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Precursor to Law Day
Law Day is observed by May 1 each year. Typically our April issue is devoted to Law Day and its activities. However, we realize it might be easier to put a presentation together or have a resource person visit your classroom if you have a little more time to plan and organize. For this reason, we have started this semester with the Brown decision, as that is the topic for this year's Law Day. Brown is a very important case in our country's history and, since the decision took place in our own backyard, it is of great interest to our children. We will have more information on Law Day in our April issue, but hope this issue helps to start build excitement for Brown at 50!
Calendar of Events
Brown v. Board of Education turns 50!
The case we know as Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas was the result of years of legal battles in school districts across the country, motivated by those willing to challenge the notion that schools segregated by race could provide equal educational opportunities to all. The Brown decision embraced legal challenges to segregated public schools from four different states: Delaware, Kansas, South Carolina, and Virginia. The four cases in Brown were argued together with a fifth case, Bolling v. Sharpe, which challenged segregated schools in the District of Columbia. All of the cases were based on the same legal premise: that separate can never be equal and that racial segregation enforced by law in and of itself violates the rights of equal protection, liberty, and the due process of law guaranteed by the Constitution.
Kansas, situated in the American heartland, has played a central role in this nation's struggles with race relations. In the years preceding the Civil War, "Bleeding Kansas" was a battleground in the debate over slavery, as pro-slavery and abolitionist forces fought to determine whether Kansas would enter the Union as a free state or a slave state. Nearly one hundred years later, Kansas was again in the national spotlight as a group of parents in Topeka challenged racially segregated schools in the state's capital city. Kansas law gave cities with a population of 15,000 or more the right to segregate schools below the high school level according to race. Topeka High School was integrated, as the law required, although most extracurricular activities, such as athletic teams and student advisory councils, were segregated by race.
In 1941, the junior high schools had been integrated as well by order of the Kansas Supreme Court in Graham v. Board of Education of Topeka. Topeka had tried to establish segregated junior high schools, which offered white students in grades 7 through 9 departmentalized courses taught by subject specialists. Black students would have stayed in a grade school system through grade 8, in which a single classroom teacher was asked to teach all course offerings. Not until grade 9 would black students have had the opportunity to join white students for a single year in junior high. The Kansas court held that this system denied black students equal educational advantages in the seventh and eighth grades, and the Topeka junior high schools were integrated, but the victory came at a cost. Eight black teachers lost their jobs.
Ten years later, the case of Brown v. Board of Education was filed in the United States District Court for Kansas. Encouraged by McKinley Burnett, head of the Topeka NAACP chapter, 13 parents of black elementary-age students had tried to enroll their children in one of Topeka's eighteen "whites only" elementary schools when school began in September of 1950. One of those parents was Oliver Brown, father of Linda Brown, whose name led the list of plaintiffs.
The District Court found that the facilities provided for black elementary students in Topeka were substantially equal to those provided to white students. It noted that existing U.S. Supreme Court precedent bound it to deny the plaintiffs' claims that segregation itself violated their equal protection rights. But attached to the court's decision was a finding of fact that "segregation of white and colored children in public schools has a detrimental effect upon the colored children," and that "the impact is greater when it has the sanction of law."
The arguments in the four Brown cases and Bolling v. Sharpe were spread over two of the Supreme Court's terms. The initial oral arguments were held in December 1952. The following June, lawyers for the various parties were told to prepare for a second round of arguments on a list of five questions that focused on the history of the Fourteenth Amendment and the Court's powers and options in fashioning a remedy in the event that segregated schools were found to be unconstitutional. These arguments were held in December 1953. The following year, on May 17, 1954, the Court issued a unanimous decision in Brown declaring that segregated schools are inherently unequal, violating the equal protection guarantees of the Fourteenth Amendment. A companion decision in Bolling v. Sharpe declared that segregation also violated the Fifth Amendment's due process guarantees. In 1955, the Court ordered that the schools in Brown be integrated under supervision of the district courts "with all deliberate speed."
The Court's decision in 1954 was both an end and a beginning. The doctrine of "separate but equal" was officially refuted, but a new round of battles was about to begin over the necessity, extent, and pace of integration in schools around the country.
The decision in Brown certainly represented a monumental shift in the law; no longer could segregationists claim support for their practices in the United States Constitution. As we commemorate this decision, however, it is also appropriate to reflect on whether its promise of equal educational opportunities for all Americans has been fulfilled.
