Conference Aims to Draw Law Students From Across the Country to Front Lines of Education Reform

Events include screening of school reform documentary “Waiting For Superman”


WASHINGTON, DC, September 20, 2010 – American University Washington College of Law is proud to announce an event titled “Constitution from the Courts” taking place September 24-26, which aims to bring together  law students from across the country in the continuing effort to improve public education in the United States. 

This weekend event will educate participants about the Marshall Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project – a program that puts law students in high school classrooms to teach students about their constitutional rights, supplying vital teaching resources to participating school districts and connecting students with the intersection of law and education.

"This conference will bring together students, teachers, activists, lawyers, and others interested in education reform to think critically about meaningful change,” said Maryam Ahranjani, associate director of the Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project.  “This event will give us this opportunity to share, reflect, strategize, and act to make our public schools the best they can be."

The conference breaks down into four main parts:

  • Seminars with renowned experts in constitutional law, on topics including the current state of the right to education, barriers to education for immigrant children, the role of lawyers in U.S. public education, and more;
  • Screening of Waiting for Superman, Oscar-winning filmmaker Davis Guggenheim's look at the failing American education system, which includes interviews with DC Public School Chancellor Michelle Rhee;
  • A local Washington DC volunteer project;
  • A basketball tournament with games woven into the seminar programming, with both law students and local DC high school students participating.

The conference will attract a diverse set of potential Marshall-Brennan participants, and will educate them on the current issues in education reform and the law.  The setting will foster an environment of informal interaction, and the basketball portion will promote healthy stress relief – an outlet that law students can always appreciate.

Named in honor of the late United States Supreme Court Justices Thurgood Marshall and William J. Brennan, Jr. the Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project was designed to mobilize talented second- and third-year law students to teach courses on constitutional law and juvenile justice in public high schools in the District of Columbia and Maryland. The national program is headquartered at the Washington College of Law in Washington, D.C., and the program has expanded to licensed chapters in law schools across the country.

This movement for constitutional literacy is rooted in the belief that students will profit for a lifetime from learning the system of rights and responsibilities under the U.S. Constitution. Many citizens do not participate and feel disengaged from politics. The Marshall-Brennan Fellows work with teachers, administrators and lawyers to teach students their rights as citizens, the strategic benefits of voting, how lawmaking occurs and other fundamental constitutional processes.

Sponsors for the event include Nixon Peabody LLP and Lagunitas Brewing Company.  For more information on the weekend’s events, including registration information, videos, and photos of past Marshall-Brennan participants, please go to

Full Agenda:


Friday, September 24

5:30 to 7:00 p.m. - Welcome Reception and remarks by American University Washington College of Law Dean Claudio Grossman (law school lobby) - Address by Mary Beth Tinker, plaintiff in the landmark Supreme Court case Tinker v. Des Moines Independent School District, which defined the rights of students in public schools. Appetizers and beverages will be provided.

6:00 to 9:00 p.m. - First Round of Basketball Games (adults only) at the American University Bender Arena

9:30 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. - Icebreaker and VIP dinner at District Lounge—hosted by HOT 99.5 FM

Saturday, September 25

9:00 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. - Basketball Games and Morning Seminars

12:30 to 2:00 p.m. - Luncheon w/ DC Bar President Ron Flagg and NEA Vice President Lily Eskelsen a Famoso Restaurant & Lounge

3:00 to 4:30 p.m. - Basketball Games continue and Afternoon Panel

4:30 to 7:00 p.m. – Mentoring Reception, 6th Floor Cafeteria

Sunday, September 26

11:00 a.m. - Debut screening of Waiting for Superman, Oscar-winning filmmaker Davis Guggenheim's look at the American education system at Landmark E Street Cinema (555 11th Street, NW)

2:00 p.m. – Championship Basketball Game