Massachusetts

Massachusetts General Laws, Title XII Education:

ALM GL ch. 69, § 1D Statewide educational goals; academic standards; Standards contained in curriculum frameworks. The commissioner of education is directed to develop academic standards for core subjects including history and social science. … “The standards shall provide for instruction in at least the major principles of the Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution, and the Federalist Papers.”

ALM GL ch.71, §2 Subjects of instruction; history and civics; “In all public elementary and high schools American history and civics, including the Constitution of the United States, the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights…”

Massachusetts History and Social Science Curriculum Framework

Pre-K to Kindergarten

  • Pre-K to Kindergarten; With guidance from the teacher, students should be able to:
    • Give examples that show the meaning of the following concepts: authority, fairness, justice, responsibility, and rules.
    • PreK-K.1 Identify and describe the events or people celebrated during United States national holidays and why we celebrate them.
      • Columbus Day
      • Independence Day
      • Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
      • Presidents’ Day
      • Thanksgiving
    • PreK-K.7 Demonstrate understanding that there are important American symbols by identifying:
      • the American flag and its colors and shapes
      • the melody of the national anthem
      • the picture and name of the current president
      • the words of the Pledge of Allegiance.

Grade 1

  • Give examples that show the meaning of the following words: politeness, achievement, courage, honesty, and reliability.
  • 1.1 On a map of the United States, locate Washington, D.C., and identify it as the capital of the United States of America; locate Boston and identify it as the capital of Massachusetts.
  • 1.2 Identify the current President of the United States, describe what presidents do, and explain that they get their authority from a vote by the people.
  • 1.3 Identify and explain the meaning of American national symbols.
    • the American flag
    • the bald eagle
    • the White House
    • the Statue of Liberty
  • 1.4 Demonstrate the ability to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, to explain its general meaning, and to sing national songs such as America the Beautiful, My Country, ’tis of Thee, God Bless America, and The Star Spangled Banner and explain the general meaning of the lyrics.
  • 1.5 Give reasons for celebrating the events or people commemorated in national and Massachusetts’s holidays. On a calendar for the current year, identify the months for Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veterans’ Day, Thanksgiving, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Presidents’ Day, Patriots’ Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, and Independence Day.

Grade 2

  • Define and give examples of some of the rights and responsibilities that students as citizens have in the school (e.g., students have the right to vote in a class election and have the responsibility to follow school rules).
  • 2.6 Explain the difference between a continent and a country and give examples of each.

Grade 3

  • Give examples of why it is necessary for communities to have governments (e.g., governments provide order and protect rights).
  • Give examples of the different ways people in a community can influence their local government (e.g., by voting, running for office, or participating in meetings).
  • 3.5 Explain important political, economic, and military developments leading to and during the American Revolution.
    • the growth of towns and cities in Massachusetts before the Revolution
    • the Boston Tea Party
    • the beginning of the Revolution at Lexington and Concord
    • the Battle of Bunker Hill
    • Revolutionary leaders such as John Adams, Samuel Adams, John Hancock, and Paul Revere
  • 3.6 Identify the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights as key American documents.

Grade 4

  • Give examples of the major rights that immigrants have acquired as citizens of the United States (e.g., the right to vote, and freedom of religion, speech, assembly, and petition).
  • Give examples of the different ways immigrants can become citizens of the United States.