Richard Kluger, Simple Justice (New York: Vintage Books, 1977)
Leon Friedman, ed., Argument: The Complete Oral Argument before the Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 1952-55. This article was adapted from the American Bar Association's Website and Law Day Planning Guide.
February may be the shortest month of the year, but its days are packed with important anniversaries and remembrances, particularly for African-Americans -- from the presumed birthday of Frederick Douglass on February 14, 1817 to Malcolm X's assassination on February 21, 1965 and Nelson Mandela's release from prison on February 11, 1990.
Within those four short weeks are the anniversaries of the Montgomery bus boycott arrests (February 22, 1956), the ratification of the 15th amendment guaranteeing that race would not prevent a man from voting (February 3, 1870), the Greensboro, North Carolina, Woolworth lunch-counter sit-in (February 1, 1960), Abraham Lincoln's approval of the 13th amendment abolishing slavery (February 1, 1865) and opera star Marian Anderson's birthday (February 27, 1897).
Celebrations of African-American heritage and achievement began in 1926, launched by Dr. Carter G. Woodson and others. The original week-long observance became a month in 1976 -- a time to mark the considerable contributions of African-Americans to the fabric of the United States. Found at http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/1998/black.history/happenings/.
The Kansas Bar Association Young Lawyer sponsored High School Mock Trial Tournament is in full swing again, and the regional meets will take place on March 5th & 6th in both Kansas City and Wichita.
The regional tournaments will feature 54 teams battling for the winning rights to attend the state tournament on April 2nd & 3rd. The Johnson County Tournament will be held at the Johnson County Courthouse, located at 100 N. Kansas Avenue, Olathe, Kansas. This tournament will feature teams from the following schools: Shawnee Mission North, Shawnee Mission South, Shawnee Mission Northwest, Shawnee Mission West, Shawnee Mission East, Oxford Middle School, Bonner Springs High School, Blue Valley West, Olathe South, Blue Valley, and Blue Valley North. The Sedgwick County Tournament will be held at the Sedgwick County Courthouse, located at 525 N. Main, Wichita, Kansas. This tournament will feature teams from the following schools: Neodesha, The Independent School, Kapaun Mt. Carmel, Wichita South, Wabaunsee, Northeast Magnet, Concordia, Riverton, Columbus, and Barter Springs.
For the first time ever, the state finals will be moved from their traditional home of Washburn Law School, to a rotating schedule between Wichita and Kansas City. The move will provide the young legal talent of High Schools the opportunity to compete in the finals in real courtrooms. The 2004 State Finals will be held in Wichita, and the 2005 finals will be in Kansas City.
A number of years ago, the Kansas Bar Association, established a task force to respond to a growing concern within the legal profession: The concern that students were entering law school with an incomplete understanding of the rewards and responsibilities associated with a legal career.
The task force's broad purpose was to assist students seeking information about a career as an attorney. At the same time, the task force wanted to impress upon students the ideals of the legal profession and how these ideals interact with the economics and day-to-day realities of practicing law.
The result of the task force's work is a video entitled Practicing Law in Kansas. The video is a collection of Kansas attorneys willing to share their experiences and thoughts on practicing law and their role as attorneys in the social fabric of this state. The interview segments are woven together with narration by Bill Curtis, a native Kansan who produces television programs for the A&E network, including "American Justice".
This video is free of charge to counselors and teachers. We encourage you to call the Kansas Bar Association at (785) 234-5696 to receive your complimentary copy. Also available is a "Practicing Law In Kansas" guide that will help facilitate the discussion. The guide expands upon some of the issues raised in the video and provides relevant statistics relating to salaries, employment opportunities, and average hours worked.
If you have further questions or would like more information, please contact Btissam Touijer at (785) 234-5696 or email email@example.com .
The Kansas Bar Association, with funding from the Kansas Bar Foundation is making available grant funds to be used by schools in developing peer mediation and youth court programs. The $500 grants can be used to produce seminars, hire consultants, and/or pay for supplies or other expenses associated with starting or continuing a program. Peer mediation programs are defined as programs which are developed to reduce in-school conflicts between students by using students to mediate the disputes. Youth courts are programs that use students in youth court settings to hear minor violations and to decide on appropriate disciplines.
