Everything you wanted

to know about the

Core Democratic Values

                                         But were afraid

                                              to askÖ



What's the purpose of this site?

Hello, my name is Jim Alvaro and I am the Social Studies Consultant for Anchor Bay Schools.  I am also a teacher consultant for the Michigan Geographic Alliance, and a member of the Executive Board of the Michigan Council For the Study of Social Studies. 

I put together this site because as I work with the K - 7 teachers in my district and others around the state I have been asked to recommend sites on the internet to learn more about the Core Democratic Values and how to integrate them into their Social Studies curriculum.  Well, the good news is that there are lots of great ideas, lessons, and examples, already available on the web.  The bad news is there is also a lot of not so good stuff.  It is my intention to bring the best of what I have found and put it in one place where you can access it whenever you want.

This site is a conglomeration of workshops, seminars, lessons, and talks I attended over the last two years.  Whenever possible, I have listed the source of the material or ideas I have shared.


Just  what  are  the  Core   Democratic  Values?

"The Core Democratic Values are the fundamental beliefs and constitutional principles of our society, which unite all Americans.  They include the ideas of life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, justice, equality, diversity, truth, popular sovereignty, patriotism, and rule of law."


Where did the Core Democratic Values come from?

Good question!  I'm told these values are expressed in the Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution and other significant documents, speeches and writings of our nation such as the Gettysburg Address, the Star Spangled Banner, and the Pledge of Allegiance.


What's the connection between the Core Democratic Values, the real world, and the MEAP test?

On the social studies MEAP, there are two persuasive writing questions.  The students are given information about an imaginary public policy issue and then asked to write a letter in which they take a stand, support that stand with data given in the prompt, with prior social studies knowledge, and a core democratic value.  

Why do we do the Civic Writing piece on the MEAP test you ask?  I attended a session at the Macomb Intermediate School District hosted by Mel Miller.   Karen R. Todorov from the Michigan Department of Education and what follows is a summation of what she shared with us at the session. 

We are talking about having the students do a Civic Writing piece on the MEAP test; Civic Writing is a very specific kind of writing citizens do.  It is different from other kinds of writing we undertake.  We, as educators, want to empower our students to be responsible citizens.   Citizens do the kind of writing we are asking the students to do.  A writing that requires them to clearly state their opinion, to support that opinion with factual information and use one of the CDVs to back up their argument.

If you look at any newspaper, most editorials and letters to the editor are all written in the same way.   When we write to people in Congress,  to anyone in power, this is the format we use to argue as Americans.  This is how we present our ideas.  We clearly state our opinion, back it up with factual information, and support it with a Core Democratic Value.  Knowing what your rights, your Core Democratic Values are, is  crucial to being able to make your argument.

Now you might say, I understand why we need to support our opinion with factual information but why do we need to include a core democratic value.   First of all we are a nation that values diversity.  When people become citizens of the United States they hold up a copy of the Constitution in their right hand.  They promise to uphold that Constitution, the values in it and nothing more.  They don't promise to learn English, to become a Christian, or to vote for anyone special.   The only thing they pledge is that they will uphold the values contained within  the Constitution of the United States.  We can tolerate diversity in the United States as long as we have a central core of values in which we all agree. 

Thatís what these values do.  They let us have my opinions.  My opinion might be different from yours but I am going to try to convince you because you have already bought into the set of values we all agreed on.  This includes such concepts such as; that we are going to respect each other regardless of our differences, that we can allow everyone to speak and share what is on their minds, and we can have people assemble peacefully.   All these ideas are represented in the Core Democratic Values.

  We want to enable our students to communicate with their leaders.  We are going to empower them in a way nothing else can.  Thatís why we are doing this.  We are saying "Here is your civic voice!  This is how citizens speak with their leaders through writing.  Whether it's with a pencil, pen or keyboard the same rules apply.  You state your opinion, back it up, and use a Core Democratic Value to support your position.  Agreeing on these values allow us to be different in every other way, speak a different language, have different religions, like different things and yet have a core set of beliefs to come back to.


Can I take a closer look at them?

Click here to see a short description of each of  the Core Democratic Values.   I have also put together a few pre and post activities you can do with your students.


Who can I talk to?

These people will be happy to answer  any questions you may have.

Jim Alvaro

Anchor Bay Schools

810. 725. 6404


Jeannie Johnson

Grosse Pointe Schools

313. 343. 6771


Stan Masters


517. 265. 1606


Mel Miller

Macomb Intermediate School District

810. 228. 3465


Kathryn Russell

Marquette Public Schools

906. 225. 4281


Roy Sorvis


810. 591. 4520


Karen R. Todorov

Michigan Department of Education

517. 373. 2893



Are there other Core DemocraticValues resources I can check out?  

Here are some of the best web sites, books, and posters currently available.


All information including, but not limited to, graphics, conceptual design, and elements of "look and feel", accessed through this site is the property of Jim Alvaro and Kathy Vredevoogd and may be protected by applicable copyright law.


©2001 Jim Alvaro/Kathy Vredevoogd


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