Building Democracy for All


14th AmendmentAmendmentFundamental Principles and Values of American Political and Civic Life
Passed in 1868, the 14th Amendment guaranteed citizenship and due process and equal protection under the law to anyone born or naturalized in the United States (except certain indigenous Americans). One of the three Reconstruction Amendments—the 13th, 14th, and 15th—that give to the federal government the power to protect individual rights in the states.
AmendmentAmendments to the Constitution
Approved or proposed change (either by addition, subtraction, or substitution) to the United States or state constitution.
Articles of ConfederationThe Articles of Confederation
Document establishing the first national government of the United States from 1781 to 1789.
Bill of Rights14th AmendmentArticles of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights
First ten amendments to the United States Constitution, including the rights of Americans in relation to their government.
BroadsideWriting the News: Different Formats and Their Functions
A strongly worded informational poster that spreads criticisms of people or policies impacting a group or community, usually displayed on single large sheets of paper, one side only, and designed to have an immediate emotional impact on readers.
CensorshipFreedom of the Press
Suppression by governments or political groups of words, images or ideas that are deemed offensive
ChatGPTDigital News and Social Media
An AI (artificial intelligence) writing tool that produces text in response to questions or prompts from users.
Civic HolidayRights and Responsibilities of Citizens and Non-Citizens
A day of recognition of individuals or events established by local, state, or national government.
CivicsRights and Responsibilities of Citizens and Non-Citizens
From the French word “civique,” meaning citizen, the study of what people need to know and do (their rights, roles, and responsibilities) as members of a democratic society.
Civil Rights Act of 1964Fundamental Principles and Values of American Political and Civic Life
Landmark legislation prohibiting discrimination in voting, employment or education based on race, religion, sex, or national origin.
ConstitutionDemocratic GovernmentUnited States and Massachusetts Constitutions
A document that sets forth the basic principles of a nation or state, the structures and processes of government and the fundamental rights of citizens; the "law of the land."
Critical media literacyMedia LiteracyFreedom of the Press and News/Media Literacy
Knowledge, skills, and competencies to access and analyze the content of multiple media (print and digital) while also analyzing who produces media, why they do so, and what impacts that media has on people and society.
Day of recognitionRights and Responsibilities of Citizens and Non-Citizens
A day designated at the local, state or national level honoring the historical accomplishments of change makers in history.
DemocracyThe Government of Ancient Athens
Government of the people, by the people and for the people.
Democratic Government
System of government where people chose their leaders through free and open elections.
Democratic schools
Educational organizations where teachers, students, administrators and community members make decisions openly and collectively.
Digital Choice Board
An online visual display that gives students multiple ways to learn about a topic featuring hyperlinks to digital resources and tools as well as higher order, creative learning activities.
Digital government
Widespread use of technology for government functions.
DiscriminationCivil Rights and Equal Protection for Race, Gender, and Disability
Unfair or unjust treatment of another person or group based on skin color, age, gender, or ethnicity; also called bias or prejudice.
An abbreviation for electronic books; refers to material that is delivered digitally to readers using laptops, smartphones, or other mobile devices.
ElectionDemocratic GovernmentElections and Nominations
Process by which voters choose individuals to represent them in federal, state, or local government.
Electoral CollegeElections and Nominations
System used in U.S. Presidential elections where people vote for a slate of electors who represent a candidate; the candidate receiving 270 or more electoral votes wins the Presidency.
Employee owned businessComponents of Local Government
An organization where the workers, not outside shareholders, own all or most of the business and make decisions about its operation; also known as worker owned business.
Enumerated powersEnumerated and Implied Powers
Specific powers granted to the Congress by Article 1 Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution.
Executive branchBranches of the Government and the Separation of Powers
Individuals, agencies and organizations in a government that carry out a nation or state's laws and policies.
Executive privilegeChecks and Balances Between the Branches of Government
Policy that allows a President and his close advisors to refuse to turn over to Congress or the court documents and discussions they had about national and international policies.
A system of government in the United States (and most other democracies) that divides and shares power between a national (or federal) government and the various states in the country.
First AmendmentArticles of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights
Freedoms of speech, press, petition, religion, and peaceful protest established by the Bill of Rights to the U.S. Constitution.
Generation AlphaGeneration Z
Term for those born between 2010 and 2024.
Generation ZDigital News and Social Media
The term for those born between the mid 1990s and 2010; also known as “Gen Z”; “post-millennials”; “screeners”; or the “i-Generation".
GerontocracyThe Roles of the Congress, the President, and the Courts
Government run by older people.
GerrymanderingThe Role of Political Parties
Practice of redrawing legislative district lines in order to help one political party win elections and maintain political control.
Heraean GamesThe Government of Ancient Athens
Athletic competitions for women and girls in Ancient Greece.
