K-12 Youth Education
The American Bar Association develops, promotes, and supports law-related education (LRE) programs that prepare elementary, middle, and secondary students for effective and responsible citizenship, committed to liberty, justice, equal protection, and the rule of law. "[T]he term 'law-related education' means education to equip non-lawyers with knowledge and skills pertaining to the law, the legal process, and the legal system, and the fundamental principles and values on which these are based," according to the Law-Related Education Act of 1978.
The schools program of the ABA Division for Public Education actively promotes partnerships among educators, legal professionals and others interested in educating children about the law and citizenship. It is a part of a network of state and national LRE programs that receive support from the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention's Youth for Justice Project. The Division's outreach includes conferences, publications, and practical assistance through the National Law-Related Education Resource Center.
Law-Related Education can be infused in elementary, middle, and high school classrooms, especially in subjects such as history, government, civics, and literature. It can also be used as an after-school program, such as a mock trial competition; a special event, such as Law Day; a school-community partnership, such as service learning; or as a part of school governance, such as peer mediation or student court. Law magnet schools offer a broad spectrum of law-related courses as part of the curriculum. There are also teen courts in community settings that offer an alternative to the traditional juvenile justice system, while educating student volunteers about the justice system.
For those new to LRE, the ABA's Essentials of Law-Related Education and the videotape "A More Perfect Union" with its Presenter's Guide provides an excellent overview. A sampler of one-shot LRE lessons for all grade levels can be found in Sure-Fire Presentations. For those beginning an LRE program, a more thorough understanding of LRE is provided by the LRE Toolkit: The LRE Resource Center in a Box.
There is a wealth of LRE materials to supplement classroom activities. Examine the issues at the cutting edge of social studies education in Insights on Law & Society magazine. Keep informed about what's happening nationally in LRE through Law Matters. The ABA also hosts the National Law-Related Education Leadership Conference -- the principal national professional development and networking conference for leaders in the LRE field. Participants include educators, legal professionals, bar association staff, juvenile justice professionals, LRE project staff, and other interested in teaching children about the law and citizenship.
For a wealth of information about LRE around the country, visit the State and National LRE Projects. We also offer free Technical Assistance Bulletins. A major source of information about LRE publications is the Educational Resources Information Center Clearinghouse for Social Studies/Social Science Education (ERIC/ChESS.) Be sure to check what they have to offer.
See ABA's Educational Materials About the Law for a complete listing of products and publications specifically aimed at youth education. You will also want to browse the many products aimed at adult and college and university users since many are appropriate for middle and high school level educators. Don't miss ABA's Law Day Planning Guidefor program ideas, classroom activities, award competitions, and a broad spectrum of attractive products.
Of special interest to secondary school audiences are three "Online Conversations with Leaders in the Law." Each conversation has plenty of information, activities, and a chance to talk about these issues with peers and our experts. Past conversation participants include the Tinker v. Des Moines plaintiffs.