Documents of American History
James Madison & the Bill of Rights – In a cozy library in James Madison's home in Montpelier, Virginia, William Rhatican, a member of the Northern Virginia Community College faculty, sits down with "James Madison," the fourth President of the United States for a gentlemanly discussion exploring "Mr. Madison's" belief in the supremacy of the individual over government, the political atmosphere in the newly created United States, and the opposition to his ideas from such political opponents as Patrick Henry and Col. George Mason.
Documents of American History (PDF) – State law requires that the documents of American History shall be taught to all pupils in the public schools of the commonwealth: the Declaration of American Independence, the general principles of the Constitution of the United States, the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom, the charters of April 10, 1606, May 23, 1609, and March 12, 1612 of the Virginia Company, and the Virginia Declaration of Rights. Emphasis shall be given to the citizenship responsibilities inherent in the rights included in these documents. It is also required by statute that pupils be instructed in the history of the United States flag and the Virginia flag.
General Civics Organizations
- Bill of Rights Institute – The mission of the Bill of Rights Institute is to educate young people about the words and ideas of America's Founders, the liberties guaranteed in our Founding documents, and how our Founding principles affect and shape a free society.
- Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools – The Campaign for the Civic Mission Schools was created to increase the quality and quantity of civic learning in our schools, grades K-12. The Campaign works to bring about changes in state, local, and national policy that promote civic learning and implement the recommendations in the Civic Mission of Schools report.
- Center for Civic Education – The mission of the Center for Civic Education is to promote an enlightened and responsible citizenry committed to democratic principles and actively engaged in the practice of democracy in the United States and other countries.
- The Center for the Constitution – The Center for the Constitution has been established to provide the nation's educators and opinion leaders with advanced educational opportunities and high-quality professional development.
- Center for Democracy and Citizenship –
We come from an activist heritage. Our philosophy was forged in the crucible of the American civic rights movement which etched the disarmingly simple fundamentals of democracy and public work:
- Each of us is democracy
- Democracy comes to life when we do its work
- Democracy wanes when we set its burdens aside
- When people do the work of democracy, the future can be better than the past.
- Center for Politics – In order to strengthen American democracy, the Center for Politics promotes the value of politics and seeks to improve civic education and increase civic participation through comprehensive research, pragmatic analysis, and innovative educational programs.
- Character.org is an organization of passionate people advocating for integrity, honesty, respect, and other core ethical values to be fused into education for the betterment of our nation. Below is a list of the people who are helping to achieve our goals.
- Choices – CHOICES for the 21st Century is an educational outreach program of the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University. Through its curricular resources, professional development programs, and special projects, CHOICES engages secondary level students in current and historical international issues and contributes to a renewal of civic engagement among young people in the United States.
- Citizenship Matters – Citizenship Matters is produced by the Education Commission of the States (ECS). This bimonthly newsletter focuses on ECS' work in improving citizenship education in our nation's schools.
- Civnet – CIVNET is an online resource and service for civic education practitioners (teachers, teacher trainers, curriculum designers), as well as scholars, policymakers, civic-minded journalists, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) promoting civic education all over the world.
- Close Up – The Close Up Foundation is the nation’s largest nonprofit nonpartisan citizenship education organization. Since its founding in 1970, Close Up has worked to promote responsible and informed participation in the democratic process through a variety of educational programs.
- Constitutional Rights Foundation – Constitutional Rights Foundation (CRF) is a non-profit, non-partisan, community-based organization dedicated to educating America's young people about the importance of civic participation in a democratic society.
- The Dirksen Center– The Dirksen Congressional Center conducts programming in four areas: historical collections, research, education, and community service. elections, research, education, and community service.
- Earth Force is committed to developing and delivering high quality programming that supports educators and provides opportunities to young people. To this end, we have worked with Brandeis University’s Center for Youth & Communities for 15 years to evaluate our educational model. With the support of the Center for Youth & Communities we have improved our programming using an ongoing process of feedback and reinvention.
