to Civic Education
are Core Democratic Values?
Democratic Values are the fundamental beliefs and constitutional
principles of American society that unite all Americans. These values
are expressed in the Declaration of Independence, the United States
Constitution and other significant documents, speeches, and writings
of the nation. Based on the work of CIVITAS: A Framework for
Civic Education, a collaborative project of the Center for Civic
Education and the Council for the Advancement of Citizenship, the
Michigan Council for the Social Studies identifies
the following as Core Democratic Values:
- The individual's right to life should be considered inviolable
except in certain highly restricted and extreme circumstances,
such as the use of deadly force to protect one's own or others'
- The right to liberty is considered an unalterable aspect
of the human condition. Central to this idea of liberty is the
understanding that the political or personal obligations of parents
or ancestors cannot be legitimately forced on people. The right
to liberty includes personal freedom: the private realm in which
the individual is free to act, to think and to believe, and which
the government cannot legitimately invade; political freedom:
the right to participate freely in the political process, choose
and remove public officials, to be governed under a rule of law;
the right to a free flow of information and ideas, open debate
and right of assembly; and economic freedom: the right to acquire,
use, transfer and dispose of private property without unreasonable
governmental interference; the right to seek employment wherever
one pleases; to change employment at will; and to engage in any
lawful economic activity.
Pursuit of Happiness- It is the right of citizens in the American
constitutional democracy to attempt to attain--to "pursue"--happiness
in their own way, so long as they do not infringe upon rights
Good- The public or common good requires that individual citizens
have the commitment and motivation--that they accept their obligation--to
promote the welfare of the community and to work together with
other members for the greater benefit of all.
People should be treated fairly in the distribution of the benefits
and burdens of society, the correction of wrongs and injuries,
and in the gathering of information and making of decisions.
Variety in culture and ethnic background, race, lifestyle, and
belief is not only permissible but desirable and beneficial in
a pluralist society.
Citizens can legitimately demand that truth-telling as refraining
from Iying and full disclosure by government be the rule, since
trust in the veracity of government constitutes an essential element
of the bond between governors and governed.
Sovereignty- The citizenry is collectively the sovereign of
the state and holds ultimate authority over public officials and
Virtuous citizens display a devotion to their country, including
devotion to the fundamental values and principles upon which it
of Law - Both government and the governed should be subject
to the law.
of Powers - Legislative, executive, and judicial powers should
be exercised by different institutions in order to maintain the
limitations placed upon them.
Government - The republican form of government established
under the Constitution is one in which citizens elect others to
represent their interests.
and Balances - The powers given to the different branches
of government should be balanced, that is roughly equal, so that
no branch can completely dominate the others. Branches of government
are also given powers to check the power of other branches.
Rights - Fundamental to American constitutional democracy
is the belief that individuals have certain basic rights
that are not created by government but which government should
protect. These are the right to life, liberty, economic freedom,
and the "pursuit of happiness." It is the purpose of government
to protect these rights, and it may not place unfair or unreasonable
restraints on their exercise. Many of these rights are enumerated
in the Bill of Rights.
of Religion - There shall be full freedom of conscience for
people of all faiths or none. Religious liberty is considered
to be a natural inalienable right that must always be beyond the
power of the state to confer or remove. Religious liberty includes
the right to freely practice any religion or no religion without
governmental coercion or control.
- Power is shared between two sets of governmental institutions,
those of the states and those of the central or federal authorities,
as stipulated by the Constitution.
Control of the Military - Civilian authority should control
the military in order to preserve constitutional government.
are standards related to Civics Online?
often ask why standards are so important in education. Of course,
the broad answer is that they establish a base-line for expectations
of what students should know. Assuring a good match between the
materials that are available on Civics Online and standards such
as the Michigan Curriculum Framework and the National
Standards for Civics and Government has been a primary concern
of the project. Standards, like the Social Studies Content Standards
that are a part of the Michigan Curriculum Framework, are more than
lists of what students should know. They also guide educators and
parents in their expectations of what students should be able to
do. For instance, one of the benchmarks for students in the civics
stand of the Curriculum Framework is that they will be able to "explain
the advantages and disadvantages of a federal system of government."
To reach this goal, the Michigan Department of Education acknowledges
standards of "higher order thinking, deep knowledge, substantive
conversations, and connections to the world beyond the classroom"
as the foundations for increased understanding and learning.