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Good Citizens

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By Beverly S. Krueger

What makes a good citizen? Four things come immediately to mind that describe a good citizen as opposed to an adequate or mediocre citizen much less a poor citizen. Good citizens are law abiding. A society in which all citizens are not equal under the law spawns an underclass which can never through legal means better themselves. Even well written laws do not guarantee equal protection if an element of society is allowed to flout those laws with impunity. When bribery is the rule of law even those who would do good for socity can find themselves blocked. We are blessed to live in a country where the rule of law has greater meaning than in most countries around the world.

If a citizen agrees to abide by the rule of law then it also behooves him to participate fully in civic affairs to guarantee that those laws and their enforcement remain just. In a democratic republic like the United States of America civic participation means at minimum getting out to vote in every election. Our laws are written by those we choose to represent us. We need to take time to learn about candidates and make informed decisions when we enter the voting booth. Voting is the bare minimum for good citizenship. We don't just walk out of the voting booth and then forget about what the government is up to until the next election. Our elected officials need to hear our thoughts on legislation or regulations enacted by the executive branch. And someone needs to be those elected officials. We think of the office of President or United States Senator and believe that running for office is all to rarefied for the likes of us. Local elections sometimes go begging for someone to run. But civic participation on the local level is just as important as on the state or national level. If you're worried about when your street will ever get the pot holes repaired, it's your local officials that make that determination.

A good citizen is also invoved in his community in other ways beyond the civic. That involvement can be anything from developing good relationships with your neighbors to helping with local community events or projects. Coaching a soccer team, helping with the annual community clean-up drive, mowing the lawn for an elderly couple, participating in the annual food drive are all things that good citizens do to help their community.

The fourth duty of a good citizen is lto live a productive lifestyle. A productive person creates something in his community that wasn't there or wouldn't be there if he didn't do it. That can range from offering dry cleaning services to working as a nurse's aide. Productive doesn't have to mean producing goods and services for monetary gain. There are those members of society who dedicate their lives to doing good works are charitable acts. Most productive citizens buy and sell, create goods or services, and do so at a profit to earn their livings.

Our goal as homeschoolers is to see that our children develop these four qualities of good citizenship. We want them to become law abiding, productive citizens who invest themselves in their community and its government. We've provided a listing of resources to assist you in meeting that goal. All are free and have substantial resources many directed specifically at children or teens.

Civics

  • American Visionaries: Frederick Douglas
    Frederick Douglass has been called the father of the civil rights movement. He rose through determination, brilliance, and eloquence to shape the American nation. He was an abolitionist, human rights and women's rights activist, orator, author, journalist, publisher, and social reformer.
    Committed to freedom, Douglass dedicated his life to achieving justice for all Americans, in particular African-Americans, women, and minority groups. He envisioned America as an inclusive nation strengthened by diversity and free of discrimination.
  • Ben's Guide to US Government for Kids
    This site provides learning tools for K-12 students, parents, and teachers. These resources will teach how our government works, the use of the primary source materials of GPO Access, and how one can use GPO Access to carry out their civic responsibilities.
  • Future State
    The student website of the State Department where you can explore the world of international diplomacy and foreign service. Activities and information for all ages including a parent/teacher area.
  • Basic Readings in Democracy
    Democracy in its most basic meaning refers to people ruling themselves. The forms democracy may take are varied, and run from simple, direct town meetings of a few dozen people to elaborate schemes of popular representation for millions. A democracy may take the form of a republic or of a limited monarchy, and the ways in which the people's voices are heard and their will carried out are numerous.This book consists of documents, or readings, relating to the search for common ground, and the notion of what constitutes a "document" is broadly interpreted. There are a number of traditional documents -- court decisions, legislative acts and presidential decrees -- and these are important. Documents such as the Declaration of Independence and Constitution are the bedrock of American political democracy. But there are also letters, essays, surrender speeches and even poems.
  • Kids in the House
    The Office of the Clerk's official children's Web site. The Clerk is an officer in the United States House of Representatives. Explore the role the Office of the Clerk plays in the U.S. House of Representatives. Learn about the legislative process and its effect on you. Experience the exciting world of government like you never have before.
  • White House Kids
    Whitehousekids.gov is an educational opportunity for young Americans to learn about the White House and the President through fun and exciting features. The themes of reading, making good choices (such as going to school) and dreaming about the future are woven into the site's content through the personification of the President's pets and animals.

Productive Lifestyle

  • Think College Early
    The Think College Early website's mission is to help middle-school students and their parents (or legal guardian) plan and prepare for education beyond high school.
  • Occupational Outlook Handbook
    The Occupational Outlook Handbook is a nationally recognized source of career information, designed to provide valuable assistance to individuals making decisions about their future work lives. Revised every two years, the Handbook describes what workers do on the job, working conditions, the training and education needed, earnings, and expected job prospects in a wide range of occupations.
  • BLS Career
    Jobs for kids who like: Music/Arts | Science | P.E./Outdoors | Social Studies | Reading | Math
  • Educational Opportunity Centers
    Help you discover what career and/or school is best for you.

Community Involvement

  • Kids Next Door
    Housing & Urban Development Department's site for learning about good citizenship by particpating in your community and becoming a volunteer.
  • Volunteer Center
    Healthy communities depend on volunteers - like you! Maybe one of these volunteer opportunities fits your interests.
  • Volunteer Match
    VolunteerMatch is the nonprofit, online service that helps interested volunteers get involved with community service organizations throughout the United States. Volunteers enter their ZIP code on the VolunteerMatch web site (www.volunteermatch.org) to quickly find local volunteer opportunities matching individual interests and schedules. This simple, effective service has already generated hundreds of thousands of volunteer referrals nationwide.
  • Points of Light Foundation
    The Points of Light Foundation & Volunteer Center National Network engages and mobilizes millions of volunteers who are helping to solve serious social problems in thousands of communities. Through a variety of programs and services, the Foundation encourages people from all walks of life businesses, nonprofits, faith-based organizations, low-income communities, families, youth, and older adults to volunteer. Includes a youth section.

Law Abiding

  • Justice for Kids and Youth
    This is the Department of Justice website for kids it includes links to informative pages that cover topics like In the Courtroom: the Role of the Federal Prosecutor and The History of the FBI.
  • Understand the Federal Courts
    A pdf document that explains the federal court system for older students.
  • StreetLaw
    Street Law is practical, participatory education about law, democracy and human rights. Through its philosophy and programs, Street Law empowers people to transform democratic ideals into citizen action. Street Law's programs do not end at the door of the classroom. Each student gains essential lessons that can be used for life.
  • Constitutional Rights Foundation
    Constitutional Rights Foundation seeks to instill in our nation's youth a deeper understanding of citizenship through values expressed in our Constitution and its Bill of Rights, and educate them to become active and responsible participants in our society. CRF is dedicated to assuring our country's future by investing in our youth today.
  • Law for Kids
    LawForKids.org is America's first stand alone web site dedicated to teaching children about the law. The Site was created by the Arizona Foundation for Legal Services and Education with the specific goal of educating Arizona's youth, their parents, communities and schools to increase their knowledge about youth laws and to encourage law-abiding behavior.

Copyright ©  2004 Eclectic Homeschool Association

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Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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