Working for Justice: A Letter to the Discovering Justice Community

For twenty years, Discovering justice has worked with lawyers, judges, teachers, and parents in civic education to teach thousands of students and others about the workings and dispositions of the American justice system.

It is abundantly clear to all of us that this justice system does not work for everyone. 

We recognize the disturbing realities of the nation’s unjust policies, police brutality, and a legal system that has embraced draconian mandatory minimum and lengthy prison sentences for non-violent offenses, resulting in imprisoning Black people at a rate five times greater than whites. 

We recognize that Black people carry a grossly disproportionate burden of this flawed system. The recent killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many others have only made it more painful, and have highlighted for the world that systemic racism, brutality, and social injustice persist in our nation and neighborhoods. 

We need a justice system that provides fairness and dignity for all. 

We all need to do better. Discovering Justice is upgrading and adding to its civic education programs to do a better job at exploring the values and concepts of justice and how it plays out under the Constitution. We are working with our partners to make sure our programs help students identify and highlight where the system needs attention and improvement. And we are developing opportunities to better engage students to use their voices and be powerful advocates for change. 

We applaud the hundreds of thousands of Americans who have brought their frustration and voices to the streets demanding that our political leaders take action to address these systemic problems that have plagued our country for hundreds of years. Our nation was founded and continues to better itself, catalyzed by those who speak up for change and work to hold their government and their leaders accountable.

We must have faith in and invest in our youth. New leadership and the passionate and talented staff at Discovering Justice are dedicated to doubling down on our work to provide students with the skills and opportunities to develop into future leaders.

The Board and Staff of Discovering Justice

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Discovering Justice with Judge Wolohojian and Special Guests

As schools have closed and learning has moved online, parents and classroom teachers are facing challenges as they adapt to remote learning. We are all working to create new and creative opportunities to engage our students.

Judge Gabrielle Wolohojian and a number of special guests including Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey worked with Discovering Justice to develop and deliver an innovative online mock trial unit.
Over the course of 5-6 online sessions, students ranging from 8-11 years old prepared to engage in a mock trial concerning an Indigenous tribe and a museum and the rightful ownership of tribal artifacts displayed in an exhibit at the museum. Students analyzed evidence, used evidence to build an argument, discussed themes of justice and civic duty, and presented their cases to the Judge.
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Students as Superheroes

At Discovering Justice, we know that students are superheroes when they engage in issues in their communities.

 During a time when COVID-19 has thrown students off of their regular routines, and people across America are rallying against injustice, Discovering Justice has provided an opportunity for them to stand up and stand out.

Discovering Justice’s Civics Superhero Contest asked students to get active and create a project that works for justice and/or supports others during COVID-19. We have received more than 100 submissions. Award winners will be announced July 1 and will be featured on Discovering Justice’s website and social media.

Click here to see a sample of the submissions.

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Kayla Nordman

Kayla Nordman believes strongly in expanding access to comprehensive civic education to provide the next generation with the resources they need to uphold and expand upon the values of American democracy and create a more equitable future. Before joining Discovering Justice, she worked as a Legislative Intern at the Massachusetts State House and as a Program Manager for the Massachusetts Center for Civic Education. Kayla graduated from Suffolk University with a BA in International Relations.