Common Core Basics


Think about a time you worked with a group of people to get something done. Maybe you worked on a project at school, for your job, or with your family members. Did everyone work together and share ideas, or did one person make all the decisions and tell everyone else what to do? Usually people think it is unfair for one person to take control of a group. In a similar way, the US government divides its responsibilities and powers so one branch or one group does not have too much power.

In this chapter, you will learn how the US government is structured. As you read, think about how you can participate in our democracy. What you can you do to change laws or policies at the local, state, or national level?

In the chapter you will study these topics:

  • arrow_drop_downTypes of Modern and Historical Governments

    Throughout history, people have formed governments. Three types of government are common today: democracy, monarchy, and dictatorship. None of these types are new. For example, more than two thousand years ago, some of the Greek city-states had democratic governments, but this was not the same type of democracy that we have in the united States today.

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  • arrow_drop_downThe US Constitution

    The Constitution outlines the responsibilities and structure of the government. It also describes the rights of citizens. The Constitution can be changed, but changes have been made only a few times in more than two hundred years.

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  • arrow_drop_downThe Executuve, Legislative, and Judicial Branches of Government

    The US Constitution establishes three branches of government. The executive branch, led by the president, is in charge of the daily activities of government. The legislative branch which includes the House of Representatives and the Senate, passes laws. The judicial branch, made up of the Supreme Court and other courts, interprets the laws.

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  • arrow_drop_downState and Local Government

    The Constitution names the powers given to the federal government. Other responsibilities belong to the state or local governments. Some powers, such as taxation, belong to all levels of government.

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  • arrow_drop_downPolitical Parties and Interest Groups

    Through political parties are not in the Constitution, they have dominated politics since the 1800s. Interest groups try to influence political decisions, working to promote their ideas at all levels of government.

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  • arrow_drop_downCivil Liberties and Civil Rights

    The Bill of Rights protects the rights of individuals. Originally some of these rights applied only to white males, but today they apply to all citizens, regardless of race or gender.

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  • arrow_drop_downThe US Role in Global Society

    At a time when nations are more interconnected, the United States has a greater role in the global society because it is the world's only superpower. This role includes expanding businesses, spreading American culture, and providing aid to foreign countries.

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  • arrow_drop_downContemporary Public Policy

    Public Policy is made at all levels of government-local, state, and national. Public policies address concerns such as health, the environment, and the economy. voting is one way citizens can participate in making public policy.

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