Applications for grant funds should be in letter format and should include the following information:
The deadline to submit grant applications is April 9, 2004. If you receive a grant, your school/organization will be required to forward any evaluation information resulting from the conflict resolution program to the KBA. This detailed information will help continue the funding of conflict resolution programs.
If you would have any questions or wish to submit an application, contact Btissam Touijer at the Kansas Bar Association, (785) 234-5696, P.O. Box 1037, Topeka, KS 66601-1037 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The ABA has a free newsletter that contains information on law-related education. Law Matters, which reports on developments, ideas, programs, and resources in the field of public education about the law, is published three times each year (winter, summer, fall). For information on ordering, contact the ABA at (312) 988-5735 or email@example.com.
The Kansas Court of Appeals, an 11-member, intermediate appellate court sits in three-judge panels. The court is pleased to have students attend the hearings. The Court of Appeals will next be hearing cases in Topeka, Kansas City, KS, and Wichita March 9-10. Two three-judge panels will sit in Wichita both days, one at the Sedgwick County Courthouse and the other at the "old" Sedgwick County Courthouse across the street. Three-member panels also will hear appeals in the U.S. District Court building in Kansas City, KS, and in the Judicial Center in Topeka.
The Kansas Supreme Court is the highest court in the state, and includes seven members. Students are also welcome at oral arguments before the Supreme Court. The high court holds its hearings only in Topeka. The Supreme Court will be hearing oral arguments during the week beginning March 15. If you have any questions concerning the Kansas appellate courts, or if you would like to bring your class to either the Kansas Supreme Court or the Kansas Court of Appeals, teachers may contact Ron Keefover, Education and Information Officer of the Office of Judicial Administration, 301 West 10th Avenue, Topeka, Kansas 66612-1507, (785) 296-4872, for assistance. You can also contact Mr. Keefover via email at Keefoverr@kscourts.org.
The Law-Related Education Inventory has the following items which might be useful in discussing the anniversary of Brown and other civil rights issues:
The Law-Related Education Inventory has many resources to help teach about law-related topics. To order a catalog, call Btissam Touijer at the Kansas Bar Association, (785) 234-5696 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The Kansas Bar Association and the lawyers in your community sponsor the Law-Related Education Inventory. The clearinghouse will mail free copies of law-related posters, games, mock trials, booklets, lesson plans, and other aids. It is open Monday through Thursday, 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., and Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The director of the Teachers College Resource Center, which houses the Law-Related Education Inventory, Marla Darby, can be reached at Darbymar@esumail.emporia.edu/.
Also includes: reading, research, vocabulary, reporting, drawing, map skills, role-playing, writing; authority, property, freedom, diversity.
The teacher might choose one of three ways to use these materials: 1) the teacher reads the story to the students and may choose only some or all of the questions and activities for student participation; 2) students receive photocopies of the story to read themselves, but questions and activities are not included in the photocopies. Teacher chooses those questions/activities students should address; or 3) students receive photocopies of story and questions/activities, thus participating in all suggestions given.
A resource person can use this lesson by reading the story to the children, interrupting the text with the discussion questions at the end of each chapter. The teacher can use the other suggestions as follow-up activities. If time does not allow covering the whole story in one day, the teacher could do the first chapter (or two chapters) and activities in advance, then the resource person can finish the story with the children and explain the Supreme Court process and its decision.
In either case, it should be pointed out to the children that the Supreme Court's decision affected not just the students in Topeka, Kansas, but in all of the United States.
Present any necessary vocabulary words to the students before reading each chapter. Suggested vocabulary words include:
A Famous Child
This is a true story about a little girl in Topeka, Kansas, who didn't really know that anything special was happening in her life. And yet her name became known by people all over the United Stated. Her name, and facts about her life, introduced one of the most important cases ever to be decided by the Supreme Court.
Linda Carol Brown was seven years old. She lived with her father, Oliver, and her mother, Leola, and two younger sisters in a poor neighborhood in Topeka, Kansas. It was a very noisy neighborhood, because it was right next to a switching yard for trains. Linda and her sisters didn't mind the noise. They liked making up games about the trains, and they made friends with many of the trainmen who ran the switches. Some of these friends gave them candy. One man played a teasing game with them. Every time he saw the three girls, he would wave and yell, "Hi boys!" The girls would laugh and call back, "Hi Mary!" The man was so jolly, he reminded Linda of Santa Claus.
