Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - 24

education used to possess a "civic mission" - a
recognition that individuals must be educated for
citizenship. Horace Mann, the social reformer and
father of the American public school system,
believed a public education was the best way to
turn a country's children into sober, self-governing, republican citizens. Until the 1960s, it was
common for American high school students to
have at least three courses in civics and government, classes that explored the role of citizens
and encouraged debate on current issues.

Judge Hiram E. Puig-Lugo
"Sometimes the wolf is found guilty, and sometimes
he is exonerated," Puig-Lugo says.
Arguments are heard on both sides. There is a
closing statement, deliberations, and snacks. Then
the jury reads its verdict. "[The kids] come up with
some pretty insightful comments," Puig-Lugo says.
The mock trial is the brainchild of Puig-Lugo, who
scripted the exercise in Spanish for the bilingual
D.C. elementary school, with the help of his law
clerk Sonia Torrico. The trial is part of the third
grade's social studies class and a highlight of their
school year. Every child plays a role chosen by their
teacher, who explains who does what in court, and
why. The "judge" even gets to wear a robe.

Why does Puig-Lugo spend court time deliberating
over the crimes of fairytale characters with school
kids? "It demystifies the institutions," says Puig-Lugo,
who volunteers for these civics education lessons as
part of the Hispanic Bar Association's Judicial
Council. Most of the kids, he says, have little awareness of the legal system, other than what they see
on television. And they likely don't have someone
explaining the judicial process to them in Spanish.
"This is the closest [these children] will get to a
position of authority. I want to impress upon them
that people who speak their language can go this
far," Puig-Lugo says.

Yet there are demonstrable benefits of civics education. One University of Maryland study found that
civics students are more tolerant of others, more
willing to listen to differing points of view, accept
greater responsibility for their actions, and work to
improve their communities. Research also has
shown that teaching children civics improves their
parents' civic-mindedness as well. Mock elections,
where children "vote" for political candidates, result
in greater voter turnout for their parents. In fact,
according to political scientist Henry Milner, in
Norway, Denmark, and Sweden, where mock elections are a regular part of school curriculum and

Want to get involved in local civics education? Volunteer for the 19th Annual Youth Law Fair
on March 17. The Youth Law Fair is a great way to connect with students, fellow practitioners,
and the community and be a part of showcasing the legal profession. Each year, D.C. high
school students are assigned to and supported by attorney volunteers as the students present
fictionalized cases during mock trials, and act as witnesses, defense attorneys, prosecutors,
jurors, or judges. D.C. Superior Court judges are also on hand to convene over their courtrooms, to oversee holding cell tours, as well as to offer an inside look at the judicial system
and established laws in the community.
Volunteer as a speaker, or help mentor students through the mock trial process. You can
attend the Youth Law Fair with your colleagues or as part of a larger organization. For more
information about the Youth Law Fair, visit dcbar.org, keywords: Youth Law Fair, or contact
the D.C. Bar Communities Office at 202-626-3463 or outreach@dcbar.org.

EVENT DETAILS
19TH ANNUAL YOUTH LAW FAIR
Saturday, March 17, 2018
9 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
H. Carl Moultrie Courthouse
500 Indiana Avenue NW

THE STATE OF CIVICS
Today, formal civics education has almost disappeared from the school curriculum. Public
* DECEMBER 2017

And it's not just kids who are struggling with
civics. According to one survey by Xavier University,
one out of three natural-born American adults
flunked the naturalization civics test for citizenship.
Americans struggled with questions about
the function of government and about the
Constitution, and got muddled about which

Part of this failure might be the scattershot way in
which civics and U.S. history are taught. Ninety
percent of high school students in the United States
take at least one civics class, but still civics education is weak overall. For starters, it's often only
taught later at the high school level, instead of
being woven throughout the curriculum since kindergarten. Civics also languishes in the ghetto
category of "social studies," a class not emphasized
on standardized tests. Only eight states (California,
Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Ohio, South Carolina,
Tennessee, and Virginia) include social studies in
their schools' performance assessments, and only
10 states (Arizona, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa,
Massachusetts, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Utah,
and Wisconsin) require teachers of government
or civics to be certified in these disciplines.

2018 YOUTH LAW FAIR

Puig-Lugo, who was recognized by the D.C. Bar
Family Law Community in 2015 for his leadership
on the court and service to District residents, is no
stranger to civics education. He also does mock
bail bond hearings with eighth graders from
Oyster-Adams Bilingual Intermediate School.

24 WASHINGTON LAWYER

These D.C. school kids in Judge Puig-Lugo's court
have a leg up on other U.S. students just by participating in a civics assignment at all. The last time
civics education was measured, in 2010 by the
National Assessment Governing Board, fewer than
half of surveyed eighth graders knew what the Bill
of Rights was, and only 1 in 10 had age-appropriate
knowledge of the government system of checks
and balances. (Earlier surveys had shown similar
dismal results.) Sadly, the 2010 survey also showed
that scores were even lower for low-income and
minority students, with black students scoring on
average 24 to 30 points lower than their white
counterparts.

powers are granted to the federal government
versus those granted to states.

*


http://www.dcbar.org/communities/connect/youth-law-fair.cfm http://www.dcbar.org http://www.dcbar.org

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Washington Lawyer - December 2017

Your Voice
From Our President
Our Membership
Career & Professional Development
Practice Management
Calendar of Events
Government & Gavel
Feature: 50 Years of Space Law
Feature: The Resurrection of Civics Class
Feature: Privacy in the Digital Age
Feature: AI & The Legal Workplace
Member Spotlight
Global & Domestic Outlook
Worth Reading
Media Bytes
Attorney Briefs
Ask the Ethics Experts
Associates Angle
Disciplinary Summaries
The Pro Bono Effect
Community & Connections
Last Word
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - Cover1
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - Cover2
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - 1
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - 2
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - 3
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - 4
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - Your Voice
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - From Our President
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - 7
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - Our Membership
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - Career & Professional Development
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - Practice Management
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - 11
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - Calendar of Events
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - 13
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - Government & Gavel
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - 15
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - Feature: 50 Years of Space Law
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - 17
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - 18
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - 19
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - 20
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - 21
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - Feature: The Resurrection of Civics Class
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - 23
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - 24
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - 25
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - Feature: Privacy in the Digital Age
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - 27
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - 28
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - 29
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - Feature: AI & The Legal Workplace
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - 31
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - 32
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - 33
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - Member Spotlight
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - 35
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - Global & Domestic Outlook
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - 37
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - Worth Reading
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - Media Bytes
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - Attorney Briefs
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - Ask the Ethics Experts
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - Associates Angle
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - Disciplinary Summaries
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - The Pro Bono Effect
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - 45
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - Community & Connections
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - 47
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - Last Word
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - Cover3
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - Cover4
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