Sandra Day O'Connor gives civics lesson at OCU

Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor spoke Thursday at Oklahoma City University's School of Law about her new iCivics program and her life as the first woman to serve on the nation's highest court.
BY TRICIA PEMBERTON tpemberton@opubco.com Published: April 15, 2011

Cindy Koss, an assistant superintendent with the Education Department, said as part of Achieving Classroom Excellence standards, Oklahoma high schoolers take one unit of U.S. history and one-half to one unit of U.S. government, along with a half unit of Oklahoma history. They also must take an end-of-instruction test in U.S. history.

Koss said history also will be emphasized as part of the state's new Common Core Curriculum standards, adopted last year and being rolled out through 2014 in state schools.

Curtright said history also is emphasized at the fifth- and eighth-grade levels.

‘Words of encouragement'

O'Connor spent much of her time Thursday telling stories from her life and her time as the first woman to serve on the nation's highest court.

When asked whether she ever aspired to be a Supreme Court justice, she answered, “Oh no. There's no use sitting around there thinking ‘Gee, I'd like to be on the Supreme Court someday.'”

In fact, she said she felt inadequate when President Ronald Reagan asked to nominate her for the court.

“It's fine to be the first, but I didn't want to be the last woman,” she said.

O'Connor charged the students with learning to “read fast and write well ... and it doesn't hurt to learn how to speak in public.”

Hard work is another must to succeed, she said.

OCU undergraduate student Dario Elizondo, 22, said he found O'Connor insightful and energetic.

“She gave several specific instructions that as a prospective law student I will use,” Elizondo said. “I will take from her the words of encouragement to continue working hard.”

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