Grade 5

  • Define and use correctly words related to government: citizen, suffrage, rights, representation, federal, state, county, and municipal.
  • Give examples of the responsibilities and powers associated with major federal and state officials (the President, chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, governor, state senators, and state representatives).
  • 5.6 Explain the early relationship of the English settlers to the indigenous peoples, or Indians, in North America, including the differing views on ownership or use of land and the conflicts between them (e.g., the Pequot and King Philip’s Wars in New England).
  • 5.7 Identify some of the major leaders and groups responsible for the founding of the original colonies in North America.
    • Lord Baltimore in Maryland o William Penn in Pennsylvania o John Smith in Virginia
    • Roger Williams in Rhode Island
    • John Winthrop in Massachusetts
  • 5.8 Identify the links between the political principles and practices developed in ancient Greece and such political institutions and practices as written constitutions and town meetings of the Puritans.
  • 5.9 Explain the reasons that the language, political institutions, and political principles of what became the United States of America were largely shaped by English colonists even though other major European nations also explored the New World. (H, C)
    • the relatively small number of colonists who came from other nations besides England
    • long experience with self-government
    • the high rates of literacy and education among the English colonial leaders
    • England’s strong economic, intellectual, and military position
  • 5.14 Explain the development of colonial governments and describe how these developments contributed to the Revolution.
    • legislative bodies
    • town meetings
    • charters on individual freedom and rights
  • 5.20 Explain the reasons for the adoption of the Articles of Confederation in 1781 and for its later failure.
  • 5.21 Describe Shays’s Rebellion of 1786-1787 and explain why it was one of the crucial events leading to the Constitutional Convention.
  • 5.22 Identify the various leaders of the Constitutional Convention and describe the major issues they debated.
    • distribution of political power
    • rights of individuals
    • rights of states
    • the Great Compromise
    • slavery
  • 5.23 Describe the responsibilities of government at the federal, state, and local levels (e.g., protection of individual rights and the provision of services such as law enforcement and the building and funding of schools).
  • 5.24 Describe the basic political principles of American democracy and explain how the Constitution and the Bill of Rights reflect and preserve these principles.
    • individual rights and responsibilities
    • equality
    • the rule of law
    • limited government
    • representative democracy
  • 5.25 Identify the three branches of the United States government as outlined by the Constitution, describe their functions and relationships, and identify what features of the Constitution were unique at the time (e.g., the presidency and the independent judiciary).
  • 5.26 Identify the rights in the Bill of Rights and explain the reasons for its inclusion in the Constitution in 1791.
  • 5.27 Explain how American citizens were expected to participate in, monitor, and bring about changes in their government over time, and give examples of how they continue to do so today.

Grade 7

  • 7.26 Explain why the government of ancient Athens is considered the beginning of democracy and explain the democratic political concepts developed in ancient Greece.
    • the “polis” or city-state
    • civic participation and voting rights
    • legislative bodies
    • constitution writing
    • rule of law
  • 7.38 Describe the government of the Roman Republic and its contribution to the development of democratic principles, including separation of powers, rule of law, representative government, and the notion of civic duty. (H, C)

Grades 8-12

  • Pathways: There are five possible sequences for grades 8 through 12. Districts may choose any of these sequences or design one of their own so long as they accommodate the assessment on the standards, skills, and concepts listed for both U.S. History I and II, at the end of either grade 10 or 11.
  • Students should be able to:
    • Define and use correctly the following words and terms: Magna Carta, parliament, habeas corpus, monarchy, and absolutism.
  • World History I; students should be able to:
    • WHI.8 Describe developments in medieval English legal and constitutional history and their importance in the rise of modern democratic institutions and procedures, including the Magna Carta, parliament, and habeas corpus.
  • World History II; students should be able to:
    • WHII.2 Explain why England was the main exception to the growth of absolutism in royal power in Europe.
      • the causes and essential events of the English Civil War and the Glorious Revolution of 1688.
