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Civics Education

Learning About the Rights & Obligations of Citizenship

Found in: Lesson Plans

Government of the people, by the people, and for the people, in Abraham Lincoln's phrase, means that the people have the right to control their government. But this right is meaningless unless they have the knowledge and skills to exercise that control and possess the traits of character required to do so responsibly.

A free society must rely on the knowledge, skills, and virtue of its citizens and those they elect to public office. Civic education, therefore, is essential to the preservation and improvement of American constitutional democracy. - Center for Civic Education


In Civics classes, students learn about the rights and obligations of citizenship at the local, state, national, and global levels and the history of our nation as a democracy.

Students learn about the United States Constitution, which organizes our national government into three independent branches of government:


  • Executive Branch - Led by the President of the United States.
  • Legislative Branch - Congress, which is divided into the Senate and the House of Representatives.
  • Judicial Branch - The federal court system, which is made up of the United States Supreme Court and a network of courts below it.

Students can conduct civic research by visiting the virtual national repositories listed below to view documents that record the history of democracy in the United States:

The National Archives

Housing over 9 billion records, including signed executive orders, genealogical records, patents, historical photographs.


The Library of Congress

Housing books; historic maps, photos, and documents; and current and historical legislative information.


National Museum of American History

Displaying the social, political, cultural, scientific, and military heritage of the United States.


We believe public education is the cornerstone of our republic. Public education provides individuals with the skills to be involved, informed, and engaged in our representative democracy. 
NEA vision, mission, and values statement


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  • NEA Tribute to Justice John Paul Stevens
    Justice Stevens’ authored nearly 400 majority opinions, many of them protecting the rights of education employees and students.  
  • Executive Branch
    Led by the President of the United States. 
  • Legislative Branch
    Resources for Teaching About the Legislative Branch of the Federal Government
  • Judicial Branch
    The system of courts that decides arguments about the meaning of laws, how they are applied, and whether they violate the Constitution.