Public Education

Note: Out of concern for the health and safety of the public, tours of the Justice Building have been cancelled for the time being. If you have any questions, please send an e-mail to karen.steward@arcourts.gov or call 501-410-1935.  

Public Education

The Arkansas Judicial Branch partners with teachers, community groups, and others to foster public understanding of the court system’s role in our government. According to the 2019 civics knowledge survey conducted by the Annenberg Public Policy Center, only 2 in 5 Americans can name all three branches of government. More than a third could not name any of the rights guaranteed by the First Amendment. However, we can all work together to change that! 

Public Education During COVID-19 Pandemic: Free Learning Resources For Students 

The following are free civics education resources that will keep students learning at home while schools are closed.

Courts and Community Podcast 

Courts and Community is a series that provides information on the workings and history of the judicial branch of government in Arkansas in the form of one-minute educational audio segments. The podcast is a production of the Arkansas Supreme Court’s public education program.

You can listen in this embedded player or subscribe to the podcast and have the latest episodes delivered to you automatically. 

 

 

To subscribe to the podcast: 

Courts and Community Podcast on iTunes
https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/courts-and-community/id1503781606
 

Courts and Community Podcast on Spotify

https://open.spotify.com/show/2ZjYICspwOrlIltyXABcRP
 

Courts and Community Podcast on Stitcher

https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/courts-and-community

 

Have a topic you would like us to cover? Send your ideas to: publiceducation@arcourts.gov 
 

Other Civics Education Resources:

iCivics
https://www.iCivics.org

Computer games and other resources that engage students in civic learning and provide lesson plans for teachers. 

Annenberg Classroom
https://www.annenbergclassroom.org

Classroom resources for teaching the Constitution. Offerings include games, lesson plans, videos, and downloadable books. 

National Center for State Courts - The Justice Case Files
https://www.ncsc.org/Education-and-Careers/Civics-Education/Justice-Cas…

The Justice Case Files is a series of graphic novels designed to engage the reader while giving insight into how judges make decisions, how the courts protect the public, and why courts are important to a democratic society. Six novels are currently available for download. 

National Constitution Center
https://www.constitutioncenter.org

Online resources for remote learners of all ages. The Center recently launched its Interactive Constitution project that allows students to explore the Constitution’s text, history, and what it means to citizens today. 

Ben’s Guide To U.S. Government
https://bensguide.gpo.gov

Created by the U.S. Government Publishing Office, the website contains learning tools for students of all ages. In addition to reading materials, students can also download crossword puzzles and word searches.

C-SPAN Classroom
https://www.c-span.org/classroom

Video-based materials for social studies teachers. Includes lesson plans. 

National Park Service - Women’s Suffrage and Amendment 19 Activities
https://www.nps.gov/subjects/womenshistory/for-kids.htm

As we commemorate the centennial of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote, the National Parks Service is offering activities related to women’s history. Students can design their own ratification star or suffrage cat. Or color Susan B. Anthony’s house. 
 

Guided Group Tours (cancelled at this time for health and safety of public) 

We invite school and community groups to tour the Justice Building in Little Rock and speak with a justice or judge. Guided tours typically take 30-45 minutes and must be pre-scheduled.

To arrange a visit, contact the Public Education Coordinator, Karen Steward, by calling 501-410-1935. Or, send an e-mail to: karen.steward@arcourts.gov

Presenter speaking to a Group Tour Chief Justice Kemp speaking to a group of children 

A guided group tour can be paired with watching oral argument in the courtroom. Seeing court proceedings first-hand can give additional insight into how the justice system works.

Oral argument takes place on Wednesday at 9:00 a.m. (Arkansas Court of Appeals) and Thursday at 10 a.m. (Arkansas Supreme Court) while the court is in session, which is typically from the first week of September until the first week of July. The proceeding lasts about 45 minutes.

We can provide you with information on the case that will be heard, including the attorney briefs. We recommend taking the time to read through the case so you know what is happening during oral argument.

Oral argument is not the same as a trial. There is no jury, there are no witnesses, and no evidence will be presented. Rather, you will observe attorneys from each side make their case directly to the judges. It is a very interactive process, and the judges will ask the attorneys many questions about the case. Twenty minutes is allotted to each party. The party bringing the appeal typically speaks for 15 minutes and reserves five minutes for rebuttal.

 

Self-Guided Tours (cancelled at this time) 

Members of the public are welcome to view public areas of the Justice Building on a self-guided tour. The building is open on weekdays from 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. (excluding state holidays).

Supreme Court Rotunda hallway Justices Building interior

Brochures with information about the Justice Building can be found in the lobby.

The Civics Corner is open to children of all ages and features interactive games, books, and puzzles to engage students in civic learning. The materials cover concepts such as due process, the rule of law, trial by jury, and judicial independence.

The modular furniture is easy to move around and allows children to form their own collaborative space.

Child using the Civics Corner iPad Children playing in the Civics Corner

 

Events and Partnerships (we continue to accept any requests and ideas for partnerships)

We invite your ideas for collaborating on civics education projects and events. Please send suggestions to publiceducation@arcourts.gov or call 501-410-1935. We are always looking for new ways to reach people of all ages.

Chief Justice Kemp presenting Justice Wood viewing law day art with two children during a tour

 

Courts and Community Initiative (cancelled at this time) 

We can help connect you with a local judge to come speak to your class or community group. Please send requests to publiceducation@arcourts.gov or call 501-410-1935.

Justice Wood presenting at a local school

 

Appeals on Wheels (cancelled at this time, but we continue to take requests from schools) 

Appeals on Wheels is an Arkansas Supreme Court outreach program designed to educate students about how the court system functions. Twice a year, the Court travels to a different part of the state to hold oral argument in a real-life case, typically at a high school or college. Students from the area and other members of the community are invited to attend.

Justices meet with students afterward for a question-and-answer session and to talk about the roles and responsibilities of judges.

If your local community would like to invite the Arkansas Supreme Court to hold oral argument in your part of the state, e-mail publiceducation@arcourts.gov or call 501-410-1935.

Appeals on Wheel event in high school auditorium   Justices talking to students after an Appeals on Wheels event

We look forward to seeing you soon!