What is a Street Law Course?
Since 1975, social studies teachers across the country have taught Street Law courses to high school students. These courses teach young people about law that is practical and relevant to their lives. Street Law courses strive to empower young people to be active, engaged citizens by equipping them with the knowledge and skills they need to successfully partcipate and create change in their communities.
Often the courses are simply called "Street Law." However, across the country the courses take on many names, including "Law and the Legal System" and "The American Legal System." The course is typically offered as an elective and uses Street Law: A Course in Practical Law as its foundational text and curriculum. The text is currently in its 10th edition and is published and sold by McGraw-Hill Education.
Street Law, Inc. authors the text and its ancillary materials, develops supplementary resources that can be used to enhance law and other social studies courses, and supports teachers through professional development.
In most cases, these elective law classes are taught at the high school level; however, with adaptation, it is possible to teach many of the course's topics to middle and elementary school students. Most of Street Law's resources can be modified for various age groups. Other organizations also offer high quality law-related education resources for younger students.
Teachers may also consider integrating sections of the Street Law curriculum into an existing social studies course, such as civics or U.S. government.
Street Law's curriculum and resources can support a variety of social studies needs, including aligning with a number of Common Core English Language Arts literacy standards.
Benefits of a Street Law Course
A Street Law course benefits young people in numerous ways! It provides them with practical, relevant content that they can use in their daily lives, while developing skills that are important for civic and workplace success.
The Street Law curriculum was developed as a practical course in law and legal issues for high school students. It is filled with high-quality content that applies directly to students’ lives. Relatable content helps promote student engagement and active participation, which contributes to both student achievement and an interest in the law. For teachers in search of student-centered curriculum, Street Law activities can meet a number of instructional needs. (Learn more about the Street Law textbook.)
Civic Mission of Schools
The Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools is a coalition of over 70 national civic learning, education, civic engagement and business groups committed to improving the quality and quantity of civic learning in American schools. The Campaign's goal is to increase and improve civic learning in grades K-12 by working for policies that implement the recommendations in a 2011 report, Guardian of Democracy: The Civic Mission of Schools.
Both reports call on policy makers to recognize the importance of expanding and strengthening school-based civic education programs as a means of sustaining our democratic traditions. The Street Law curriculum supports this premise: not only does the Street Law curriculum promote legal understanding, it nurtures democratic principles such as active participation, respect for equality, and thoughtful deliberation.
Common Core State Standards
The Street Law course provides authentic context that helps students develop the reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills that are central to the Common Core. A Street Law elective course will provide students with opportunities to demonstrate proficiency within the English Language Arts Literacy standards. Students who take part in Street Law activities discuss and write about current and controversial issues, engage in simulations of democratic practices, receive pertinent civic instruction, and learn how to formulate arguments in support of policies they advocate. (Learn more about how Street Law aligns with the Common Core State Standards.)
There are many opportunities throughout the Street Law curriculum to either bring community resources into the classroom or to travel outside the classroom to connect students to their local legal community. While standards alignment is important, so too is the opportunity for students to see real life examples of how the legal community functions. Adding community connections to an already rich legal curriculum can bring the law to life for your students, while giving students the opportunity to consider possible careers in law, law enforcement, and government.