Civics education continues to advance through LRE
Over the past decade, the Standing Committee on Law Related Education for the Public of the Illinois State Bar Association (“LRE”) has worked to evolve ISBA Lawyers in Classrooms, which boasts more than 160 volunteers spread across more than 28 Illinois counties. In conjunction with this program, and as an aid to teachers throughout the State, LRE has developed various teaching aids which continue to be made available through ILCivics.org. In addition, LRE has worked to draft, revise, and provide pamphlets on various topics in the law, to provide insight and assistance to students.
“By educating youth through ISBA Lawyers in Classrooms, we bring an understanding of the law into classrooms through the State,” Attorney Catherine R. Brukalo, coordinator of the ISBA Lawyers in Classrooms program, explains. “We are providing for better educated citizens, and enhancing the rule of law through better respect for our legal system.”
Over the last few years, LRE has also increased focus on adult learning. Last year, LRE launched the ISBA Speakers Bureau. This program focuses on adult learning, by bringing judges and lawyers to community groups throughout the State.
One such adult-oriented presentation is Courtroom to the Community which has been crafted by Judge Robert Wilbrandt. Modeled after a similar program developed through the Illinois Judges Association for students, Courtroom to the Community involves an interactive PowerPoint presentation which provides an overview of the court system in Illinois, and then leads the audience through the life of a case through the appellate process. “Educating the community about what we do at the courthouse is important to provide for a better understanding of our legal system,” Judge Wilbrandt explains.
Much of this civics education programming was inspired during the administration of ISBA Past President Umberto Davi. Mr. Davi saw and heard the need to better educate the public with the stakeholders who are in the trenches – the judges and lawyers who work in our legal system. “As the saying goes, to whom much is given, much is expected,” says Mr. Davi. “So, we need to continue to do what we can to help.”
As we move forward in this new fiscal year, we continue to welcome questions, comments, and suggestions from educators and others interested in civics education in Illinois. All are invited to explore and utilize the free resources which are available through the websites of the ISBA (ILCivics.org) and the Supreme Court of Illinois (www.state.il.us/court), as we are all working to make our State a better place through education.