An exciting YA legal thriller and civics curriculum that harnesses the power of story to teach students about our judicial system. Read more
This project's funding goal was not reached on June 1, 2012.
About this project
Civics Education Through Literature
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.
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.
Joel Rothman served as an Assistant District Attorney in the Bronx District Attorney’s Office from 1994 to 1997. Joel received his J.D. with honors from Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, and his B.A. in English from The State University at Albany. He is currently a partner with the national law firm of Arnstein & Lehr, LLP where he practices intellectual property law.
A former high school English teacher, Stacey Ballis holds a Masters in Education from DePaulUniversity and has worked with the middle and high school grades as director of educational and community programs for several nonprofits in Chicago. Stacey is the author of six books: INAPPROPRIATE MEN, SLEEPING OVER, ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT, THE SPINSTER SISTERS, GOOD ENOUGH TO EAT, and the upcoming OFF THE MENU,(Penguin, July 2012). She is a contributing author to two non-fiction anthologies;GIRLS WHO LIKE BOYS WHO LIKE BOYS and EVERYTHING I NEEDED TO KNOW ABOUT BEING A GIRL I LEARNED FROM JUDY BLUME.
The tremendous power of narrative fiction to teach cannot be denied. To Kill a Mockingbird was first and foremost a great story with great characters. When Scout is angered by the injustice of an all-white jury convicting an innocent black man, the reader is also angered. But the reader also understands vividly why a segregated system of justice where jurors are chosen (or excluded) based upon race is unjust. Is the reader’s comprehension improved because of the story? Yes, according to U.S. Department of Education backed study http://www.learningpt.org/pdfs/literacy/young.pdf
Surprisingly, no. John Grisham was very successful with Theodore Boone, Kid Lawyer published in 2010, but the Theodore Boone series is one of just a handful currently on shelves at school libraries. Fantasy and horror are much more in fashion right now and that’s where publishers have been focusing their efforts.
Yes. Wainwright hopes to work alongside other initiatives with the goal of increasing civics education, such as the http://www.civicmissionofschools.org/, the http://www.civicyouth.org/, and the http://www.floridacitizen.org/index.php. Wainwright will also benefit from recent progress towards increasing civics education, such as Florida’s http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Documents/loaddoc.aspx…, which mandates inclusion of civics content in the language arts curriculum at all grade levels.
Yes, but the teaching materials are few and far between. The "teaching moments" commonly revolve around Constitution Day (September 17) and Law Day (May 1). http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/17/us/a-circuitous-route-to-a-celebration-of-the-us-constitution.html… is a legal holiday during which all educational institutions receiving Federal funding are required to hold an educational program pertaining to the United States Constitution. http://www.loc.gov/law/help/commemorative-observations/law-day.php is a national day to celebrate the rule of law and its contributions to the freedoms Americans enjoy, principally sponsored by the http://www.americanbar.org/groups/public_education/initiatives_awards/law_day.html. Precious few resources are available to assist with classroom instruction on these important days, and Wainwright for the People will help fill that gap.
Yes. If you could increase your pledge by $5 to help with International Shipping, that would be a great help.
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