The girls also liked being near the railroad yard because when the big fair came to town, the show cars were brought up on the siding, and the children who lived nearby would be the first to see them and the first to know the fair was in town. There were bright silver flatcars and troupers' quarters, and the red and yellow cars that held the animals.
When Linda was inside her home, life was much quieter. Her father worked at a different kind of railroad job, about a half mile away. He was a welder who repaired boxcars. He was very tired when he returned home at night and often took a little nap as soon as he arrived. When he woke, everyone would come quietly to the dinner table and remain solemn until grace was said. Then Mr. Brown would joke with his family during dinner and everyone would laugh and feel happy. Friday nights were special times, and Linda's favorite. The family would pop popcorn and then Mr. And Mrs. Brown would tell wonderful stories about when they were children.
Each night Mr. Brown would listen to the girls' bedtime prayers. On Sundays, the family went to Sunday school and church. Mr. Brown gave much of his Sunday time, and any other time he could, to work at the church as an assistant pastor. The church was an important part of life for everyone in the Brown family.
Linda went to Monroe School, which was a mile away from where she lived. Getting to school was not easy. She had to leave home by 7:40 each morning to walk to a bus stop that was six blocks away. She started off by walking between the train tracks that went through the switching yard. Even though this was dangerous, it was easier than trying to walk outside the tracks, because the street was crowded with warehouses and there were no sidewalks. The bus was supposed to arrive by 8:00. Sometimes it did. Sometimes it was late. When it was late, Linda would have to stand and wait - often in freezing cold weather, or rain, or snow. When the bus was on time, she could get right on, but then she would arrive at school a half-hour before it opened, so she still would have to stand outside and wait. That was the only bus that could take her to school, so there was no way that Linda could make the trip without having to stand out in the weather at one place or the other.
When Linda was ready to start third grade, her father surprised her by saying he was going to walk her to her first day of school. Then he surprised her even more by taking a different route. They went the opposite direction from the trains for about three blocks, then turned onto a pleasant tree-lined street with small, neat houses. After walking three more blocks, they came to a school. It was lighter and prettier than Monroe School, with a little tower on one end that was topped by a fancy weather vane. On the other end was a big wall sculpture of a cheerful sun beaming down on children who were running, jumping rope, rolling a hoop, and flying a kite.
Linda wasn't sure why they had come to this school, and she could tell her father was uneasy as he took her hand and walked up the front steps. Once inside, they were directed to the principal's office. Linda was told to wait outside the door while her father went in to talk to the principal. He was only there a few minutes, then he came out and took her hand again. As they walked home, Linda could tell that her father was very upset. Even though Sumner School was so much closer to their home than Monroe School, the principal said Linda could not go to school there. Sumner School was for white children only. Linda Brown was black.
Linda went back to Monroe School. One night, not long after school had started for the year, her father took her to a meeting that was held at a church - a different church than the one they usually attended. There were lots of grown-ups at the meeting, and Linda didn't understand what they were talking about. But after a while, she was called to the front of the room and asked to stand up on the podium. As she stood there a voice asked loudly, "Why should this child be forced to travel so far to school each day?"
Linda didn't hear very much about the school situation after that. But the rest of the country did. There was an organization called the N-Double-A-C-P, which stood for: The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. With the help of the NAACP, Oliver Brown sued the Topeka Board of Education. According to the law, it was okay for the black and white children to be sent to separate schools, as long as those schools were considered to be equal. The school authorities said the schools were equal. Although Sumner School was a little newer and prettier, Monroe School had a larger playground and fewer cracks in the walls. Both schools had good teachers (all white teachers at Sumner; all black teachers at Monroe). The teachers all had about the same size classes, and were paid the same amount of money. Although most of the black children lived farther away from their schools than the white children did, buses were provided for them. There were no buses for any of the white children. The school authorities said the people were used to things being this way, and not everyone wanted change. They said the children should continue to be segregated, or separated.
The people who testified in court on behalf of Linda (and others like her) said that these facts did not make the schools equal. The very fact that the children were separated made the schools unequal. The people said that the separation could make the children think they were different from one another, instead of teaching them that they could learn from each other. It meant that as adults, they would not work as well together or get along in our world because they had not been taught to be together as children. They said the children should not be separated and should go to the schools closest to them.
