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ASU, Sandra Day O'Connor Institute team up to honor Civics Celebration Day

K–12 public schools across Arizona to commemorate occasion with activities, lessons, competitions

U.S. Justice Sandra Day O'Connor placing her hand on a Bible during her swearing-in ceremony.

Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor during her swearing-in ceremony on Sept. 25, 1981. Photo courtesy the Sandra Day O'Connor Institute

September 14, 2022

The School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership at Arizona State University has partnered with the Sandra Day O'Connor Institute for American Democracy to celebrate Constitution Day on Sept. 17 and the newly established Sandra Day O'Connor Civics Celebration Day, which will be observed on Sept. 26 this year.

Civics Celebration Day was signed into law in 2020 by Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey to celebrate a day when a majority of classroom instruction in the state's K–12 public schools is devoted to civics education. School districts and charter schools across Arizona are encouraged to use a wide range of engaging activities to teach students about civics.

The week honors Justice Sandra Day O'Connor taking her seat on the bench as the first woman on the U.S. Supreme Court and commends her dedication to promoting civics education. 

"We are proud to partner with the Sandra Day O'Connor Institute for American Democracy to empower teachers, students and Arizona citizens with civic education content," said Paul Carrese, founding director of the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership. "As Justice O'Connor warned us, the country faces a civics crisis, and our school is ready to help bridge this alarming gap."

To commemorate the occasion, ASU's Center for Political Thought and Leadership, housed within the the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership, developed and delivered extensive programming on American civics to teachers and high school students during summer 2022.

During the week between Constitution Day and Sandra Day O'Connor Civics Celebration Day, the center will provide expert visits to classrooms, connecting current issues and events with the principles of American civics; offer ready-made, short lesson plan designs; and present a special civics seminar for teachers hosted by the Center for Political Thought and Leadership in September and October.

"The Center for Political Thought and Leadership at ASU has the sole mission of supporting civic education, and we are grateful for Gov. Ducey's commitment to civic education," said Lucian Spataro, interim director of the center. "Civics Celebration Day takes us one step closer to increasing civics literacy in our state, and we are excited to provide teachers across Arizona with tools and content to share with their students."

As part of the collaborative effort, the Sandra Day O'Connor Institute for American Democracy will pay tribute to their founder with the following events:

  • Monday, Sept. 26: The launch of its national O'Connor Civics Challenge for middle school students to express their civics knowledge through essays, art, music, poetry or videos, for which they will earn laptops and other educational tools.
  • Tuesday, Sept. 27: A reception to honor Justice O'Connor, including the impact she has made in Arizona.
  • Wednesday, Sept. 28: A presentation of the webcast premiere of "The Future of the Court," featuring Cristina Rodríguez, Leighton Homer Surbeck Professor of Law at Yale Law School, and Adam White, senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C. Rodríguez and White both served on the Presidential Commission on the Supreme Court of the United States, with Rodríguez serving as the commission's co-chair.

"Civics education is vitally important to Justice O'Connor and the institute she founded," said Sarah Suggs, president and CEO of the Sandra Day O'Connor Institute for American Democracy. "We are committed to multigenerational civics education, civil discourse and civic engagement, each embodied in the life and work of Justice O'Connor, and are honored to work with (the school)."

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