and where did Street Law begin?
Street Law began as a project at Georgetown Law Center in 1972. Four law students and their professor, in an innovative public law clinical program, were looking for a way to provide young people with information about the law that would assist them in their daily lives. One of the students, Ed OBrien, had been a high school teacher and knew students were very interested in law. Ed is still involved today as a co-author of Street Law: A Course in Practical Law and executive director of Street Law, Inc.
The law students began their work in two District of Columbia public high schools. The original idea was to devise a preventive law approach that would also provide students with knowledge of what to do when confronted with a legal problem. Over the next three years the program in D.C. was so successful that it spread to all the citys sixteen high schools. Today a full-year Street Law course continues to be taught by Georgetown law students in partnership with high school social studies teachers.
As word of the Washington, D.C. program got out, several other law schools became interested. With assistance from the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial, a national organization was established and Lee Arbetman, now co-author of Street Law, became active in both curriculum development and helping spread Street Law nationwide. Programs were implemented in the mid-1970s in South Bend (IN) with Notre Dame Law School, in Cleveland (OH) with Cleveland Marshall Law School, in Knoxville (TN) at the University of Tennessee, and in San Francisco with the University of San Francisco Law School. Street Law partnership programs still exist in those places. There are now forty law schools, primarily in urban areas, that partner with local school systems.
1975 the local Street Law program in Washington, D.C. and West Publishing
Company published the first edition of Street Law: A Course in
Practical Law. This student text book was used in the law school-based
programs, but a teachers manual was included that was specifically
designed to enable classroom social studies teachers (with the assistance
of legal resource persons from the community) to use the Street Law
course. Today approximately 90 percent of the Street Law classes in
the U.S. are taught primarily by high school social studies teachers.
people involved with the first classes selected the name Street
Law to represent the content of the course-- practical law important
in a persons everyday life, on the street. It was also selected
because it was believed (correctly) that it would be an attractive
name for high school students. Information was presented through student-centered
activities that enabled teens to develop the skills they would need
to use Street Laws information and to be effective citizens.
often, Street Law is taught as a one-semester social studies elective.
In some schools a full-year elective exists. Some schools use Street
Law: A Course In Practical Law as a part of, or in place of,
a government course. The text may also be used by teachers of practical
business law courses.
The Street Law program was evaluated in the early 1980s as part of an overall U.S. Department of Justice review of law-related education (LRE). That evaluation found that LRE programs, when properly implemented, had a significant effect in reducing delinquent behavior. Well-implemented programs also demonstrated positive attitudinal change as well as cognitive gain.
Properly implemented programs were characterized by:
In Street Law programs, speakers are thought of as legal resource persons. In part, this is to discourage people from coming into classrooms just to give a speech or lecture. Instead we suggest that resource persons from the community be integrated into interactive lessons. For example, a judge could visit a classroom where students were studying Chapter 15 to observe and then help debrief a mock sentencing hearing. A police officer could help teach about search and seizure law (Chapter 12), then observe and debrief an arrest and search role play.
Of the numerous legal resource persons available, the most frequently used are lawyers, judges, law students, police officers, probation officers, professional mediators, legislators, and executive branch personnel, such as staff from a consumer protection agency. Creative teachers might also want to bring in bankers to explain credit protection laws, human rights activists to discuss issues related to hunger or police brutality, and journalists to participate in lessons on freedom of the press.
addition to bringing the community into the law classroom, many Street
Law teachers take students into the community. Students can see the
law in action at the local courthouse, where they may observe trials,
arraignments, and sentencing hearings. A field trip to a criminal
investigation laboratory to observe police forensics or to a consumer
protection agency to see a mediation would augment study of Chapters
12 and 26.
state has a statewide center that supports law-related education.
Most of the state centers have full-time staff who can provide you
with assistance. Go to Street
Law, Inc. to obtain contact information for these centers. In
addition, consider contacting your local bar association as it may
have a list of lawyers willing to visit high school law classrooms.
The Teachers Manual contains instructional objectives, additional legal text, answers to all problems found in the student text, additional activities and student projects, mock trials, and recommended multimedia resources.
The Test Bank includes materials on authentic assessment along with useful rubrics for some of the interactive strategies in the text. Computerized testing is available on Macintosh and Windows diskettes.
Many of the charts and figures from the text have been reproduced as Transparencies and Blackline Masters and packaged in a 3-ring binder. Additional transparencies and masters were created to give specific directions for selected interactive teaching strategies.
A student Workbook provides opportunities to become familiar with new vocabulary and to review and apply concepts. (Answers are in the Teachers Manual.)
The Street Law Student Scenes Video contains open-ended vignettes depicting what the creators, high school students from Austin, Texas, believe are some of the most compelling topics taught in the course. The students, working with young lawyers and drama and law teachers, wrote the scenes and acted them out. Lesson plans accompany this video.
In partnership with CNN, West Educational Publishing and Street Law, Inc. develop an annual CNN Law-Related Education Video Update with lesson plans.
This is a question that you may wish to address to your state LRE center. You may also want to approach law firms in your community, some of which may be willing to purchase classroom sets of Street Law texts especially if they have a pre-existing relationship with a school.
school district may also receive federal block grant funds for the
Safe and Drug Free Schools or other similar programs. These funds
may be available to purchase instructional materials, support field
trips, or provide staff development opportunities.
The Street Law program was developed by Street Law, Inc., a non-profit organization affiliated with Georgetown University Law School. The textbooks authors, Lee Arbetman and Ed OBrien, are both adjunct professors of law at Georgetown and the senior staff members at Street Law, Inc. Mr. Arbetman has developed a range of domestic programs, including a summer institute for teachers at the U.S. Supreme Court. Mr. OBrien has taken Street Law around the world, beginning with South Africa in 1986. The Street Law program can now be found on every continent.
1975 the authors have worked closely with teachers, law students,
lawyers, and other law faculty to develop and revise the text and
course materials. Each new edition is written after soliciting comprehensive
reviews from educators and legal scholars. Both authors have been
high school teachers, and both have extensive experience working with
high school teachers in staff development settings.
Assistance is available from the national Street Law organization, primarily through its Web site. The site has information about U.S. Supreme Court opinions, as well as application forms for the annual institute for teachers that Street Law, Inc. conducts at the U.S. Supreme Court.
School districts can also contract with Street Law staff to provide onsite training for teachers.
Most Street Law teachers will find that their primary assistance comes from their state LRE centers. Most state centers have a newsletter, an annual conference, periodic workshops and summer institutes, state-specific materials (in some cases designed to complement the Street Law text), teacher-developed and tested lesson plans, and lists of resource persons available for classroom visits. Some state centers also organize mock trial competitions, mediation showcases, youth summits, and other activities that will be of significant benefit to Street Law students.
Copyright © 2001,
Glencoe/McGraw-Hill. All Rights Reserved.
Last Modified: February 28, 2001