The purpose of citizenship education is to contribute to the health of our democracy1 and to EMPOWER STUDENTS “TO TRANSLATE THEIR BELIEFS INTO ACTIONS AND THEIR IDEAS INTO POLICIES. ” THE PRIMARY GOAL OF THE DELAWARE CIVICS STANDARDS IS STUDENT UNDERSTANDING OF THE PURPOSE AND means of authority2 and freedom3 and the relationship between them. CIVICS DIRECTLY ADDRESSES CITIZENSHIP EDUCATION WITHIN THE CONTEXT OF POLITICAL SYSTEMS. STUDENTS STUDY THE ASSUMPTIONS UPON WHICH GOVERNMENTS ARE FOUNDED, AND THE ORGANIZATIONS AND STRATEGIES GOVERNMENTS EMPLOY TO ACHIEVE THEIR GOALS.
WITH SPECIFIC RESPECT TO THE UNITED STATES, STUDENTS LEARN THE UNDERLYING PRINCIPLES OF REPRESENTATIVE DEMOCRACY, THE CONSTITUTIONAL SEPARATION OF POWERS, AND THE RULE OF LAW. THEY NEED TO COMPREHEND THAT AN ESSENTIAL PREMISE OF REPRESENTATIVE DEMOCRACY IS THE WILLINGNESS OF CITIZENS TO PLACE A HIGH PREMIUM ON THEIR OWN PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY FOR PARTICIPATION IN SOCIAL DECISION-MAKING. STUDENTS DEVELOP THE SKILLS WHICH CITIZENS MUST POSSESS IN ORDER TO DISCHARGE THOSE RESPONSIBILITIES WHILE PROTECTING THEIR RIGHTS AND THE RIGHTS OF OTHERS.
THE STUDY OF CIVICS PREPARES STUDENTS TO TRANSLATE THEIR BELIEFS INTO ACTIONS AND THEIR IDEAS INTO POLICIES. GOVERNMENTS EXIST AND ARE INSTITUTED FOR SPECIFIC PURPOSES AND EMPLOY A VARIETY OF ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURES TO PURSUE THEIR OBJECTIVES. CONSTITUTIONAL DEMOCRACY ATTEMPTS TO BALANCE INDIVIDUAL FREEDOM WITH THE NEEDS OF THE SOCIETY AS A WHOLE. AMERICAN CITIZENS NEED A BASIC UNDERSTANDING OF THE STRUCTURE OF DIFFERENT FORMS OF GOVERNMENT AND A DETAILED KNOWLEDGE OF A CONSTITUTIONAL DEMOCRACY. 1 Democracy means government by the people, though in practice this means that the citizens of a democracy get to elect their leaders and hold them accountable.
In its simplest form, democracy is “rule by the majority,” but in the modern sense democracy implies civil rights, legal equality and limited government as well. 2 Authority has various meanings, though its simplest meaning in terms of general governmental authority is the right to rule.
More specifically, authority refers to the recognized right to decide, adjudicate, and command. Authority also implies the obedience of those subject to it. In a democracy, authority is gained through democratic rules. Office holders must be elected; the authority of officials who implement laws (i.e. , bureaucrats and police) derives from the authority of elected office holders and is granted in accordance with established laws and procedures. 3 Freedom is the primary principle of modern democracy, but it is a rather ambiguous concept. In America, we tend to view freedom as an absence of interference with our chosen objectives. A lack of government interference is essentially what we mean by liberty, often used as a synonym of freedom.
Some stress that freedom is the ability to actually achieve what we want and believe the state is obligated to help provide the means (i. e., education, health care, jobs) to help us. Delaware Civics Standard – Grades 6–8 1 Students will learn the underlying principles of representative democracy,4 the constitutional separation of powers,5 and the rule of law,6 with specific respect to the United States. The AMERICAN POLITICAL SYSTEM WAS INTENTIONALLY CREATED TO REST ON A FOUNDATION OF INDIVIDUAL LIBERTY, FREEDOM OF RELIGION, REPRESENTATIVE DEMOCRACY, EQUAL OPPORTUNITY, AND EQUAL PROTECTION UNDER THE LAW. THESE PRINCIPLES AND IDEALS ARE CODIFIED IN THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION, THE BILL OF RIGHTS, AND OTHER SIGNIFICANT DOCUMENTS.
UNDERSTANDING, ACHIEVING, AND UPHOLDING THESE PRINCIPLES AND IDEALS REPRESENT A MAJOR CHALLENGE TO EACH SUCCEEDING GENERATION OF AMERICAN CITIZENS. STUDENTS WILL DEVELOP THE SKILLS WHICH CITIZENS MUST POSSESS IN ORDER TO ACCEPT THEIR RESPONSIBILITIES WHILE PROTECTING THEIR RIGHTS AND THE RIGHTS OF OTHERS. THE POLITICAL, RELIGIOUS, AND ECONOMIC FREEDOMS PROVIDED TO AMERICAN CITIZENS ARE ACCOMPANIED BY THE RESPONSIBILITY OF ACTIVE CIVIC PARTICIPATION AT THE INDIVIDUAL, COMMUNITY, STATE, AND NATIONAL LEVELS. EFFECTIVE CITIZENS NEED TO UNDERSTAND THE DEDICATION AND COMMITMENT NECESSARY TO SAFEGUARD THOSE RIGHTS.
