The California Framework

From “Moral and Civic Education and Teaching About Religion”
California Department of Education
1991, Revised Edition


This 1991 edition was prepared in accordance with the provisions of Senate Concurrent Resolution number 32 and was Adopted by the California State Board of Education.  The following selection is the “framework” adopted for teaching History and Social Science, including attention to religion.

History-Social Science Framework for California Public Schools

Kindergarten Through Grade Twelve (1988)

The Introduction lists 17 distinguishing characteristics of the 1988 History-Social Science Framework. Seven of these characteristics relate directly to moral and civic education and teaching about religion. They are:

  • This framework incorporates a multicultural perspective throughout the history-social science curriculum. It calls on teachers to recognize that the history of community, state, region, nation, and world must reflect the experiences of men and women and of different racial, religious, and ethnic groups.
  • This framework emphasizes the importance of the application of ethical understanding and civic virtue to public affairs. The curriculum provides numerous opportunities to discuss the ethical implications of how societies are organized and governed, what the state owes to its citizens, and what citizens owe to the state. Major historical controversies and events offer an appropriate forum for discussing the ethics of political decisions and for reflecting on individual and social responsibility for civic welfare in the world today.
  • This framework encourages the development of civic and democratic values as an integral element of good citizenship. From the earliest grades students should learn the kind of behavior that is necessary for the functioning of a democratic society. They should learn how to select leaders and how to resolve disputes rationally. They should learn about the value of due process in dealing with infractions, and they should learn to respect the rights of the minority, even if this minority is only a single, dissenting voice. These democratic values should be taught in the classroom, in the curriculum, and in the daily life of the school.
  • This framework supports the frequent study and discussion of the fundamental principles embodied in the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Whether studying United States history or world history, students should be aware of the presence or absence of the rights of the individual, the rights of minorities, the right of the citizen to participate in government, the right to speak or publish freely without governmental coercion, the right to freedom of religion, the right to trial by jury, the right to form trade unions, and other basic democratic rights.
  • This framework encourages teachers to present controversial issues honestly and accurately within their historical or contemporary context. History without controversy is not good history, nor is such history as interesting to students as an account that captures the debates of the times. Students should understand that the events in history provoked controversy as do the events reported in today’s headlines. Through the study of controversial issues, both in history and in current affairs, students should learn that people in a democratic society have the right to disagree, that different perspectives have to be taken into account, and that judgments should be based on reasonable evidence, not on bias and emotion.
  • This framework acknowledges the importance of religion in human history. When studying world history, students must become familiar with the basic ideas of the major religions and the ethical traditions of each time and place. Students are expected to learn about the role of religion in the founding of this country because many of our political institutions have their antecedents in religious beliefs. Students should understand the intense religious passions that have produced fanaticism and war as well as the political arrangements developed (such as separation of church and state) that allow different religious groups to live amicably in a pluralistic society.
  • This framework provides opportunities for students’ participation in school and community service programs and activities. Teachers are encouraged to have students use the community to gather information regarding public issues and become familiar with individuals and organizations involved in public affairs. Campus and community beautification activities and volunteer service in community facilities such as hospitals and senior citizen or day care centers can provide students with opportunities to develop a commitment to public service and help link students in a positive way to their schools and communities.

[Excerpt from “Moral and Civic Education and Teaching About Religion.” 1991 (Revised Edition). California Department of Education. Education Resources Information Center.