- Everyday Democracy – Our mission is to help communities talk and work together to create communities that work for everyone. We work directly with local communities, providing advice and training and flexible how-to resources. Since our founding in 1989, we’ve worked with hundreds of communities across the United States on issues such as racial equity, poverty reduction, education reform, and building strong neighborhoods. We work with national, regional and state organizations in order to leverage our resources and to expand the reach and impact of civic engagement processes and tools. Our ultimate aim is to help create communities that value everyone’s voice and work for everyone, and to help create a strong national democracy that upholds these principles.
- Innovations in Civic Participation (ICP) is a global leader in the field of Youth Civic Engagement. ICP envisions a world where young people in every nation are actively engaged in improving their lives and their communities through civic participation. We believe that well-structured youth service programs can provide innovative solutions to social and environmental issues, while helping young people develop skills for future employment and active citizenship.
- Junior State of America – The mission of the Junior State of America and the Junior Statesmen Foundation is to strengthen American democracy by educating and preparing high school students for life-long involvement and responsible leadership in a democratic society.
- National Center for Learning and Citizenship – The NCLC provides information about service-learning and citizenship education through publications and on the Web site. Click on the Publications button at the left for a comprehensive list of our printed resources, including a series of issue briefs that address critical service-learning issues. Most of our publications are in a format to download and print. Resources include case studies highlighting successful K-12 programs linking service with learning; research findings, studies and stories about the impact of service, service-learning and volunteerism on students, schools and communities.
- The National Conference of State Legislatures – The National Conference of State Legislatures was founded in 1975 with the conviction that legislative service is one of democracy's worthiest pursuits. NCSL is a bipartisan organization that serves the legislators and staffs of the nation's 50 states, its commonwealths and territories. NCSL provides research, technical assistance and opportunities for policymakers to exchange ideas on the most pressing state issues. NCSL is an effective and respected advocate for the interests of state governments before Congress and federal agencies.
- Project Citizen is a curricular program for middle, secondary, and post-secondary students, youth organizations, and adult groups that promotes competent and responsible participation in local and state government. The program helps participants learn how to monitor and influence public policy. In the process, they develop support for democratic values and principles, tolerance, and feelings of political efficacy.
- Public Agenda – For over a quarter of a century, Public Agenda has been providing unbiased and unparalleled research that bridges the gap between American leaders and what the public really thinks about issues ranging from education to foreign policy to immigration to religion and civility in American life.
- Youth Leadership Initiative – YLI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization based at the University of Virginia Center for Politics. YLI is funded by the United States Congress, the Virginia General Assembly, and private donations.
Leadership Development Curriculum
The defined goals of the Leadership Development Curriculum are as follows: to develop in every K-12 student an awareness of his or her own leadership potential; to assist young people in developing essential leadership skills that enable them to act responsibly in all aspects of their lives; to develop citizens who possess the leadership abilities to meet present and future challenges in a global society; and to provide students with opportunities to learn and practice essential leadership skills within a learning community. For more information, see Linking Leadership to Instruction (PDF).
Civics Surveys & Data
- American Political Science Association – Founded in 1903, American Political Science Association is the leading professional organization for the study of political science and serves more than 15,000 members in over 80 countries. With a range of programs and services for individuals, departments and institutions, APSA brings together political scientists from all fields of inquiry, regions, and occupational endeavors within and outside academe in order to expand awareness and understanding of politics.
- The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement – Since 2001, CIRCLE has conducted, collected, and funded research on the civic and political participation of young Americans. CIRCLE is based in the University of Maryland's School of Public Policy and is funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts and Carnegie Corporation of New York.
- International Civic and Citizenship Education Study 2016 – This comparative research program investigates the ways in which young people are prepared to undertake their roles as citizens.
- NAEP Survey – The results of the NAEP civics assessment present a broad view of what our nation's students know and can do in civics. The assessment is designed to measure the civics knowledge and skills that are critical to the responsibilities of citizenship in America's constitutional democracy. Results of the 2014 assessment, administered to students throughout the nation at grade 8, will be available in the spring of 2015. Links to the 2010 assessment results are available.
