School Improvement in Maryland
Clarifications: Each clarification provides an explanation of an indicator/objective to help teachers better understand the skills and/or concepts.

Standard 1.0 Political Science

Topic A. The Foundations and Function of Government

Indicator 3. Evaluate roles and policies of the United States government regarding public policy and issues

Objective b. Evaluate regional and international perspectives regarding the formation and implementation of public policy, such as Washington's Farewell Address, Monroe Doctrine, westward expansion, sectionalism, plantation holders in the South v. the industrialists in the North


In the United States a public policy is an agreed-upon way that our federal, state, or local government fulfills its responsibilities, such as protecting the rights of citizens and promoting the welfare of all the people. Some public policies are written into laws by legislatures. Other policies are contained in rules and regulations created by executive branches of government.

When people become aware of problems in their communities, states, or the entire nation, they often want government to develop and carry out policies to deal with these problems. These may be problems for which there are existing policies that do not work well, existing policies or laws that are not being enforced, or no policies or laws at all.

Citizens of the United States have a right to say what they think about what government should do about problems in their communities, states, and in the nation as a whole. They have the right to influence the decisions people in the government make about all of those problems.

Because they come from such a wide variety of perspectives, participants in the political process enter the arena of public discourse representing ideas and interests that can be very different and often in conflict with one another. Political ideas are underlying concepts, values, or ideals that are important to stakeholders in the policymaking process. States rights, the abolition of slavery, and belief in universal public education are examples of ideas held by major figures from early United States history. Interests are benefits or advantages that particular stakeholders stand to gain from government policies. For example, Southern planters of staple crops opposed tariffs designed to protect mostly Northern manufacturers because they benefitted from free trade with Great Britain and France. A key to developing students’ understanding of how the political process works in a democratic system of government is nurturing their ability to identify and then critically evaluate prominent regional and international perspectives on contemporary and historical public policy issues.

Resources for Objective 1.A.3.b:
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