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 B. Individual and Group Participation in the Political System

Indicator 1. Analyze the influence of individuals and groups on shaping public policy

Objective b. Evaluate ways the citizens should use, monitor and influence the formation and implementation of public policy


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, 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.

Citizens can be involved at all levels of the process by attending public meetings, writing letters to their representative and to newspapers, making phone calls, monitoring proposals and counterproposals, participating in demonstrations, persuading other citizens to support a particular alternative, conducting research, submitting proposals of their own, and giving testimony at public hearings. They also can join and serve as active members of interest groups and political parties.

Eighth grade students can develop their ability to evaluate the ways citizens use, monitor, and influence current public policies by examining the roles citizens played in enacting and changing public policies in early United States History. For example, they might investigate the impact citizen-led reform movements had upon governments’ formation and implementation of public policies concerning temperance, women’s rights, public education, or the abolition of slavery.

Resources for Objective 1.B.1.b:
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