FOR THEMSELVES AND FUTURE GENERATIONS AS WELL AS THE POTENTIAL CONSEQUENCES OF INACTION. THEY SHOULD ALSO BE ABLE TO DISTINGUISH BETWEEN RIGHTS AND PRIVILEGES. STUDENTS WILL LEARN TO TRANSLATE THEIR BELIEFS INTO ACTIONS AND THEIR IDEAS INTO POLICIES. THE INTENT TO PARTICIPATE IN THE AMERICAN POLITICAL SYSTEM MUST BE MATCHED WITH THE SPECIFIC SKILLS NECESSARY TO BE EFFECTIVE. SUCH SKILLS INCLUDE, BUT ARE NOT LIMITED TO, REGISTERING TO VOTE, INTERACTING SUCCESSFULLY WITH GOVERNMENT AGENCIES, ORGANIZING AND WORKING IN CIVIC GROUPS, RESEARCHING AND ADVOCATING A POSITION, OR SERVING IN AN OFFICE OF PUBLIC TRUST.
The Delaware Civics Standards call for understanding the purposes,7 principles,8 and generalizations9 that infuse the concepts in the standards with their contextual meaning. 4 All modern democracies are representative democracies, at least on the national level. In representative democracies, citizens vote for people to represent them in legislatures, where the laws are made. This is different from direct democracies where citizens vote directly on the laws without an intermediary. Some states allow plebiscites where citizens can vote directly on propositions that, if successful, become law.
But these are minor exceptions to the rule that almost all law is made by elected representatives. 5 Governments make laws, administer laws, and adjudicate laws. When the powers needed to serve these functions are given to separate institutions—i. e. , legislative, executive, and judicial bodies—the powers of government have been separated as a means to create checks and balances on those who wield such powers. 6 The rule of law is contrary to the “rule of men” by insisting that those with governmental authority must abide by standing law in their decisions and actions. The rule of law is fundamental to democracy.
7 The purpose of something is its reason for existence, the end something is meant to serve. It answers the question “Why? ” that is fundamental to understanding—and judging—government and all the issues surrounding it. 8 Principles are fundamental values that define social objectives and are used to guide the effort to achieve them. For example, freedom, equality, and rule of law are principles that represent what we value and hope to achieve. They also serve as a barometer for judging whether our actions, or the actions of government, are in keeping with our fundamental values or not.
9 Generalizations are what we propose as generally true. For example, if we say that stable democracy depends on a sizable middle class or that power corrupts or that people in cities are usually more liberal than people in rural areas, we are generalizing. Delaware Civics Standard – Grades 6–8 2 CIVICS STANDARD ONE: STUDENTS WILL EXAMINE THE STRUCTURE AND PURPOSES OF GOVERNMENTS WITH SPECIFIC EMPHASIS ON CONSTITUTIONAL DEMOCRACY [GOVERNMENT]. ENDURING UNDERSTANDINGS STUDENTS WILL UNDERSTAND THAT: •Constitutional democracy10 as a structure of government developed from the tension BETWEEN THE NEED FOR AUTHORITY AND THE NEED TO CONSTRAIN AUTHORITY. •Governments are structured to address the basic needs of the people in a society.
THE KEY TO UNDERSTANDING THE PURPOSES, PRINCIPLES, AND GENERALIZATIONS CALLED FOR IN THE STANDARDS IS TO BEGIN WITH THE QUESTION “WHY? ” FOR EXAMPLE, STANDARD ONE SAYS, “STUDENTS WILL EXAMINE THE STRUCTURE AND PURPOSES OF GOVERNMENTS WITH SPECIFIC EMPHASIS ON CONSTITUTIONAL DEMOCRACY. ” THE PURPOSES OF GOVERNMENTS, OF COURSE, ARE THE “WHY” OF GOVERNMENTS. BEGINNING WITH THE QUESTION, “WHY DO WE HAVE GOVERNMENT?
” YIELDS THE QUESTION, “WHAT NEEDS DOES GOVERNMENT ADDRESS? ” THE ANSWER TO THIS QUESTION IS THE FOUNDATIONAL UNDERSTANDING FOR THE BENCHMARKS OF THE STANDARD. THE STRUCTURE OF GOVERNMENTS IS DETERMINED IN PART BY HISTORY AND CUSTOM, BUT MOSTLY THEY GROW FROM WHAT REASON AND EXPERIENCE HAVE TAUGHT SOCIETIES ABOUT THE organizational requirements for achieving the purposes of government. 11 YOU CAN DERIVE THE BASIC PURPOSES OF GOVERNMENT BY IMAGINING A COMMUNITY AND QUESTIONING WHAT NEEDS OF A COMMUNITY MIGHT REQUIRE AUTHORITY TO ADDRESS. IN FACT, MOST FAMOUS POLITICAL
PHILOSOPHERS (PLATO, ARISTOTLE, HOBBES, LOCKE, ROUSSEAU, FOR EXAMPLE) HAVE USED THE DEVICE OF THE IMAGINARY COMMUNITY TO EXPLAIN THEIR VERSION OF THE PURPOSES OF THE STATE IN TERMS SO SIMPLE THAT EVEN GRADE SCHOOL STUDENTS CAN EASILY UNDERSTAND THEM. ALL GOVERNMENTS INVARIABLY ADDRESS BASICALLY THE SAME NEEDS: SECURITY, ORDER, AND THE WELFARE OF THE COMMONWEALTH. THEY ALL MAKE, ENFORCE, AND ADJUDICATE LAW TO MEET THE NEED FOR ORDER, ORGANIZE THE COMMON DEFENSE, AND PROVIDE SERVICES TO PROMOTE THE WELFARE OF THE CITIZENS. THE STRUCTURES OF GOVERNMENTS REFLECT THE WAYS GOVERNMENTS ARE ORGANIZED TO PERFORM THESE FUNCTIONS.
The basic purposes and principles of government—including the responsibilities of citizenship12 IN A GENERAL SENSE—CAN BE ILLUMINATED WITH THE EXPERIENCES OF THE STUDENTS. FAMILIES MEET NEEDS OF SECURITY, ORDER, AND WELFARE WITH THE PRINCIPLE OF AUTHORITY, AS DO SCHOOLS AND COMMUNITIES. THE THEMES OF AUTHORITY, OBEDIENCE, RESPONSIBILITY—AND THE VERY IMPORTANT CONSTRAINTS ON AUTHORITY FOR THE PROTECTION AND FREEDOM OF THE RULED—ARE FOUND IN THE SOCIAL CONTEXT OF EVERY STUDENT. IF STUDENTS CAN LEARN HOW TO SEE THE PURPOSES, PRINCIPLES, AND GENERALIZATIONS SUGGESTED BY THE STANDARD IN THEIR OWN EXPERIENCES, THEY BECOME EASIER TO UNDERSTAND AND RETAIN AND MORE RELEVANT.
10 Constitutional democracy formally embraces the principle of rule of law by obligating the government to abide by the structures, powers, processes, and limits set forth in a constitution. 11 Though the purposes of governments are essentially the same, all governments have peculiar organizational structures and processes. Modern governments are large, complex bureaucracies that evolved in response to peculiar needs and problems. Even when the structures of governments seem similar, one finds that they operatevery differently.
The government of Japan is a parliamentary system that is superficially similar to that of Great Britain, but the two systems are very different in how they function. 12 Citizenship is a legal status where a person is vested with rights, privileges, and duties as a recognized member of a state. In modern democracies, citizens are considered free and equal participants in their own governance. Delaware Civics Standard – Grades 6–8 3 THE EMPHASIS ON CONSTITUTIONAL DEMOCRACY CALLED FOR IN THE STANDARD REFLECTS THE ENDURING HUMAN STRUGGLE TO FIND A WAY TO PROTECT OURSELVES FROM OUR PROTECTORS.
THE TENSION BETWEEN THE NEED FOR AUTHORITY AND THE NEED TO CONSTRAIN AUTHORITY IS A PROMINENT THEME OF HISTORY AND IS AN INHERENT CONDITION OF LIFE. THE HISTORICALLY REMARKABLE RISE AND SPREAD OF CONSTITUTIONAL DEMOCRACY evolved from both the abuse of authority13 and a rekindled belief in the desirability of individual freedom14.
The embedded concepts of a higher law15 that constrains the makers and enforcers of law (constitutions), accountability of rulers (democratic processes), and civil rights16 AROSE FROM AN ABUNDANTLY JUSTIFIED DISTRUST OF POWER AND A GROWING CONSENSUS THAT ONE OF THE PURPOSES OF THE STATE IS THE PROTECTION AND PROMOTION OF THE FREEDOM OF ITS CITIZENS. NEW STRUCTURES OF GOVERNMENT WERE DEVISED TO BETTER FULFILL AND SECURE THIS NEW PURPOSE OF GOVERNMENT.
THE NEED FOR AUTHORITY AND THE NEED TO CONSTRAIN IT IS THE FOUNDATIONAL UNDERSTANDING CALLED FOR BY CIVICS STANDARD ONE. THE STRUCTURES OF MODERN GOVERNMENTS DEVELOPED FROM THE EXPERIENCES OF PEOPLE TRYING TO MEET THESE TWIN NEEDS. CIVICS STANDARD ONE 6-8A: STUDENTS WILL UNDERSTAND THAT GOVERNMENTS HAVE THE POWER TO MAKE AND ENFORCE LAWS AND REGULATIONS, LEVY TAXES, CONDUCT FOREIGN POLICY, AND MAKE WAR.
ESSENTIAL QUESTION ?WHY DOES A GOVERNMENT HAVE CERTAIN POWERS? THE FOCUS HERE IS ON UNDERSTANDING THE NEED FOR THESE POWERS (THE WHY? ) AND HAVING A GENERAL KNOWLEDGE OF WHAT THESE SPECIFIC POWERS ENTAIL. THE NEED FOR ORDER AND SECURITY WITHIN IS ADDRESSED THROUGH THE POWER TO MAKE AND ENFORCE LAWS AND REGULATIONS. THE NEED TO PROMOTE NATIONAL INTERESTS ABROAD, ESPECIALLY SECURITY AND ECONOMIC INTERESTS, IS ADDRESSED BY THE POWER TO CONDUCT FOREIGN POLICY. THE POWER TO MAKE WAR ARISES PRIMARILY FROM THE NEED FOR SECURITY. THE POWER TO LEVY TAXES ARISES FROM THE NEED TO PAY FOR IT ALL.
OPEN-ENDED QUESTIONS THAT TEACHERS MIGHT ASK IN A CLASSROOM INCLUDE: 1. WHY DOES THE GOVERNMENT ENFORCE THEIR LAWS WITH POLICE RATHER THAN ALLOW PEOPLE TO BE FREE? 2. WHY DOES THE GOVERNMENT TAKE TAXES OUT OF OUR PAYCHECKS? 3. WHY DOES THE GOVERNMENT PARTICIPATE IN WARS? 13 In a democracy, governmental authority is granted on the condition that it is exercised in service to the public rather than private interest, and in strict accordance with the law. When authority is used corruptly, as in taking bribes in return for influencing government decisions, or illegally, as in exercising powers not accorded to an office,
it has been abused. Abuse of authority is a serious matter in a democracy for it violates vital constraints on authority and undermines public trust in government. 14 Unlike group, city, or corporate freedoms of past monarchies, freedom is explicitly granted to individual citizens in modern democracies. Experience has taught that individual freedom is the foundation of all freedom. 15 The concept of a “higher” law is usually applied to constitutions. Since governments make law, there is need for law that limits the lawmaking powers of government, which implies law beyond easy revision by legislatures.
Constitutions address this need and provide law that governs governments. 16 Civil rights are essentially freedoms a government is legally obligated to respect such as freedom of expression and religion. Delaware Civics Standard – Grades 6–8 4 4. WHO GAVE THE U. S. GOVERNMENT THE POWER TO ENFORCE LAWS? WHY? 5. WHAT DOES IT MEAN THAT GOVERNMENTS HAVE POWERS? CIVICS STANDARD ONE 6-8B: STUDENTS WILL ANALYZE THE DIFFERENT FUNCTIONS OF FEDERAL, STATE, AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS IN THE UNITED STATES AND EXAMINE THE REASONS FOR THE DIFFERENT ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURES EACH LEVEL OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYS. ESSENTIAL QUESTION:
?WHAT DIFFERENT NEEDS SHOULD BE ADDRESSED BY THE DIFFERENT LEVELS OF GOVERNMENT? The student should understand the general concept of federalism17: a territorial division of power BASED ON THE OVERALL SOVEREIGNTY OF THE NATIONAL GOVERNMENT WITH CONSTITUTIONALLY GUARANTEED POWERS FOR STATE GOVERNMENTS WITHIN THE BOUNDARIES OF THEIR RESPECTIVE STATES. IN THEORY, THIS DIVISION OF POWER IS CLEARLY DELINEATED AND DISTINGUISHABLE. IN REALITY, HOWEVER, THE FLOW OF POWER HAS SHIFTED OVER TIME BETWEEN THE FEDERAL AND STATE GOVERNMENTS AND HAS RESULTED IN ALTERNATING PERIODS OF COOPERATION, CONFLICT, AND CONTROVERSY THROUGHOUT THE COURSE OF AMERICAN.
HISTORY. MORE THAN 200 YEARS AFTER THE SIGNING OF THE CONSTITUTION, AMERICANS CONTINUE TO DISAGREE ABOUT THE PROPER ROLE FOR THESE LEVELS OF GOVERNMENT. THEN THE STUDENT SHOULD UNDERSTAND THE UNITED STATES HAS ADOPTED A FEDERAL SYSTEM FOR A VARIETY of reasons including our negative experiences with unitary18 (as British colonies) and confederal19 systems (under the Articles of Confederation), the distrust of centralized power, the RELATIVE SENSITIVITY OF STATE OR LOCAL GOVERNMENTS TO THE PARTICULAR NEEDS AND VIEWS OF THEIR CITIZENS, AND THE RELATIVE EFFICIENCY OF STATE OR LOCAL GOVERNMENTS IN RESPONDING TO THESE NEEDS.
AND VIEWS. ADVANTAGES TO FEDERALISM INCLUDE ALLOWING A VARIETY OF “LOCAL” GOVERNMENTS TO DEAL WITH LOCAL PROBLEMS WHILE ALLOWING LOCAL VOTERS TO HOLD LOCAL OFFICIALS ACCOUNTABLE, PERMITTING 17 In a federal system, the national government shares power with lower levels of government. In the United States, the governments of the 50 states have their own traffic laws, welfare provisions, educational systems, tax systems, criminal laws, court systems, and police. Some powers, such as those involving international relations, national defense, and monetary policy, are reserved for the national government.
Federal systems differ, of course. In Canada, the provinces have somewhat more autonomy than in the United States, while German states have less. Among the advantages of federalism are greater sensitivity and quicker response to local concerns and more constraint on central power. Federalism can complicate and weaken attempts to address national needs, however. This can be seen, for example, in attempts to promote national educational reform while education is primarily a state prerogative.
18 The hallmark of unitary systems is the lack of autonomy of sub-national levels of government. In unitary systems, the authority of regional and local governments derives from the national government and can be theoretically altered and suspended by the national government. This is the case within the states in the United States. For example, the three counties of Delaware do not have constitutionally guaranteed powers; the state government can intervene in their affairs at will. Great Britain and France were once models of unitary systems, but both have gradually devolved a degree of autonomy to lower levels of government. The main advantage of unitary systems is their ability to impose national laws and standards on all corners of the country.
Lack of sensitivity and response to local concerns is one of the drawbacks. 19 In confederate systems, the constituent states do not relinquish sovereignty. They agree to allow a central government to coordinate defense, monetary, and trade policies, but reserve the right to pull out of the confederation and become completely independent at will. The Confederacy of the Southern states during the American Civil War fought for the right to secede from the union. Theoretically, they also had the right to secede from the Confederacy as well. The main advantage of a confederacy is that the states can coordinate laws and policies without relinquishing sovereignty.
Confederations usually do not endure, however. The problems of coordination either lead to federalism, as happened in the adoption of the U. S. constitution, or they break up into independent states. Delaware Civics Standard – Grades 6–8 5 MORE POINTS OF ACCESS AND GREATER OPPORTUNITIES FOR POLITICAL PARTICIPATION, BETTER PROTECTIONS FOR INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS, AND FEWER CONSTRAINTS ON INNOVATION. THE BENCHMARK ALSO EXPLICITLY CALLS FOR KNOWLEDGE OF THE REASONS FOR THE DIFFERENT STRUCTURES OF GOVERNMENT AT EACH LEVEL, WHICH ESSENTIALLY ARISE FROM THE DIFFERENCES IN NEEDS ADDRESSED.
GENERALLY STATED, THE FUNCTIONS OF THE NATIONAL GOVERNMENT INCLUDE NATIONAL DEFENSE, MONETARY POLICY, AND FOREIGN REPRESENTATION. INFRASTRUCTURE, PROTECTION FROM CRIME, WELFARE, EDUCATION, AND OTHER PRACTICAL NEEDS ARE MORE CLEARLY THE RESPONSIBILITY OF STATE GOVERNMENTS. SEWAGE, GARBAGE, CULTURE, URBAN DEVELOPMENT, AND TRAFFIC CONTROL ARE USUALLY THE TASKS OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT. OPEN-ENDED QUESTIONS THAT TEACHERS MIGHT ASK IN A CLASSROOM INCLUDE: 1. WHAT FUNCTIONS DOES THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT HAVE THAT STATE GOVERNMENTS DO NOT HAVE? WHY IS THERE A DIFFERENCE?
2. WHY MIGHT THE DIFFERENT FUNCTIONS OF FEDERAL, STATE, AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS REQUIRE THEM TO HAVE DIFFERENT ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURES? 3. WHY DO STATES USUALLY LEAVE GARBAGE COLLECTION AND PARKING LAWS UP TO TOWNS AND CITIES IN THE STATE? 4. WHY DO MOST CITIES IN AMERICA HAVE THEIR OWN POLICE FORCE? Delaware Civics Standard – Grades 6–8 6 CIVICS STANDARD TWO: STUDENTS WILL UNDERSTAND THE PRINCIPLES AND IDEALS UNDERLYING THE AMERICAN POLITICAL SYSTEM [POLITICS]. ENDURING UNDERSTANDING STUDENTS WILL UNDERSTAND THAT: ?THE PRINCIPLES AND IDEALS UNDERLYING AMERICAN DEMOCRACY ARE DESIGNED TO PROMOTE THE FREEDOM OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE. FUNDAMENTAL IDEALS ARE ENUMERATED IN THE INTRODUCTION TO THIS STANDARD—INDIVIDUAL LIBERTY, FREEDOM OF RELIGION, REPRESENTATIVE DEMOCRACY, EQUAL OPPORTUNITY, AND EQUAL PROTECTION UNDER THE LAW.
THIS IS NOT A COMPLETE LIST OF THE MAIN IDEALS OF AMERICAN DEMOCRACY, BUT THEY ARE UMBRELLA CONCEPTS. FOR EXAMPLE, THE PRINCIPLES OF LIMITED GOVERNMENT AND CIVIL RIGHTS ARE MEANS TO ACHIEVE INDIVIDUAL LIBERTY. AS WITH THE PREVIOUS STANDARD, UNDERSTANDING REQUIRES ANSWERS TO THE QUESTION, “WHY? ” YET THE STANDARD CALLS FOR A MORE DEVELOPED UNDERSTANDING OF THE MEANING AND ISSUES INVOLVED WITH LIBERTY AND EQUALITY. AN ESSENTIAL QUESTION FOR THIS STANDARD AS A WHOLE MIGHT BE, “WHY SHOULD PEOPLE BE FREE?
” FUNDAMENTAL ASSUMPTIONS ABOUT THE VALUE AND COMPETENCE OF HUMAN BEINGS AND THE IMPORTANCE OF FREEDOM TO HUMAN PURPOSE UNDERLIE THESE IDEALS. THESE IDEALS ALSO HAVE A DARK SIDE AND INVOLVE SERIOUS TRADEOFFS AND COSTS. THIS DEEPER UNDERSTANDING OF AMERICAN IDEALS BELONGS TO THE FREE MINDS OF A FREE PEOPLE AND IS REQUIRED BY CIVICS STANDARD TWO. CIVICS STANDARD TWO 6-8A: STUDENTS WILL UNDERSTAND THAT THE CONCEPT OF MAJORITY RULE DOES NOT MEAN THAT THE RIGHTS OF MINORITIES MAY BE DISREGARDED AND WILL EXAMINE AND APPLY THE PROTECTIONS ACCORDED THOSE MINORITIES IN THE AMERICAN POLITICAL SYSTEM. ESSENTIAL QUESTIONS?
HOW MIGHT THE MAJORITY THREATEN INDIVIDUAL AND MINORITY RIGHTS? ?WHY ARE CITIZENS PROTECTED BY THE CONSTITUTION? ?SHOULD INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS BE LIMITED? STUDENTS SHOULD UNDERSTAND THAT DEMOCRACY MEANS RULE BY THE PEOPLE, AND THAT MAJORITY VOTES ARE JUST AN ARBITRARY INDICATOR OF WHAT THE PEOPLE WANT. ALTHOUGH THAT PRINCIPLE IS CENTRAL TO THE AMERICAN POLITICAL SYSTEM, IT IS NOT ABSOLUTE. PEOPLE, INCLUDING LARGE NUMBERS OF THEM.
(I. E. , MAJORITIES), SOMETIMES ACT OUT OF ANGER, PREJUDICE, OR IGNORANCE AND ARE NOT ALWAYS WELL INFORMED. BY LIMITING THE PRINCIPLE OF MAJORITY RULE, AMERICANS HAVE ATTEMPTED TO BALANCE THE interests of individuals with the common good20. MAJORITY RULE PLACES A VERY IMPORTANT CONSTRAINT ON GOVERNMENTAL AUTHORITY, BUT IT IS COMPLETELY INSUFFICIENT TO PROTECT INDIVIDUAL LIBERTY. EVERY STUDENT DESTINED TO BECOME AN AMERICAN CITIZEN SHOULD UNDERSTAND THAT THE MAJORITY CAN BE AS MUCH OF A TYRANT AS ANY DICTATOR. THEY SHOULD understand that the addition of the Bill of Rights21 to the U. S. Constitution was motivated by the 20 The simple definition of the common good is the good of all or most. What benefits only one or a few, like personal wealth or privilege, is considered individual good.
That which benefits many, such as social security and a clean environment, is a common good. Delaware Civics Standard – Grades 6–8 7 RECOGNITION THAT CITIZENS NEED PROTECTION FROM ABUSE OF GOVERNMENTAL AUTHORITY, EVEN WHEN THE GOVERNMENT IS THEORETICALLY OBEDIENT TO THE WILL OF THE MAJORITY OF THE CITIZENS. THERE ARE MANY INSTANCES IN AMERICAN HISTORY WHERE MINORITY GROUPS ONCE DID NOT RECEIVE THE SAME PROTECTIONS AS THE MAJORITY. THE BENCHMARK IS SOMEWHAT MISLEADING IN SPEAKING OF THE “RIGHTS OF MINORITIES,” BECAUSE MINORITIES ARE NOT NOW ACCORDED ANY MORE OR LESS RIGHTS THAN MEMBERS OF A MAJORITY.
