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Rendell Center and APPC to Collaborate on Civic Education

The Rendell Center for Civics and Civic Engagement celebrated its relocation to the Annenberg Public Policy Center (APPC) in a May 4 kickoff event showcasing their mutual interest in civic education and judicial independence.

“We very much admire what they do,” APPC director Kathleen Hall Jamieson told an invited audience of leaders from the region’s legal, judicial, education and civics communities who gathered at the policy center. “It’s as if we had been planning to do this all along, and reached just the right moment.”

Judge Marjorie O. Rendell of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the Rendell Center is carrying on the civics-education work she began as First Lady when her husband, Ed Rendell, was governor of Pennsylvania. “The mission of The Rendell Center is to promote civic education and engagement,” she said. “To do this, The Rendell Center offers opportunities for educators and the broader community to develop the knowledge, practices and dispositions of engaged citizenship.”

The Rendell Center has focused on civics education in the elementary grades, while APPC has emphasized middle and high school. Both are committed as well to collaborating on efforts to further judicial independence.

The afternoon kickoff event featured lawyers Barry Richard and Andrew Pincus, who had argued the U.S. Supreme Court case Williams-Yulee v. The Florida Bar, in a moderated discussion with Judge Rendell, former Gov. Rendell, and 3rd Circuit Chief Judge Theodore McKee. The Supreme Court had ruled 5-4 in the case to uphold the right of states to regulate campaign solicitations by judges. Pincus had represented Lanell Williams-Yulee, who signed a fundraising letter when running for judicial office in 2009; Richard represented the Florida Bar.

The kickoff program also included one of the winning skits from the Rendell Center’s second annual “Citizenship Challenge,” featuring teacher Joan Carter Williams’ fourth-grade class at Philadelphia’s E.M. Stanton School. For the Citizenship Challenge, class teams write essays on issues facing democracy, and Williams’ class addressed voting.

Earlier in the day, the Rendell Center sponsored a youth mayoral forum at which Philadelphia’s mayoral candidates took questions from fourth- and fifth-grade students. The event, with Rendell Center co-founder Ed Rendell and moderator Renee Chenault-Fattah saw candidates Doug Oliver, former City Councilman Jim Kenney, state Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams, former District Attorney Lynne Abraham, and former Common Pleas Court Judge Nelson Diaz taking questions from the students.

News coverage of the mayoral forum included: