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 2. Defend the importance of civic participation as a citizen of the United States

Objective a. Evaluate ways people can participate in the political process including voting, analyzing the media, petitioning elected officials, and volunteering

Clarification

Because the United States is a democratic republic, most decision-making and other work of government is accomplished by elected and appointed representatives. However, the preservation and healthy functioning of democracy requires that citizens play an active role in their system of self-government. By participating in the political process, citizens send their representatives direct and indirect messages about what they think government should do about problems in their communities, states, and in the nation as a whole. Particularly in the information age, when a wide variety of electronic and print sources provide citizens with often conflicting bits of information, the ability to analyze the media is crucial to citizens’ effectiveness at initiating change.

There are many ways citizens can be involved at all levels of the political process. A partial list includes voting in elections, petitioning elected officials, volunteering in election campaigns, attending public meetings, writing letters to their representative and to newspapers, participating in demonstrations, giving testimony at public hearings, and running for elected office.

The study of early United States history offers students many opportunities to develop the ability to evaluate citizen participation in the political process. For example, it provides contexts for identifying policymakers and policymaking processes under the American system of government. Once students identify policymakers and explain policymaking processes, they can decide on their own which of the strategies listed above were or would have been most appropriate for enacting change. They also can make connections between citizen actions in the political process in early U.S. history and today. Finally, the study of any topic in history provides students with opportunities to develop source analysis skills they may later apply in fulfilling their responsibilities as citizens in a participatory system of government.

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Resources for Objective 1.B.2.a:
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