WHAT WE NOW CALL THE RIGHTS OF MINORITIES IS FOUNDED ON INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS. THE CONSTITUTION DOES NOT SPECIFY GROUP RIGHTS. SO UNDERSTANDING THIS BENCHMARK REALLY COMES DOWN TO UNDERSTANDING THE MEANING AND PURPOSE OF THE BILL OF RIGHTS WITH THE EXPECTATION THAT STUDENTS SHOULD ALSO APPRECIATE HOW THESE RIGHTS PROTECT MINORITIES FROM DISCRIMINATION. THERE ARE MANY EXAMPLES OF HOW MINORITIES WERE SERVED BY POLITICAL DOCUMENTS AND RULINGS THAT PROTECTED INDIVIDUALS FROM DISCRIMINATION. OPEN-ENDED QUESTIONS THAT TEACHERS MIGHT ASK IN A CLASSROOM INCLUDE:
1. IF MOST PEOPLE FOLLOW ONE RELIGION, WHY SHOULDN’T THE GOVERNMENT PASS A LAW THAT RESTRICTS THE RIGHTS OF PEOPLE WITH OTHER RELIGIOUS BELIEFS? 2. IF MOST AMERICANS ARE OFFENDED BY PEOPLE WHO PROTEST A WAR, WHY NOT ALLOW THE GOVERNMENT TO DECLARE PROTESTORS “UNPATRIOTIC” AND PUT THEM ALL IN JAIL? 3. WHY MIGHT AMERICANS BE UNABLE TO PREVENT NEWSPAPERS OR WEBSITES FROM PRINTING LETTERS THAT INSULT OTHER PEOPLE? 4. WHAT IS MEANT BY “THE TYRANNY OF THE MAJORITY” AND WHY SHOULD WE FEAR IT? 5. HOW ARE MINORITIES PROTECTED BY INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS? CIVICS STANDARD TWO 6-8B: STUDENTS WILL UNDERSTAND THE PRINCIPLES AND CONTENT OF MAJOR AMERICAN STATE PAPERS SUCH AS THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE; UNITED STATES
CONSTITUTION (INCLUDING THE BILL OF RIGHTS); AND THE FEDERALIST PAPERS. ESSENTIAL QUESTIONS ?HOW ARE THE PRINCIPLES OF MAJOR AMERICAN STATE PAPERS GUARANTEEING LIBERTY TO CONTEMPORARY AMERICANS? IT WOULD BE A BIT MUCH TO INSIST ON AN UNDERSTANDING OF THE WHOLE CONTENT OF THESE PAPERS, especially the Federalist Papers22, but students can well achieve an understanding of the main PRINCIPLES REFLECTED IN THESE DOCUMENTS. THE OVERRIDING PRINCIPLE IS INDIVIDUAL LIBERTY; MOST OF THE OTHER PRINCIPLES CONCERN THE MEANS TO ACHIEVE LIBERTY. THE PRINCIPLES OF THE MAJOR STATE PAPERS ARE THE PRINCIPLES AND IDEALS OF AMERICAN DEMOCRACY.
THE INTRODUCTION TO CIVICS STANDARDS TWO DRAWS SPECIFIC ATTENTION TO THE FACT THAT “…[T]HE AMERICAN POLITICAL SYSTEM WAS INTENTIONALLY CREATED TO REST ON A FOUNDATION OF INDIVIDUAL LIBERTY, 21 Due to concern for the need to make civil rights explicit in the Constitution, James Madison introduced proposed amendments to the Constitution on June 8, 1789. They would eventually become the first ten amendments that would thereafter be called “The Bill of Rights. ”
22 The Federalist Papers were a series of 85 articles written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay and published in The Independent Journal and The New York Packet of New York between October 1787 and August 1788. The articles were meant to counter the arguments of the “Anti-Federalists” and others opposed to the ratification of the Constitution. The Papers offer a broad and deep discussion of the major issues addressed in the Constitution, and they are a primary source for interpreting the Constitution. A good website for students is www. constitutioncenter. org. Delaware Civics Standard – Grades 6–8 8 FREEDOM OF RELIGION, REPRESENTATIVE DEMOCRACY, EQUAL OPPORTUNITY, AND EQUAL PROTECTION UNDER THE law. ”
Political equality, rights, limited government23, checks and balances, and other principles OF AMERICAN GOVERNMENT ARE PRONOUNCED, ASSERTED, AND DISCUSSED IN THE STATE PAPERS. THE UNDERSTANDING OF THE PRINCIPLES CALLED FOR BY THIS BENCHMARK IS THE UNDERSTANDING REFLECTED IN THESE PAPERS, WHICH REQUIRES SOME PERSPECTIVE ON THE TIMES IN WHICH THEY WERE WRITTEN. AN ANALYSIS OF WHAT THE AUTHORS REALLY MEANT IN THEIR ASSERTION OF A PRINCIPLE AND WHY THEY ASSERTED THEM COULD HELP STUDENTS ACHIEVE THIS BENCHMARK. FOR EXAMPLE, WHAT DID “ALL MEN ARE CREATED.
EQUAL” MEAN AT THE TIME OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE? TO TRULY UNDERSTAND A PRINCIPLE, ONE MUST BE ABLE TO IDENTIFY ITS PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS. SUCH UNDERSTANDING IS ADDRESSED MORE DIRECTLY IN STANDARD THREE, BUT THE FOCUS THERE IS ON THE BILL OF RIGHTS. STUDENTS SHOULD BE ABLE TO IDENTIFY THE PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS OF THE PRINCIPLES NOT INCLUDED IN THE BILL OF RIGHTS. WHILE THESE PRINCIPLES ARE SOMETIMES IN CONFLICT AND WHILE DISPARITIES HAVE ALWAYS EXISTED BETWEEN THE REALITIES OF DAILY LIFE AND THE IDEALS OF AMERICAN DEMOCRACY, THE PRESERVATION AND IMPROVEMENT OF AMERICAN CONSTITUTIONAL DEMOCRACY DEPENDS.
