Montana Civics in the High Schools Study

Montana Civics in the High Schools Study

two pencils on top of a ballot

At the 2019 League of Women Voters Convention, delegates approved a state review and Study of the League's position on teaching Civics in the High Schools.   The study materials and consensus questions are below.

Consensus Questions:

  • ·       How do we define Civic Virtues* and Democratic Principles?  What role do they play in our society and the quality of our democracy?
  • ·       What level of priority for civics is appropriate in the array of other important classroom topics and activities?
  • ·       What is the appropriate role for the League in advancing Civics Education?
  • ·       What steps might LWVMT take to advance Civics Education?
* Civic Virtues are defined as:  the harvesting of habits important for the success of the community. Closely linked to the concept of citizenship, civic virtue is often conceived as the dedication of citizens to the common welfare of their community even at the cost of their individual interests. The identification of the character traits that constitute civic virtue has been a major concern of political philosophy. The term civility refers to behavior between persons and groups that conforms to a social mode (that is, in accordance with the civil society), as itself being a foundation of society and law.

Background Study Materials

Information From OPI website and links:

Summary of OPI Social Studies/Humanities Plan

Information found at developed 10/2000. Updated every ten years (?)

 Montana Content Standards

Six Content Standards indicate what all students should know, understand and be able to do in a specific content area.  These are largely taken from the National C3 Framework

  1. Applicability to real world situations.
  2. How to create and change structures of power
  3. Understanding geography
  4. Changes over time
  5. Economics: production, distribution, exchange, and consumption.
  6. Human interaction and cultural diversity

Goal: To foster citizenship in an interdependent world. To enable informed decision-making for personal and public good.

4th grade: create a new product, practice basic group decision making strategies in real world situations (e.g., class elections, playground and classroom rules, recycling projects, school stores). Levels of government and their respective responsibilities (order and conflict management). Names of those currently in positions of power. Notion of human rights, fairness, and respect for others. Understand that misunderstandings occur.  Listening skills.  Accessing internet resources. Land Use.  Types of shelter. Social and economic effects of climate.

8th grade: Look first to primary source before considering interpretations of primary source by secondary sources.  Understand embedded values of primary and secondary sources. Then interpret and apply one’s own conclusions. school elections, community projects, conflict resolution, role playing scenarios. Understand tribal government responsibilities. Understand Constitution, Community responsibilities. International economic differences and trade agreements. Legal issues related to Internet. Use aerial photographs and satellite images, talk about the impacts of a new highway,  a new dam, logging, mining.

12th grade: formulate and support reasoned personal convictions within groups and participate in negotiations to arrive at solutions to differences (e.g., elections, judicial proceedings, economic choices, community service projects). Suggestion: include exercises in civil discourse. compare and contrast various world political systems (e.g., ideologies, structure, institutions) with that of the United States. analyze the effectiveness of various systems of government to protect the rights and needs of citizens and balance competing conceptions of a just society. Discuss the Constitution. Analyze and evaluate conditions, actions and motivations that contribute to conflict and cooperation within and among groups and nations (e.g., current events from newspapers, magazines, television). Do teachers have this knowledge and accurate resources to guide students? global warming, deforestation, erosion, pollution). Global distribution of resources. apply ideas, theories, and methods of inquiry to analyze historical and contemporary developments, and to formulate and defend reasoned decisions on public policy issues. Most cannot do that. explain the operations, rules, and procedures of common financial instruments (e.g., stocks and bonds, retirement funds, IRAs) and financial institutions( credit companies, banks, insurance companies, social security system, Medicare, corporate welfare, entitlement).

C3 Framework

The National C3 framework tries to provide students with the structure and tools of each discipline, as well as theories and ideas common in those disciplines.

The C3 Framework is largely silent on kids who fall behind. Some students will need far more assistance and support than others in reaching the aims of each Dimension. All children deserve the opportunity to learn. To be successful, students will need varying degrees of scaffolding to support their learning. Smart, thoughtful, and imaginative teachers are widely recognized as key to powerful learning experiences; for English language learners, students with special needs, and struggling readers and writers, such teachers are invaluable. How do today’s students compare in knowledge levels to students in past decades? How does the system address different learning aptitude levels?  Does each Soc Stu teacher have standardized lesson plans?

LWV Montana Current Position on Education   

To promote efficient and equitable financing of public education, with the state funding its share of the cost, and to provide a basic education, beginning in early childhood, which produces graduates with critical thinking, reading, writing and mathematical skills.

 Position History: 

The Montana Constitution mandates equal opportunity to develop the full educational potential of each person through a basic system of free public elementary and secondary schools, with the state funding its share of the cost of such a system.  To determine whether this mandate was being carried out, the League conducted a study of the educational system.

The League found that the constitutional mandate was not being fulfilled. This was partly because such key terms as “equal opportunity,” “basic education,” “state share,” and “equitable funding” were not defined.

In 1997 the League adopted the following definition of a high-quality basic education:  A basic education must offer all students a curriculum supported by technology, libraries and teaching staff, sufficient to provide individualized instructional programs.  A basic education will produce graduates capable of critical thinking, with reading, writing and mathematical skills.  Together with knowledge of science, the humanities, the arts and governmental processes, these will combine to enable them to become productive workers and active citizens.

The dramatic increase in school budgets financed by local voted levies indicates that state funding is still inadequate.  Funding per student is one convenient and objective measure for determining equality of opportunity.  Funding levels must be combined with state standards for such essentials as staff, equipment, textbooks and programs.  Equality of funding must be tempered by differences in the needs of students in different localities and situations. 

Geographic isolation may increase transportation costs and necessitate higher salaries to attract teachers.  Smaller schools have greater per pupil costs.  Students with special needs or abilities are unequally distributed in school districts.  Current funding relies heavily on property taxes.  Variations in taxable valuation among school districts produces a wide disparity in mill levies needed to fund state-mandated programs.

In 1986 the Montana League adopted a Position supporting full state funding of a high-quality basic education and of state-mandated services.  The League supported equity in funding and in taxpayer effort.  The League also supported state accreditation standards to ensure equal opportunity for basic education for all students.  Standards define the minimum program to be offered by school districts, which are free to provide programs beyond the minimum.  The League favored broadening the tax base for school districts and equitable taxes.  Another League goal has been consolidation of schools and/or services, taking into consideration such factors as isolation, grade levels, and school size

LWV Montana EDUCATION Position, Revised May, 2014

The League of Women Voters of Montana supports:

1.       The existing structure which governs and funds the public school system of the state.

2.       Changes within that structure to provide:

·         That the state fully funds a high-quality basic education;

 ·         That the state fully fund state-mandated services;

·         That equity of funding and equity of taxpayer effort be primary goals.

 3.  Preschool Education for all children in the state of Montana.

 Additional Background Materials for Study:  

PDF iconstandards_of_surrounding_states.pdf 

PDF iconarm_rules_related_to_civics_education.pdf

PDF iconindian_issues_in_montana964.pdf

PDF iconlwv_us_and_montana_positions_on_education3964.pdf

PDF iconmeeting_with_opi.pdf 

PDF iconbozeman_social_studies_curriculum.pdf