      • the effect of the Glorious Revolution on the development of constitutional government and liberty in England, including the importance of the English Bill of Rights and how it limited the power of the monarch to act without the consent of Parliament.
  • U.S. History I; students should be able to:
    • USI.1 Explain the political and economic factors that contributed to the American Revolution.
      • the impact on the colonies of the French and Indian War, including how the war led to an overhaul of British imperial policy from 1763 to 1775.
      • how freedom from European feudalism and aristocracy and the widespread ownership of property fostered individualism and contributed to the Revolution
    • USI.2 Explain the historical and intellectual influences on the American Revolution and the formation and framework of the American government.
      • the legacy of ancient Greece and Rome
      • the political theories of such European philosophers as Locke and Montesquieu
      • Seminal Primary Documents to Read: Mayflower Compact (1620)
      • Seminal Primary Documents to Consider: Massachusetts Body of Liberties (1641) and John Locke’s Treatises of Civil Government (1690)
    • USI.3 Explain the influence and ideas of the Declaration of Independence and the political philosophy of Thomas Jefferson.
      • Seminal Primary Documents to Read: the Declaration of Independence (1776)
      • Seminal Primary Documents to Consider: the Suffolk Resolves (1774) and the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom (1786)
    • USI.5 Explain the role of Massachusetts in the revolution, including important events that took place in Massachusetts and important leaders from Massachusetts.
      • the Boston Massacre
      • the Boston Tea Party
      • the Battles of Lexington and Concord and Bunker Hill
      • Sam Adams, John Adams, and John Hancock
      • Seminal Primary Documents to Consider: the Massachusetts Constitution (1780)
    • USI.6 Explain the reasons for the adoption of the Articles of Confederation in 1781, including why its drafters created a weak central government; analyze the shortcomings of the national government under the Articles; and describe the crucial events (e.g., Shays’s rebellion) leading to the Constitutional Convention.
      • Seminal Primary Documents to Read: the Northwest Ordinance (1787)
    • USI.7 Explain the roles of various founders at the Constitutional Convention. Describe the major debates that occurred at the Convention and the “Great Compromise” that was reached.
      • Major Debates
        • the distribution of political power
        • the rights of individuals
        • the rights of states
        • slavery
      • Founders
        • Benjamin Franklin
        • Alexander Hamilton
        • James Madison
        • George Washington
      • Seminal Primary Documents to Read: the U.S. Constitution
    • USI.8 Describe the debate over the ratification of the Constitution between Federalists and Anti- Federalists and explain the key ideas contained in the Federalist Papers on federalism, factions, checks and balances, and the importance of an independent judiciary.
      • Seminal Primary Documents to Read: Federalist Paper number 10
      • Seminal Primary Documents to Consider: Federalist Papers numbers 1, 9, 39, 51, and 78
    • USI.9 Explain the reasons for the passage of the Bill of Rights.
      • the influence of the British concept of limited government
      • the particular ways in which the Bill of Rights protects basic freedoms, restricts government power, and ensures rights to persons accused of crimes
      • Seminal Primary Documents to Read: the Bill of Rights (1791)
      • Seminal Primary Documents to Consider: Magna Carta (1215) and the English Bill of Rights (1689)
    • USI.10 On a map of North America, identify the first 13 states to ratify the Constitution.
    • USI.11 Describe the purpose and functions of government.
    • USI.12 Explain and provide examples of different forms of government, including democracy, monarchy, oligarchy, theocracy, and autocracy.
    • USI.13 Explain why the United States government is classified as a democratic government.
    • USI.14 Explain the characteristics of American democracy, including the concepts of popular sovereignty and constitutional government, which includes representative institutions, federalism, separation of powers, shared powers, checks and balances, and individual rights.
    • USI.15 Explain the varying roles and responsibilities of federal, state, and local governments in the United States.
    • USI.21 Describe how decisions are made in a democracy, including the role of legislatures, courts, executives, and the public.
    • USI.41 Explain the policies and consequences of Reconstruction. (H, C)
      • Presidential and Congressional Reconstruction
      • the impeachment of President Johnson
      • the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments
      • the opposition of Southern whites to Reconstruction
      • the accomplishments and failures of Radical Reconstruction
      • the presidential election of 1876 and the end of Reconstruction
      • the rise of Jim Crow laws
      • the Supreme Court case, Plessy v. Ferguson (1896)

