Civics Education

In Our Public Schools

Operation Protect and Defend

Operation Protect & Defend (often referred to simply as “OPD”) is a program by lawyers, judges, and teachers committed to civics education in public schools that reflects the wisdom of retired Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy that “Democracy must be taught.”

According to the U.S. Department of Education’s National Assessment of Educational Progress (2014), three quarters of America’s students do not receive the effective education needed to perpetuate a democracy. The California Survey on Civic Education (2005) reveals that less than half of California high school seniors agree “Being actively involved in state and local issues is my responsibility.” Such words speak to the words of lawyer and educator Robert Maynard Hutchison who warned: “The death of democracy is not likely to be an assassination or ambush. It will be a slow extension from apathy, indifference, and undernourishment.”

We believe that the privilege of being admitted to the bench and bar carries with it a responsibility to serve the nation through fostering democratic principles. We also believe that working with teachers to help engage students in a dialogue about their citizenship rights and responsibilities under their Constitution and their government invigorates our democracy.

Top Sponsors of 2024

Modern Masters of America

Fine Art Contest

Operation Protect & Defends Modern Masters of America Fine Art Contest offers students the opportunity to express their views on important Constitutional issues through the vehicle of artistic expression.

Modern Masters of Art Submissions

Current Year Curriculum

This year, Operation Protect & Defend is focusing on the Second Amendment.

2023-2024 Student Curriculum:
70 Years After Brown v. Board of Education

2023-2024 Lesson Plan:
Operation Protect & Defend Lesson Plan (PDF)

Story of America Essay Prompt & Instructions:
2024 Essay Prompt Instructions (PDF)

A special message from the Chief Justice of California Tani Cantil-Sakauye

A special message from the California Secretary of State Alex Padilla