Develop an appreciation for the multi-faceted role and responsibilities of the lawyer in the community Sensitize law students to sources and resolutions of community legal problems, particularly for youth Practice time management and planning, through lesson planning, and classroom management Effect the goals of the program for high school students Expose law students to careers in law-related education and education in general Earn externship credit, fulfill pro bono pledge hours, or provide goodwill Specific Opportunities
Possible Guests WCL professors Politicians Judges Agency members Instructors from other schools Police officers Practicing attorneys Other Possible Activities Entering moot competitions with Georgetown’s clinical programs Endorsement by the Maryland Bar Association Other Opportunities
Administrative Matters • Develop procedure so any issues that may arise are resolved appropriately and effectively. • Develop monthly feedback/evaluation procedures with constructive improvement ideas.
Teaching Techniques • Limited lecturing • Case studies • Activity-oriented lesson plans to promote interaction • Socratic method • Role playing • Mock hearings • Guest speakers • Homework assignments: Readings and possible short papers or other assignments as the teacher deems necessary • Student critical examination of key issues • Student research for the letter to the Congress person • Midterm and final exams
Major Milestones • WCL & high school commitment • Volunteer commitment • Training • Logistics • Finalization of the course materials • Transportation for instructors • Classrooms/students • Extra funding
Issues to Address • Full funding • High school commitment • Curriculum solidification • Logistics
Key Dates • Course selection for high school students • Curriculum solidification • Commitment by high schools, WCL, and volunteers • Materials availability for students • Initial Banquet • Start date • Tests • End date • Feedback/evaluation • Continuation procedures
Long-Term Plans • Offer high school students the opportunity to learn up-to-date laws while stimulating their interest in current and future issues that rule their lives. Furthermore, promote personal involvement in that process. • Develop a program similar to current street law programs for WCL students that has more breadth for particular law student interests and opportunities to engage in research or other possible avenues. • Expand into other law schools nationally that have similar goals to create and foster a networking opportunity for both law school and high school students. Such a network can be maintained by entering into cross school competitions similar to or in addition to existing programs.
Next Steps • High school commitment • WCL commitment • Volunteer commitment • Logistics • Finalization of the course materials • Transportation for instructors • Classrooms/students • Extra funding
First Words Federal, State, and Local,In Street Law we are vocal.To respect the law you must not break it.You have freedom, so why not take it.As we change, so do our laws,While Government fixes our original flaws.Freedom of speech lets us expressThe ideas and thoughts formerly suppressed.We have the right against self incrimination,Which protects us from an unjust nation.Our leaders are the people's choice,The right to vote lets us express our voice.Our laws, our rules, our constitution,They teach us morals, they give us solutions.Through mock trials and other simulations,Street law has taught us how to respect our nation.These lifelong lessons teach us determination. Lincoln Park High School - Street Law Class Seventh Period