LARGELY ON THE EFFORTS OF EACH SUCCEEDING GENERATION TO LIVE UP TO THESE PRINCIPLES AND NARROW THE DISPARITIES. OPEN-ENDED QUESTIONS THAT TEACHERS MIGHT ASK IN A CLASSROOM INCLUDE: 1. WHAT IS THE MEANING OF “WE THE PEOPLE”? 2. WHY IS THE CLAIM THAT “ALL MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL” IMPORTANT TO AMERICAN DEMOCRACY? HOW HAS THE MEANING OF THE PHRASE CHANGED OVER TIME? 3. WHY WAS THERE A DEBATE ABOUT WHETHER WE SHOULD HAVE A STRONG FEDERAL GOVERNMENT OR NOT? SHOULD THE DEBATE CONTINUE? 4. WHAT WAS THE PURPOSE OF AMENDING THE CONSTITUTION WITH THE FIRST TEN AMENDMENTS CALLED THE BILL OF RIGHTS? 5. WHAT WAS THE PURPOSE OF THE FEDERALIST PAPERS?
6. WHY DID THE SIGNERS OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE THINK THEY HAD THE RIGHT TO DECLARE INDEPENDENCE FROM GREAT BRITAIN? HERE IS A RELEASED ITEM FROM THE SOCIAL STUDIES DSTP THAT ILLUSTRATES THE ASSESSMENT OF THIS BENCHMARK. THIS TEST ITEM FOCUSES ON THE INALIENABLE RIGHTS STATED IN THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE AND HOW THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES ENSURED THOSE RIGHTS. THE STUDENT SHOULD PROVIDE EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT THE ANSWER. THE ITEM IS OPEN ENDED, WHICH MEANS THAT THERE IS MORE THAN ONE WAY TO ANSWER THIS QUESTION CORRECTLY. THE FOLLOWING IS AN EXCERPT FROM THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE:
THAT WHENEVER ANY FORM OF GOVERNMENT BECOMES DESTRUCTIVE OF THESE ENDS (LIFE, LIBERTY, AND THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS), IT IS THE RIGHT OF THE PEOPLE TO ALTER OR TO ABOLISH IT … 23 Limited government is a central principle of American democracy. The main idea is that the U. S. government has only those powers enumerated in the Constitution. In other words, it is limited to those functions spelled out or implied in the Constitution, leaving matters outside the purview of the government up to the people to decide for themselves. Delaware Civics Standard – Grades 6–8 9 HOW DID THE WRITERS OF THE U. S.
CONSTITUTION ENSURE THAT THE GOVERNMENT WOULD NOT DAMAGE THE RIGHTS STATED IN THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE? SUPPORT YOUR ANSWER WITH EVIDENCE. A STUDENT SHOULD PROVIDE AN ANSWER THAT GIVES A VALID EXPLANATION OF HOW THE WRITERS OF THE U. S. CONSTITUTION ENSURED THAT THE GOVERNMENT WOULD NOT DAMAGE THE INALIENABLE RIGHTS OF LIFE, LIBERTY, AND THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS. A STUDENT SHOULD ALSO INCLUDE EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT THE EXPLANATION. SEE THE DSTP WEBPAGE FOR MORE ITEMS AND SAMPLE, ANNOTATED STUDENT RESPONSES. HTTP://WWW. DOE. K12. DE. US/AAB/SOCIAL_STUDIES/SOCIAL_STUDIES_ITEM_SAMPLERS. SHTML Delaware Civics Standard – Grades 6–8 10.
CIVICS STANDARD THREE: STUDENTS WILL UNDERSTAND THE RESPONSIBILITIES, RIGHTS, AND PRIVILEGES OF UNITED STATES CITIZENS [CITIZENSHIP]. ENDURING UNDERSTANDINGS STUDENTS WILL UNDERSTAND THAT: •Effective citizens are committed to protecting rights for themselves, other citizens, and future GENERATIONS, BY UPHOLDING THEIR CIVIC RESPONSIBILITIES AND ARE AWARE OF THE POTENTIAL CONSEQUENCES OF INACTION. •Distinctions between a citizen’s rights, responsibilities, and privileges help to define the REQUIREMENTS AND LIMITS OF PERSONAL FREEDOM. ONCE AGAIN, THE WHY OF RESPONSIBILITIES AND RIGHTS, AND THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN RIGHTS AND PRIVILEGES IS CENTRAL TO UNDERSTANDING THE STANDARD.
AMERICAN CITIZENS HAVE THE RIGHT TO CERTAIN INDIVIDUAL FREEDOMS AND LIBERTIES FOUND IN THE U. S. CONSTITUTION. BUT, INDIVIDUAL FREEDOMS AND LIBERTIES HAVE LIMITS IMPOSED BY THE FACT THAT OTHERS ALSO HAVE THE SAME FREEDOMS AND LIBERTIES. RESPECT FOR THE RIGHTS OF OTHERS, FOR EXAMPLE, LIMITS SOME INDIVIDUAL ACTIONS. SUPPOSE TWO NEIGH