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Skills available for Massachusetts eighth-grade social studies standards

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8.T1 The philosophical foundations of the United States political system

8.T2 The development of the United States government

8.T3 The institutions of United States government

  • 8.T3.1 Distinguish the three branches of government (separation of powers):

  • 8.T3.2 Examine the interrelationship of the three branches (the checks and balance system).

    • 8.T3.2.a Congress: enumerated powers, general powers, limits on power, checks on other two branches; roles of political parties in the organization of Congress; roles within the legislative branch, such as the Speaker of the House, the President of the Senate, minority party leaders; the system for accomplishing legislation, including committees, hearings and legislative procedures

    • 8.T3.2.b the Presidency: roles, powers and limits, checks on other two branches, role of the Cabinet, such as the Vice President, Attorney General and Secretaries of State, Defense, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security; executive departments and agencies (such as the Department of Education, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, or the Food and Drug Administration), and branches of the military

    • 8.T3.2.c the Supreme Court: role and powers, checks on other two branches, lower courts

  • 8.T3.3 Describe the respective roles of each of the branches of government.

  • 8.T3.4 Explain the process of elections in the legislative and executive branches and the process of nomination/confirmation of individuals in the judicial and executive branches.

    • 8.T3.4.a Elections: running for legislative office (U.S. Representative – unlimited two-year terms, U.S. Senator – unlimited six-year terms), or executive office (President – two four-year terms and Vice President –unlimited four-year terms) and the function of the Electoral College in Presidential elections

    • 8.T3.4.b Nomination by the President and confirmation by Congress: Supreme Court Justices and Secretaries/agency heads in the executive branch)

  • 8.T3.5 Describe the role of political parties in elections at the state and national levels.

8.T4 Rights and responsibilities of citizens

8.T5 The Constitution, Amendments, and Supreme Court decisions

  • 8.T5.1 Explain why the "necessary and proper" clause and why it is often referred to as the "elastic clause."

  • 8.T5.2 Explain the historical context and significance of changes in the Constitution, including key amendments. Examples of amendments include the:

  • 8.T5.3 Analyze the Constitutional issues that caused the Civil War and led to the eventual expansion of the power of the Federal government and individual civil rights.

  • 8.T5.4 Explain the historical context and significance of laws enacted by Congress that have expanded the civil rights and equal protection for race, gender, disability (e.g., the 1964 Civil Rights Act, 1965 Voting Rights Act, 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act, 1990 Individuals with Disabilities Education Act), and explain how the evolving understanding of human rights has affected the movement for civil rights for all.

  • 8.T5.5 Explain the principle of judicial review established in Marbury v. Madison (1803) and explain how cases come before the Supreme Court, how cases are argued, and how the Court issues decisions and dissents.

  • 8.T5.6 Research, analyze, and report orally or in writing on one area (a, b, or c, below) in which Supreme Court decisions have made significant changes over time in citizens' lives.

8.T6 The structure of Massachusetts state and local government

  • 8.T6.1 Compare and contrast the functions of state government and national government.

  • 8.T6.2 Describe provisions of the United States Constitution and the Massachusetts Constitution that define and distribute powers and authority of the federal or state government.

  • 8.T6.3 Distinguish among the enumerated and implied powers in the United States Constitution and the Massachusetts Constitution.

  • 8.T6.4 Compare core documents associated with the protection of individual rights, including the Bill of Rights, the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution, and Article I of the Massachusetts Constitution.

  • 8.T6.5 Explain why the Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution is important to state government and identify the powers granted to states by the Tenth Amendment and the limits to state government outlined in it.

  • 8.T6.6 Identify additional protections provided by the Massachusetts Constitution that are not provided by the U.S. Constitution.

  • 8.T6.7 Contrast 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, welfare payments, and the building and funding of schools).

  • 8.T6.8 Explain the leadership structure of the government of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the function of each branch

  • 8.T6.9 Give examples of tax-supported facilities and services provided by the Massachusetts state government and by local governments.

  • 8.T6.10 Explain the major components of local government in Massachusetts, including the roles and functions of mayors, city councils, and school committees in cities; town managers, select boards, representative and open town meetings and school committees, in towns, and courts and sheriff's departments in counties.

8.T7 Freedom of the Press and News/Media Literacy

  • 8.T7.1 Explain why freedom of the press was included as a right in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and in Article 16 of the Massachusetts Constitution; explain that freedom of the press means the right to express and publish views on politics and other topics without government sponsorship, oversight, control, or censorship.

  • 8.T7.2 Give examples of how a free press can provide competing information and views about government and politics.

  • 8.T7.3 Explain the different functions of news articles, editorials, editorial cartoons, and "op-ed" commentaries.

  • 8.T7.4 Evaluate the benefits and challenges of digital news and social media to a democratic society.

  • 8.T7.5 Explain methods for evaluating information and opinion in print and online media (e.g., determining the credibility of news articles; analyzing the messages of editorials and op-ed commentaries; assessing the validity of claims and sufficiency of evidence).

  • 8.T7.6 Analyze the point of view and evaluate the claims of an editorial, editorial cartoon, or op-ed commentary on a public policy issue at the local, state, or national level (e.g., a mayoral or school committee decision, an action by a state legislature or Governor, a vote in Congress or an action by the President).