Law Related Education
- American Bar Association – The American Bar Association Division for Public Education sponsors Law Day and a Commission on Civic Education in the Nation's Schools.
- Law Focused Education, Inc. – The mission of LFEI is to "plan, promote and support law-related education programs which are aimed at preparing elementary, middle and high school students for effective, responsible citizenship, and which are committed to liberty, justice and the Rule of Law."
- Street Law – Street Law is practical, participatory education about law, democracy, and human rights. A unique blend of content and methodology, Street Law uses techniques that promote cooperative learning, critical thinking, and the ability to participate in a democratic society. For 30 years, Street Law, Inc.'s programs and curricula have promoted knowledge of legal rights and responsibilities, engagement in the democratic process, and belief in the rule of law, among both youth and adults.
Voting & Mock Elections
- Kids Voting – A national leader in civic education, Kids Voting USA (KVUSA) gets students involved and ready to be educated, engaged citizens. Students learn about democracy through a combination of classroom activities, an authentic voting experience and family dialogue.
- The League of Women Voters – The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, has fought since 1920 to improve our systems of government and impact public policies through citizen education and advocacy. The League's enduring vitality and resonance comes from its unique decentralized structure. The League is a grassroots organization, working at the national, state and local levels.
- The National Student/ Parent Mock Election – The National Student/Parent Mock Election seeks to turn the sense of powerlessness that keeps young Americans and their parents, too, from going to the polls into a sense of the power of participation in our democracy. Note that it is this same sense of powerlessness, psychologists tell us that, is the root cause of violence. One of the most important ways to increase students' sense of significance – and power – is to use the Mock Election to take them out of the classroom and into the real world.
- Project Vote Smart – Project Vote Smart tries to provide access to abundant, accurate, and relevant information concerning candidates for office.
- Rock the Vote – Rock the Vote engages youth in the political process by incorporating the entertainment community and youth culture into its activities. From actors to musicians, comedians to athletes, Rock the Vote harnesses cutting-edge trends and pop culture to make political participation cool. Rock the Vote mobilizes young people to create positive social and political change in their lives and communities. The goal of Rock the Vote’s media campaigns and street team activities is to increase youth voter turnout. Rock the Vote coordinates voter registration drives, get-out-the-vote events, and voter education efforts, all with the intention of ensuring that young people take advantage of their right to vote.
- The Youth Leadership Initiative – Mock Election – We are a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization based at the University of Virginia Center for Politics. YLI is funded by the United States Congress, the Virginia General Assembly, and private donations. The Youth Leadership Initiative (YLI) conducts the largest secure student-only on-line mock election in the nation, using electronic cyber-ballots tailored to each student's home legislative district.
- Youth Vote Coalition – The Youth Vote Coalition is a national nonpartisan coalition of diverse organizations dedicated to engaging youth between the ages of 18-30 in the political process. The Youth Vote Coalition has over 100 national members who represent young people across the country.
Service Learning Sites
- Corporation for National & Community Service – The Corporation for National and Community Service plays a vital role in supporting the American culture of citizenship, service and responsibility. We are a catalyst for change and champion for the ideal that every American has skills and talents to give.
- The National Service-Learning Clearinghouse – The National Service-Learning Clearinghouse (NSLC) is the National No. 1 library of service-learning resources. The Clearinghouse offers thousands of free online resources for K-12, higher education, community-based organization and tribal communities.
- Public Achievement – Through Public Achievement, people of all ages work with others to meet challenges and solve problems. They learn from each other the meaning of citizenship and democracy.
Government Sites – Virginia
- Official Site of the Governor of Virginia – This site provides extensive information about the Governor’s issues and initiatives, resources, policies, and appointments.
- Virginia.gov – This site provides links to a variety of sites that allow citizens to interact with departments and agencies of Virginia Government.
- Visitor's Guide to the Virginia General Assembly (PDF) – This PDF presents a visitor's guide to the Virginia General Assembly.
