- Civics is based on the Latin root “civicus,” which means “of a citizen.” The overall goal of civics is to teach the value of being an active citizen in the community. According to the Newspaper Association of America Foundation civics “teaches the importance of taking part in politics and choosing the leaders of local, state and national government. It teaches how laws shape society and how they protect individuals.”
- The Declaration of Independence declared our independence from Great Britain, and stated that the colonies were free. There are three natural and unalienable rights outlined in the Declaration of Independence: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
- The Constitution is considered the “supreme law of the land,” according to S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. It was written in 1787, and it established a system of government – representative democracy. The Constitution sets up the government, defines the government, and protects the basic rights of Americans.
- In representative democracy, citizens choose a president to lead the executive branch of the government. However, because of the system of checks and balances established by the Constitution, the president cannot exercise absolute control.
- The first three words of the Constitution are “We the People,” which represent our nation’s value of self-governance.
- The first 10 amendments to the Constitution are called the Bill of Rights.
- An amendment is a change that can be made to the Constitution. The Framers of the Constitution created the Constitution to be a living document, meaning it can be added to and edited as the country continues to grow. To this date, there are 27 amendments to the Constitution.
- The First Amendment protects a citizen’s right to freedom of expression and freedom of religion. Congress cannot pass laws that establish an official religion and, therefore, cannot limit religious expression. Additionally, the First Amendment protects the press’ right to free speech.
- Over time, there have been four amendments made to the Constitution regarding who has the right to vote. These amendments include: citizens eighteen and older can vote; citizens do not have to pay a poll tax; any male citizen of any race can vote; and any citizen, either man or woman, can vote.
- There are two responsibilities of U.S. citizens. We are expected to serve on a jury and vote in federal elections.
- To run for president, a candidate must be a native-born citizen. Naturalized citizens cannot run for office. In addition to the benefits of citizenship, U.S. citizens have certain responsibilities: respect the law, stay informed on issues, participate in the democratic process, and pay their taxes.
- The United States functions on a capitalist economic system, in which competition and profit motivates businesses.
Important Civics Terms | Social Studies
Civics and Government is an important part of the TASC Test Assessing Secondary Completion™ Social Studies subtest. Not only do test takers have to understand civics in terms of Civic Life, Politics, and Government, but also in terms of the Foundations of the American Political system. Civics is an important high emphasis area. One of the best ways to access both of the TASC test’s focuses is to familiarize yourself with important civics terms. We’ve collected some of those important terms to help you prepare: