Civics Education Through
Ten years ago, “No Child Left Behind” left civics instruction behind
as schools shifted their curriculums to focus on teaching to the test. The effect on the judicial system has been
particularly unsettling. What should be
simple legal rulings are being dragged onto the political stage. When a politician or a political movement
disagrees with a judge, they try to have the judge removed, whip the voting
population into a frenzy, and exploit our lack of basic civics knowledge about
the role of our justice system in society.
“Wainwright for the People” is a young adult
book for ages 10 and up that teaches basic civics, with a focus on our judicial
system, in the form of a legal thriller, accompanied by Student and Teacher
Guides, made available as a free download under a Creative
Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
Gideon Wainwright is suspended from school
when he takes the fall for pulling a fire alarm while breaking up a bully
attack. Forced to intern for his
Assistant District Attorney mother while under suspension, Gideon is thrust
into the middle of an investigation that seems just a little too close to his troubles
at school. Gideon’s adventure propels
him through the justice system as he, and readers, learn the fundamental
concepts behind the Bill of Rights and our legal system.
Co-written by a former Assistant District
Attorney (Joel) and a former high school English Teacher (Stacey), Wainwright
for the People builds on the tradition of using literature to educate,
in the same way To Kill a Mockingbird forced us to confront racism.Joel
regular speaks to middle schools on Law Day and Constitution Day about the
Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and our system of justice. In need of a
story to engage kids and provide a context in which learning can flourish, Joel
sketched out the ideas for Wainwright based on his real life experiences as an
A.D.A. in the Bronx.
The first three chapters of Wainwright for the People are already
written. To read our sample in PDF format, click here (or for ePub format, click here).
American Bar Association Publishing has agreed to
publish the story of Wainwright for the People upon
completion. The manuscript is due in October of 2012. By the end of
this year the curriculum will be developed. Publication is expected in
March of 2013.
Consistent with ABA Publishing’s practices, no
advance has been offered. In addition, because Wainwright for the People is way outside the ABA’s normal catalog of
law books, marketing will largely be our responsibility. ABA has encouraged our Kickstarter campaign
and generously donated the ePub edition of Wainwright for a reward, but it will
be through our own efforts that Wainwright will get into the hot little hands
of student readers.
Critically important to the success of Wainwrightis the
curriculum to accompany the story, and the website to serve as a resource to
support the books and curriculum. The curriculum is our responsibility to
develop. So is the website. Because we need to do this right, we have
secured an adviser for the Wainwright curriculum, Dr. Michael J. Berson, Professor of Social
Science Education at the University
of South Florida,
Department of Secondary Education. Dr. Berson will help edit the
curriculum, and provide feedback. Dr. Berson will also help guide a board
of advisers made up of civics and language arts teachers to be appointed.
A renewed focus on civics education provides
demand for Wainwright for the People which
will fit easily into middle school and capture students’ attention. Your
support will help insure Wainwright for the People finds
a place on middle school reading lists for years to come.