- Virginia Judicial System – The official website of the Virginia Judicial System contains links to each of the levels of Virginia courts and the special courts.
- Virginia Association of Counties – This site provides comprehensive information on issues of importance to localities; links to federal and state legislators; and links to Virginia county Web sites.
Government Sites – United States
- USA.gov: The U.S. Government’s Official Web Portal – This site provides access for federal, state, and local government sites; contact information, references, and news of interest.
- The White House – This site shows the current members of the President’s cabinet.
- Congress.gov – This is the official site of the Congress of the United States. It contains the texts of all bills before Congress and a listing of all members of Congress with contact information.
- Supreme Court of the United States – This site provides information on the United States Supreme Court: structure, procedures, and cases.
- Understanding the Federal Courts – How were the federal courts established? What kind of cases do they hear? What is the difference between state and federal courts? These might be some of the questions you're asking when you visit uscourts.gov, and the answers are a click away.
- U.S. Courts: The Federal Judiciary – This government-sponsored site provides information on the federal court system and many important court cases.
- Landmark Cases, Supreme Court – Street Law & The Supreme Court Historical Society – This site provides information on the implied powers of the United States Government and a discussion of McCulloch v. Maryland.
- U.S. Courts, Court Locator – This site provides a court locator to all U.S. federal courts.
- “United States District Courts.” U.S. Courts – This site provides information on jurisdiction of District Courts.
Additional Resources for Instruction
- American Bar Association – activities and topics range from how the law furthers America’s quest for equality to the role of citizens and the role of the law in protecting rights and making democracy possible.
- Annenberg Classroom – This website connects an award-winning, comprehensive curriculum on the Constitution and its amendments to daily civics news and student discussion.
- Center for Civic Education – variety of programs, resources, and professional development opportunities to support civic education and readiness.
- The Library of Congress – offers classroom materials and professional development to help teachers effectively use primary sources from the Library's vast digital collections in teaching civics.
- The Youth Leadership Initiative – activities and topics to cover all aspects of civic education from voting to service learning to the legislative process.
- Challenges of Civics Education (PDF) – Dr. Peter N. Stearns, provost of George Mason University
- EconEdLink – EconEdLink provides a premier source of classroom-tested, Internet-based economic and personal finance lesson materials for K-12 teachers and their students. With over 658 lessons to choose from, teachers can use as many of the lessons as they would like and as often as they would like.
- Encyclopedia Virginia – Encyclopedia Virginia is a publicly accessible online publication of the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. As a web publication, the Encyclopedia adds an entirely new dimension to the work done by VFH over the last thirty years.
- Facing History and Ourselves – Empowering teachers & students to think critically about history & to understand the impact of their choices.
- For Virginians: Government Matters – For Virginians: Government Matters is a free online teaching and learning resource highlighting active citizen involvement, the impact of state and local government on daily life, and how individuals shape their communities in the commonwealth.
- iCivics exists to engage students in meaningful civic learning. We provide civics teachers well-written, inventive, and free resources that enhance their practice and inspire their classrooms. Our mission is to ensure every student receives a high-quality civic education, and becomes engaged in – and beyond – the classroom.
- Teachinghistory.org – Teachinghistory.org is designed to help K-12 history teachers access resources and materials to improve U.S. history education in the classroom. With funding from the U.S. Department of Education, the Center for History and New Media (CHNM) has created Teachinghistory.org with the goal of making history content, teaching strategies, resources, and research accessible.
- The National Archives Experience Docs Teach – When we ask students to work with and learn from primary sources, we transform them into historians. Rather than passively receiving information from a teacher or textbook, students engage in the activities of historians – making sense of the stories, events and ideas of the past through document analysis.
- Virginia Memory from the Library of Virginia – Virginia Memory is part of the online presence of the Library of Virginia, the state archives and reference library. The Library maintains vast and varied collections of print materials, manuscripts, archival records, newspapers, photographs and ephemera, maps and atlases, rare books, and fine art that tell the history of the commonwealth and its people.