Street Law

Website review by
Patricia Montic..., Common Sense Media
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Excellent info, activities get kids into SCOTUS case work.

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Educational Value

Kids can learn about justice and the court system by diving deep into the history and work of the Supreme Court. They can learn about how the court works: how it hears arguments, how it prepares decisions, and how those decisions affect law, life, and policy. The site isn't visually striking -- much of the focus is on the documents and the court decisions -- but all of these items are placed in an easy-to-understand context that makes it much more accessible for kids. Street Law breaks down the actions of the highest court in the land into a manageable format that every parent and kid can follow.

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Street Law is a nonprofit website focused on the Supreme Court. It features tons of classroom-ready resources, lesson plans, and reference information about the justice system in the United States. But it's not solely for educators; Street Law is designed to make the court's cases much more accessible and understandable for parents and kids of all ages. There are plenty of resources to help readers understand the history and issues behind landmark cases, as well as the decisions made by the court.

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What's it about?

STREET LAW is a nonprofit founded in 1972 to "teach people about law, democracy, and human rights worldwide." Its website features lots of information about its in-person programs for professionals, educational outreach events for schools, and professional development programs for teachers. There are also links to purchase the organization's textbook and other publications. The best resources for learning are all linked at the bottom right of the site's home page: the Resource Library (a database of the organization's materials, including lesson plans and handouts), a link to LandmarkCases.org (the site standalone guide to landmark Supreme Court cases), a link to buy the Street Law textbook, and Supreme Court Case Materials (a compendium of materials related to current and past Supreme Court cases). Within Supreme Court Case Materials, teachers, parents, and students can link to a frequently updated resource called SCOTUS in the Classroom, which includes information about current cases before the Supreme Court.

Is it any good?

If you're looking for a site to help you and your kids follow the latest Supreme Court term, look no further: This is your go-to resource for diving deep into SCOTUS's history, impact, and current work. Street Law picks three cases a year to showcase in the SCOTUS in the Classroom part of its Supreme Court Case Materials section. It times its updates with the court's term and supplies a treasure trove of links to related resources to help students and teachers appreciate the content and context of the Court's latest work. Teachers are encouraged to host moot courts during the same week SCOTUS hears oral arguments, so that students will be especially primed to follow stories in the news surrounding SCOTUS's session. There are also detailed instructions for how to set up a moot court (better for the classroom than at home, but still cool) related to the latest Supreme Court case. This is an excellent way to get kids engaged in taking on the arguments at hand in the Supreme Court as they happen, helping kids get an engaging, up-close look at how the court works and what its decisions mean.

Meanwhile, the Landmark Cases site is an excellent standalone resource for learning about key Supreme Court decisions in detail, from their actual language to articles that offer both simple and detailed insights on the decisions' impact and subsequent interpretation. The Resource Library is full of good things, but they can be tougher to sort through, and their accessibility and interest for parents and kids varies widely. It's definitely worth a look to sort through these materials, but the other two sections might be your best bet for accessing instantly usable, high-impact tools for learning about the Supreme Court.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the Supreme Court's role in the government of the United States. How do the different branches of government interact, and how does that affect your community and your family?

  • Organizations such as Street Law work to inform communities about the justice system in the United States. Why is it important to study the history of Supreme Court cases? How does that affect our everyday lives?

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