Instant Runoff/Ranked Choice VotingElections and Nominations
A election system that allows voters to vote for candidates in order of preference. If no candidate gets a majority of votes, the one with the fewest votes is eliminated and those who ranked that candidate first have their votes transferred to the second preference and so on until one candidate gets more than 50% of the vote.
Inverted pyramidWriting the News: Different Formats and Their Functions
Journalism format where the lead, or main points of a news article—the who, what, when, where, why and how of a story—are placed at the top or beginning followed by additional and less important, but still relevant information.
January 6, 2021 InsurrectionPolitical Courage and Those Who Affirmed or Denied Democratic Ideals
Attack on the U.S. Capitol by a mob of supporters of Donald Trump intended to disrupt the counting of electoral votes by members of Congress.
Judicial branchArticles of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights
The part of a government that decides the meaning of laws and administers justice through trials and other court proceedings. The Supreme Court has the power of judicial review of court decisions.
Legislative branchThe Roles of the Congress, the President, and the Courts
The part of a government that makes or changes laws. The U.S. Congress has also the power to declare war, regulate interstate commerce and control taxing and spending.
Local governmentComponents of Local Government
The people and institutions that run cities and towns, including mayors, select boards, city councils and town meetings.
Media LiteracyEvaluating Print and Online Media
Knowledge, skills, and competencies to access, analyze, and produce multiple forms of media.
Mixed gender sportsCivil Rights and Equal Protection for Race, Gender, and Disability
Individual and team events that have inclusive, balanced participation gender identities.
Rule by one individual who inherited the position by birth.
News desertsCompeting Information in a Free Press
Communities where people lack access to reliable news and information due to the closing of local newspapers.
Rule by a small group or elite.
Pirate democracyBritish Influences on American Government
The idea that 15 to 18th century pirate ships and pirate settlements engaged in early forms of democratic self-government well before European societies ruled by kings and queens.
Political Action Committee (PAC)Public and Private Interest Groups, PACs, and Labor Unions
Organizations that collect and donate funds to political candidates.
Political partyThe Role of Political Parties
Group of people who share ideas about government and seek to elect candidates and enact policies that support those ideas.
PressFreedom of the Press
The reporters, photographers, commentators, editorial writers and behind-the-scenes workers in media organizations that bring us the news.
Recommendation AlgorithmsAnalyzing Editorials, Editorial Cartoons, or Op-Ed Commentaries
Computer programs on social media sites that direct content to users based on what they have viewed, bought, or done before.
Regressive taxationTax-Supported Facilities and Services
Regressive taxation (such as a state lottery) happens lower-earning individuals spend a higher percentage of their incomes on games of chance in which they have little opportunity to earn back what they are spending.
RightsBill of RightsRights and Responsibilities of Citizens and Non-Citizens
Protections guaranteed to all Americans under the law.
School boardComponents of Local Government
A locally elected group that oversees school policies and spending and makes decisions that impact all students and families in a district; also known as a school committee.
School financeTax-Supported Facilities and Services
Means by which public schools pay for their operation from a combination of local and state funding as well as grants and other sources of revenue.
Shadow docketThe Roles of the Congress, the President, and the Courts
One of the types of cases decided by the Supreme Court, usually unsigned with one or two sentence opinions and without public access to the arguments or which justices voted one way or the other.
Spectator stateSwing stateElections and Nominations
States that consistently award their electoral votes to either the Democratic (e.g., Massachusetts, California, New York) or the Republican (e.g., Texas, Oklahoma, Montana) candidate in Presidential elections.
State governmentThe Structure of Massachusetts State and Local Government
The institutions that provide government for an entire state - including its governor, legislature, and state court system.
Swing stateElections and Nominations
A state (also known as a battleground state) that may chose either the Democratic or the Republican Presidential candidate depending on the election.
Tenth Amendment10th Amendment to the Constitution
Part of the Bill of Rights guaranteeing any powers not granted to the federal government “are reserved to the states, or to the people.”
The PressFreedom of the Press and News/Media Literacy
The people (reporters, photographers, commentators, editorial writers and behind-the-scenes workers) and media organizations (online and in print) that bring us the news.
TransgenderLiberty in Conflict with Equality or Authority
Individuals whose gender identity is different from the sex they were assigned at birth; also known as nonbinary.
TyrannyChecks and Balances Between the Branches of Government
Rule by an authoritarian leader who suppresses dissent, often through violent means. See also dictatorship.
VotingDemocracyVoting and Citizen Participation in the Political Process
Method of making decisions and/or electing candidates where each individual freely expresses their preferences.
WhistleblowerCompeting Information in a Free Press
A person who exposes illegal or unsafe actions by government, corporations or private individuals.
Worker cooperativesComponents of Local Government
Organizations where workers make decisions democratically; see also, worker/employee owned businesses.

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