Reflection: Meeting Justice O'Connor
By Julie Lima Boyle
The final day of the ECS (Education Commission of the States) national forum on education policy in Atlanta (July 9-11) proved to be pretty darn exciting! The morning session afforded me the chance to meet a childhood hero- Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. I remember being just eight years old or so when Reagan appointed her to the bench and thinking then that it was awesome that a woman was a Supreme Court Justice. I was sure to seek her out and to tell her so. She’s pretty feisty- I love it! And she was very gracious to ToYs like me. My husband, Shawn joked that I finally met a Supreme!
She addressed the entire assembly and then I attended her more intimate session on I-Civics and the importance of teaching (in multiple content areas) our students about civic rights and responsibilities. She told the story of her entry into law through that thick glass ceiling in 1952 and other stories of her history with Reagan in between her main points about the educational project.
I mentioned to her that it seems that all the attention given to ELA, math and science these days causes civics and social studies often to be pushed aside as “other;” and she suggested that the Common Core will be one way, IF done well, to embed civics into instruction. “Is that enough, Justice?” I asked. She said “no, but it’s something. Right now, only 1 out of 3 Americans can name the three branches of government.”
Opportunities such as these make me once again realize how fortunate I am to represent RI teachers at such events.