Part 1: Bringing a Law to Life

Note: These recommended Web sites have been checked for availability and for advertising and other inappropriate content. Because Web sites' policies and content change frequently, however, we suggest that you preview the sites shortly before using them.

Activity 1A: What Leads to a Law or Policy?

Gun-Free Schools Act (GFSA)

The text of the GFSA is available here:

More information regarding implementation of the law once it was reauthorized by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (Public Law 107-110), as Section 4141 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 is available here:

The Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act

Title IV, Part A—Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act Fact Sheet. Description from the California Department of Education (2002).

This U.S. Department of Education document provides guidance for state and local Implementation of programs (January 2004).

School Bullying Prevention Act

This act requires each school district to create policies that prevent bullying, intimidation, and harassment by students.

Cyberbullying Policy

This bullying policy from Lake County Schools in Tavares, Florida, also covers cyberbullying and provides a definition as well as examples of what cyberbullying might look like. (This file is available as a PDF.)

Children’s Internet Protection Act

Signed into law in 2000, this act blocks schools from allowing students to access material on the Internet that the school deems harmful.

Maryland Gang Prosecution Act

This law, enacted in 2007, allows school administrators and police to share more information with each other about students. The law is intended to help prevent gang activity and to allow schools and police to be more effective in combating gang activities inside and outside schools.

Title IX

This federal law, enacted in 1972, requires gender equity for boys and girls in educational programs.

Cell Phone Policy

Since 2006, cell phones have been officially banned from New York City’s public schools. Many parents have responded negatively to this policy.

Search and Seizure Policy

This policy, adopted in 1980 (and updated in 2008), allows school administrators in Cincinnati, Ohio, to do random, unannounced searches of any areas that are the property of the Cincinnati Public School District.

Equal Access Act

The Equal Access Act of 1984 is a U.S. federal law that requires all secondary schools receiving federal funds to provide equal access to extracurricular

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

This law requires states and public agencies to provide free education and all special education services to disabled children and youth from birth to age 21.

Activity 1B: The Roots of a Problem

Information on Problem Trees and Their Use

“The Current NYC School System Isn’t Working” (p. 21). Youth Researchers for a New Education System. This colorful problem tree presents a detailed exploration of the causes and effects of problems in the New York City school system.

This paper reports how Paulo Freire, a Brazilian educator, organized a literacy program for low-income Brazilians in the 1950s and 1960s, using a problem tree to analyze the situation.

Activity 1D: Now That It’s the Law . . .

Gun-Free Schools Act (GFSA)

The text of the GFSA is available here:

More information regarding implementation of the law once it was reauthorized by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (Public Law 107-110), as Section 4141 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, is available here:

Teacher’s Note: Examples of Tension Between the Federal Government and a State Government

The Arizona Immigration law bill: Arizona State Senate Fact Sheet for S.B. 1070 (April 23, 2010).

Amended text to the Arizona immigration law: (April 30, 2010)

Teacher Resource 1 (1D): Role Cards—Responses to the GFSA

President Bill Clinton’s Statement on Safe Schools Legislation, October 22, 1994. (To search for this text and related links, go to this link and search for the Gun- Free Schools Act.)

Activity 1E: Exploring Public Advocacy—The Fourth Branch

Handout 11: The Work of Public Advocacy

Examples of Public Advocacy Groups

Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)

CAIR is an organization devoted to helping improve understanding in American- Islamic relations through education and advocacy. The organization works to dispel stereotypes, provide an Islamic perspective on policy issues, and advocate for just legislation.CAIR’s media contacts department, which is responsible for organizing public statements, interviews, and media appearances, is available here:

This link contains several examples of news programs and interviews that were aired on national and local television stations.

Advocates for Youth

This organization works to help young people make responsible decisions about their health and sexuality. Their core values are the 3 R’s: Rights, Respect, and Responsibility. They have published many online educational papers, including “Effective Sex Education,” “Parent-Child Communication,” and “Youth of Color.” They also house a Youth Activist Network.

Youth Empowerment and Policy Project

This organization consists of a diverse group of high school and college students who received grant money to develop survey instruments, collect and analyze their findings, and write recommendations for improving underage drinking laws and policies in Maine.

Tobacco-Free Kids

This organization created an online community, giving young people a chance to tell their stories about tobacco addiction and its effects.