The court decided that the schools should continue to be segregated. Three judges had listened to the presentations. Although not all of them felt that this was the right thing to do, they felt they had no choice. Other cases that had been decided by the Supreme Court all supported the idea that separate-but-equal was okay, and this case seemed to fit the separate-but-equal guidelines.
The lawyers for the NAACP, Mr. Brown, and people in the other states with similar cases all decided to take this case to the Supreme Court. They said this case was different. The other cases were about transportation or students in college - not elementary school students. They said that the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution guaranteed everyone equal protection under the law, and that these elementary school students were not being protected equally. The case was called Brown v. Board of Education, ("v." stands for versus, which means against) and was argued before the Supreme Court in 1953. It was almost a year later - May 17, 1954 - when the justices made a decision.
It was one of the most important decisions made in the history of the United States, because it said that the previous cases - which may have been decided correctly in their time - were no longer correct in the 1950s. It said that separate was not equal, and that children of all races should be allowed to go to school together, in the schools in their neighborhoods.
Linda Brown never testified in court. But her father did, and so did many other people who had not even met her. Even though they were criticized by others, they worked hard for what they believed. Brown v. Board of Education is still one of the most famous cases in American history.
This is an optional follow-up activity that not only helps students learn to distinguish between fact and opinion but can also stimulate further discussion about the Brown case. Ask students to define the words fact and opinion. Give the following examples for students to distinguish as fact or opinion.
When satisfied that students understand the difference between the two terms, have them distinguish fact from opinion in the statements below. The statements can be duplicated, or the teacher can read them aloud.
Write F in the blank if the statement is a fact. Write O in the blank if the statement is an opinion.
Answers for Which Is It? are:
1. F, 2. O , 3. O , 4. F , 5. F , 6. O , 7. O , 8. O , 9. F , 10. F
Montgomery bus boycott, Voting Rights Act of 1965, Congress of Racial Equality, Little Rock (1957), murder of Emmett Till, Southern Christian Leadership Conference, sit-ins, Student Nonviolent Coordination Committee, Freedom Riders, Mississippi riot of 1962, March on Washington, Civil Rights Act of 1964, Medgar Evers, Black Panthers, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Mississippi Summer Project, March on Selma, Poor People's Campaign, de facto segregation. Students then use any available classroom and library materials, including the Internet, to answer the following questions about their events, legislation or organization:
DAY TWO - (to begin after students have completed research from Day One)
In a future class, proposals should be read, discussed, and edited, either to be possibly published in the school or local newspaper or to be sent to the appropriate leaders or officials.
This lesson plan was taken from the New York Times On the Web Learning Network website. It can be accessed at http://www.nytimes.com/learning/teachers/lessons/19990614monday.html?searchpv=learning_lessons.
The Catholic University of America is offering two programs this summer. Both programs are open to students between the ages of 12 and 18 years old.
The first program is the Capitol Hill Mock Trial Institute, a week- long program designed to enhance students ability to engage in mock trial and make them competitively successful in mock trial tournaments. Through large group lectures, skill sessions in breakout groups, and work on the camp trial itself, students will become proficient in all the skills necessary to compete effectively in mock trial competitions. The program is open to students of all ability levels, and will be structured accordingly, with advanced training for more experienced participants and beginner training for novices.
The second program is the Capitol Hill Youth Leadership Forum. It is designed for students who are politically or activist minded, and want to experience Washington D.C. Through field trips and guest lectures, students will learn about the law, government, lobbying, campaigning, the media, and many other ways in which law and politics are developed and undertaken.
For further information, please contact Aaron Fishbone at email@example.com or visit www.summerdebate.cua.edu/mock or www.summerdebate.cua.edu/leadership.
Law Wise is published by the Kansas Bar Association during the school year. The Kansas Bar Foundation, with Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts funding, provides support for this publication. Published free, on request, for teachers or anyone interested in law-related education, it is edited by Crystal Marietta, Pittsburg, (620) 231-5620. For further information about any projects or articles, contact Ron Keefover, Education and Information Officer of the Office of Judicial Administration, Topeka, (785) 296-4872, or Btissam Touijer, Public Services Director of the Kansas Bar Association, Topeka (785) 234-5696. Law Wise is printed at the Kansas Bar Association, 1200 Southwest Harrison, P.O. Box 1037, Topeka, Kansas 66601-1037.