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Civics



Civics refers to an area of political science dealing with the rights and duties or responsibilities of citizens. It is an important part of the education of any citizen in a democracy, as well as for those who wish to be naturalized. Read on to learn more....

Civics instructional materials and standards are available at two main sources: the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website, for those coming to this country, and the group responsible for the national education standards for civics standards, in this case, the Center for Civic Education, which provides material with support from both the United States Department of Education and The Pew Charitable Trusts. For more about civics education, read on.

Civics Standards

The national civics standards are divided into standards for K-4, 5-8, and 9-12.

The K-4 Content Standards are as follows:

  1. What is Government and What Should It Do?
  2. What are the Basic Values and Principles of American Democracy?
  3. How Does the Government Established by the Constitution Embody the Purposes, Values, and Principles of American Democracy?
  4. What is the Relationship of the United States to Other Nations and to World Affairs?
  5. What are the Roles of the Citizen in American Democracy?

The 5-8 and 9­-12 Content Standards are as follows:

  1. What are Civic Life, Politics, and Government?
  2. What are the Foundations of the American Political System?
  3. How Does the Government Established by the Constitution Embody the Purposes, Values, and Principles of American Democracy?
  4. What is the Relationship of the United States to Other Nations and to World Affairs?
  5. What are the Roles of the Citizen in American Democracy?

There are some important things to note:

First, each of the five standards at each level is further elucidated by additional material that makes clear the different levels of attainment expected for the three grade ranges.

Second, notice that at all levels, students consider the function of government, the values and principles on which it rests, how the government relates to its foundational values and principles, the relationship of our country to other sovereign entities and to world events, and the roles of citizens in our country.

Civics and Citizenship

You can see from question 5, that at all levels, students consider the role of the citizen, tying the civics curriculum to citizen education (see the article “Citizen Education” for more information).

Opportunities for Civics Education

Often, students do not have a separate course or time schedule called Civics. They may have Social Studies, History, or U.S. History, specifically. Civics education will likely take place in these courses, as well as at other times in the course of the school day and family life:

  • When pledging allegiance at the beginning of the school day
  • When singing patriotic songs at school events, sports events, in music class, and other times
  • When participating in or watching celebrations on, for example, the Fourth of July, Veteran’s Day, Memorial Day, and other holidays and commemorations of our country’s history
  • On election day, particularly if the school serves as a polling place and/or the child accompanies a parent to vote
  • When news or other television and radio programs broadcast political material, and when it is included in newspaper, magazine, and online journalism reports
  • When seeing movies, reenactments, historic monuments or battlefields, or museum presentations that honor our country’s history and heritage

Civics Materials

If you are a home schooler looking for civics material, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service offers pdf downloads of its materials from this web page: www.uscis.gov

The Center for Civic Education publishes a high school textbook, We the People, which has a website here: www.civiced.org

Sources

Center for Civic Education: National Standards for Civics and Government - civiced.org