Grade 12 American Government Elective

  • USG.1.1 Distinguish among civic, political, and private life.
  • USG.1.2 Define the terms citizenship, politics, and government, and give examples of how political solutions to public policy problems are generated through interactions of citizens and civil associations with their government.
  • USG.1.3 Describe the purposes and functions of government.
  • USG.1.4 Define and provide examples of different forms of government, including direct democracy, representative democracy, republic, monarchy, oligarchy, and autocracy.
  • USG.1.5 Explain how the rule of law, embodied in a constitution, limits government to protect the rights of individuals.
  • USG.1.6 Explain how a constitutional democracy provides majority rule with equal protection for the rights of individuals, including those in the minority, through limited government and the rule of law.
  • USG.1.7 Distinguish limited from unlimited government, and provide examples of each type of government.
  • USG.1.8 Explain how civil society contributes to the maintenance of limited government in a representative democracy or democratic republic such as the United States.
  • USG.1.9 Examine fundamental documents in the American political tradition to identify key ideas regarding limited government and individual rights.
    • Examples: Magna Carta (1215), Mayflower Compact (1620), Massachusetts Body of Liberties (1641), English Bill of Rights (1689), Locke’s Treatises of Civil Government (1690), Pennsylvania Charter of Privileges (1701), Virginia Declaration of Rights (1776), Declaration of Independence (1776), United States Constitution (1787), Bill of Rights (1791), and the Massachusetts Constitution of 1780
  • USG.1.10 Explain the part of Article IV, Section 4, of the United States Constitution, which says, “The United States shall guarantee to every State in the Union a Republican form of Government….”
  • USG.2.1 Trace the colonial, revolutionary, and founding-era experiences and events that led to the writing, ratification, and implementation of the United States Constitution (1787) and Bill of Rights (1791).
  • USG.2.2 Analyze and interpret central ideas on government, individual rights, and the common good in founding documents of the United States.
    • Examples: The Virginia Declaration of Rights (1776), the Declaration of Independence (1776),the Massachusetts Constitution (1780), the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom (1786), the Northwest Ordinance (1787), the United States Constitution (1787), selected Federalist Papers such as numbers 1, 9, 10, 39, 51, and 78 (1787–1788), the Bill of Rights (1791), President Washington’s Farewell Address (1796), and President Jefferson’s First Inaugural Address (1801)
  • USG.2.3 Identify and explain elements of the social contract and natural rights theories in United States founding-era documents.
  • USG.2.4 Define and provide examples of foundational ideas of American government, including popular sovereignty, constitutionalism, republicanism, federalism, and individual rights, which are embedded in founding-era documents.
  • USG.2.5 Explain how a shared American civic identity is embodied in founding-era documents and in core documents of subsequent periods of United States history.
    • Examples: The Seneca Falls Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions (1848), Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address (1863) and Second Inaugural Address (1865), Theodore Roosevelt’s “The New Nationalism” speech (1910), Woodrow Wilson’s “Peace Without Victory” speech (1917), Franklin Roosevelt’s “Four Freedoms” speech (1941), John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address (1961), Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech and Letter from Birmingham City Jail (1963), and selected opinions in landmark decisions of the United States Supreme Court such as Justice Robert Jackson’s opinion for the Court in West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette (1943) and Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes’ dissenting opinion in the case of Abrams v. United States (1919)
  • USG.2.6 Define and provide examples of fundamental principles and values of American political and civic life, including liberty, the common good, justice, equality, tolerance, law and order, rights of individuals, diversity, civic unity, patriotism, constitutionalism, popular sovereignty, and representative democracy.
  • USG.2.7 Identify and explain historical and contemporary efforts to narrow discrepancies between foundational ideas and values of American democracy and realities of American political and civic life.
  • USG.2.8 Evaluate, take, and defend positions on issues concerning foundational ideas or values in tension or conflict.
    • Examples: Analyze issues involving liberty in conflict with equality, liberty in conflict with authority, individual rights in conflict with the common good, or majority rule in conflict with minority rights.
  • USG.2.9 Compare and contrast ideas on government of the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists during their debates on ratification of the U.S. Constitution (1787–1788).
  • USG.2.10 Analyze and explain ideas about liberty, equality, and justice in American society using documents such as in Reverend Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech and Letter from Birmingham City Jail (1963), and compare King’s ideas to those in such founding-era documents as the Virginia Declaration of Rights (1776), the Declaration of Independence (1776), Massachusetts Declaration of Rights (1780), and the Federalist Papers (1788)
  • USG.3.1 Compare and contrast governments that are unitary, confederate, and federal.
  • USG.3.2 Identify and describe provisions of the United States Constitution and the Massachusetts Constitution that define and distribute powers and authority of the federal or state government.
  • USG.3.3 Explain the constitutional principles of federalism, separation of powers among three branches of government, the system of checks and balances, republican government or representative democracy, and popular sovereignty. Provide examples of these principles in the governments of the United States and the state of Massachusetts.
  • USG.3.4 Explain the functions of the courts of law in the governments of the United States and the state of Massachusetts with emphasis on the principles of judicial review and an independent judiciary.
  • USG.3.5 Distinguish among the enumerated and implied powers in the United States Constitution and the Massachusetts Constitution.
  • USG.3.6 Explain the functions of departments or agencies of the executive branch in the governments of the United States and the state of Massachusetts.
  • USG.3.9 Explain the formal process of how a bill becomes a law and define the terms initiative and referendum.
  • USG.3.11 Compare core documents associated with the protection of individual rights, including the Bill of Rights, the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, and Article I of the Massachusetts Constitution.
  • USG.3.13 Analyze and evaluate decisions by the United States Supreme Court about the constitutional principles of separation of powers and checks and balances in such landmark cases as Marbury v. Madison (1803), Baker v. Carr (1962), United States v. Nixon (1974), City of Boerne, Texas v. Flores (1997), and Clinton v. City of New York (1998).
  • USG.3.14 Analyze and evaluate decisions by the United States Supreme Court about the constitutional principle of federalism in cases such as McCulloch v. Maryland (1819), Texas v. White (1869), Alden v. Maine (1999).
  • USG.4.3 Identify and explain powers that the United States Constitution gives to the President and Congress in the area of foreign affairs.
  • USG.5.1 Explain the meaning and responsibilities of citizenship in the United States and Massachusetts.
  • USG.5.2 Describe roles of citizens in Massachusetts and the United States, including voting in public elections, participating in voluntary associations to promote the common good, and participating in political activities to influence public policy decisions of government.
  • USG.5.3 Describe how citizens can monitor and influence local, state, and national government as individuals and members of interest groups.
  • USG.5.7 Analyze and evaluate decisions about rights of individuals in landmark cases of the United States Supreme Court such as Whitney v. California (1927), Stromberg v. California (1931), Near v. Minnesota (1931), Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969), Texas v. Johnson (1989), and Reno v. American Civil Liberties Union (1997).