The Greenlining Institute

See this national organization’s Press Room for opinion columns, press releases, and latest news regarding its efforts to empower minority and disadvantaged groups with economic, civil rights, and leadership initiatives.

Fight Crime: Invest in Kids

This national, bipartisan, nonprofit, anti-crime organization’s membership includes law enforcement leaders and crime survivors. The organization collects data on crime prevention strategies and disseminates its findings to policymakers and the public.

Public Advocates Inc.

Looking to challenge the deeper causes of poverty and racial discrimination, the goal of this Californian nonprofit law firm and advocacy organization (as stated on its Web site) is to “spur change through collaboration with grassroots groups representing low-income communities, people of color and immigrants.”

Public Advocates Inc. is able to pursue litigation to advance education, housing, and transit equity. For example, Darensburg v. Metropolitan Transportation Commission was a federal Title VI class action alleging discrimination in funding of transit services for low-income minority communities in district courts and Ninth Circuit. Cooley Godward Kronish LLP, one of this organization’s pro bono partners, served as co-counsel in this case.

The Foster Care Campaign

This organization, part of the Young Women’s Project in Washington, D.C., is led by low-income youth and youth of color who have been part of the foster care system. The group organizes workshops, trainings, and events for youth in order to empower and engage youth in foster care settings.

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)

This organization focuses its efforts on protecting First Amendment rights, equal protection under the law, the right to due process, and the right to privacy. Its efforts are conducted in courts, legislatures, and communities.

Children’s Defense Fund (CDF)

This organization has been advocating for more than 35 years for the protection of children. Its work focuses on efforts to lift children out of poverty, protect them from abuse and neglect, and ensure their access to health care, quality education, and a moral and spiritual foundation.

CDF’s Facebook page contains descriptions of several campaigns and tools for taking action:

Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International

This organization conducts advocacy by building relationships between members of Congress and individuals and groups who support research to find a cure for Type 1 diabetes. Civic Action

This nonprofit organization was formed with the intent of mobilizing “regular people” to join forces and become active in the political process. They conduct campaigns aimed at reforming media coverage of political issues and and to promote specific policy initiatives, such as stopping the Iraq war and enacting campaign finance reform. They are a sister organization to Political Action, which is a political action committee.

Minnesota Public Radio’s coverage of the MoveOn protest at Target headquarters in St. Paul, Minnesota can be found at this link.

Handout 12: People and Careers Reflection Questions

Unit 2 People and Careers Profiles feature a diversity of individual professionals.

Handout 13: Advocacy Organizations for Research

Public Advocacy Organizations for Student Web Research

ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) of Northern California. See the organization’s Schools for All Campaign. Information is available,

Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence. Look for the Safe Communities ~ Safe Schools Initiative.

Dignity in Schools Campaign. A description of the organization and its active campaigns can be found here:,

Redefining Dignity in Our Schools: A Shadow Report on School-Wide Positive Behavior Support Implementation in South Los Angeles, 2007-2010 (June 2010).

Hamilton Fish Institute. Provides information, research, and support to make schools safer for high achievement.

NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. This organization focuses on promoting education and reducing incarceration of juveniles. A description of the Legal Defense Fund’s efforts to “reverse the school to prison pipeline” can be found here:

The paper Dismantling the School-to-Prison Pipeline may be especially useful.

National School Safety Center (NSSC). NSSC is focused on creating safe schools by providing training and technical assistance to schools and sponsoring an informational website and other publications. See the center’s media resources list:

Padres & Jovenes Unidos. This organization describes its work as being rooted in the struggle for educational justice. Aimed at promoting educational equality for youth of color, their “Ending the School to Jail Track” Campaign includes information about the implementation of zero tolerance policies and updated media coverage of the issue. See the downloadable Racial Disparities Toolkit.

Activity 1F: Enacting a Law

Mind Maps: Sample Map and Free Online Tools

Students may enjoy viewing this detailed mind map for analyzing a crime scene investigation.

Most of the mind maps at are sophisticated, but offer good examples of how detailed mind maps can be.

This Web site has links to 10 different companies that offer free online tools for creating mind maps.

Teacher Resource 3 (1F): Community Forum Invitation

Use or adapt this invitation and send it electronically via e-mail or as a hard copy and/or ask students to post the invitation in public spaces.