The Making of Good Citizens: Rights and Responsibilities

​In this lesson, students will learn about the rights and responsibilities of a good citizen as outlined in the Oregon Constitution. They will weigh the rights and responsibilities of a citizen against the needs of schools to limit those rights.


55 minute class period


Students will learn about and analyze the rights and responsibilities of a good citizen as outlined in the Oregon Constitution.

Oregon Standards

HS.34: Explain the responsibilities of citizen (e.g., vote, pay taxes).
HS.63: Engage in informed and respectful deliberation and discussion of issues, events, and ideas.

Oregon Common Core State Standards

Reading Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies
2: Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.
3: Analyze how and why individuals, events, or ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.
6: Assess how point of view or purpose shapes the content and style of a text.
9: Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.

NCSS Standards

Theme X: Civic Ideals and Practices


  1. Teacher background handout Lesson 1
  2. Student handout: “Your School and Your Rights as an Oregon Citizen”
  3. Oregon Constitution:
  4. “Free-Speech Zone: The Administration Quarantines Dissent” (article):
  5. “Secret Service Ordered Local Police to Restrict Anti-Bush Protesters at Rallies, ACLU ​Charges in Unprecedented Nationwide Lawsuit” (article):


  1. Students take survey and give their school a grade (see student handout). Prior to taking the survey teacher should point out that each question correlates to aspects of the Oregon Constitution.
  2. Class discussion about activity: Discuss reasons for scoring, how the questions correlate to the Oregon Constitution and why some rights in the constitution may or may not be appropriate in the school (for example, “right to bear arms”).
  3. As a class, read one or both of the following articles on free speech zones:
    1. “Free-Speech Zone: The Administration Quarantines Dissent” (
    2. “Secret Service Ordered Local Police to Restrict Anti-Bush Protesters at Rallies, ACLU Charges in Unprecedented Nationwide Lawsuit” (​)
  4. After finishing the reading(s), the teacher should facilitate a class discussion on the following discussion points:
    1. What responsibilities are associated with having free speech rights?
    2. What is patriotism (i.e. to blindly follow or challenge authority)?
    3. Finish with a discussion on the importance of voting and how it ties into an individual’s free speech rights, responsibilities, and as an act of patriotism.

Extension Activities

Have students look at the requirements to become "citizen of the month" established at feeder middle and elementary schools and discuss why the standards are in or out of sync with what a truly good citizen requires. For instance expect the requirements to ask students to sit quietly and not be disrespectful, while a "good" citizen in a democracy is expected to question authority and challenge abuse of power.

Teacher Background Handout

“Your School and Your Rights as an Oregon Citizen” handout: The questions on this handout are aligned with specific sections of Oregon’s Bill of Rights. It is recommended that while doing the questionnaire students have a copy of the Oregon Constitution readily available, so they can see how the questions are correlated to the bill of rights. The Constitution can be accessed in the Oregon Blue Book. The link for the Blue Book is available under “resources” in the lesson plan.

When discussing the scoring of the school with the students, teachers may also want to have students discuss what responsibilities are associated with each of the rights students believe they should have in the schools.


Free Speech Zones: Areas set aside in public places for people to exercise their right of free speech. Sometimes they are specifically established to be away from or out of the view of areas where masses of people will gather.

Your School and Your Rights as an Oregon Citizen: A Report Card


Learn about the Bill of Rights and grade your school’s ability to meet those rights as outlined in Oregon’s Constitution. Read each statement and assess how accurately it describes your school community. Remember that members of your school include students, teachers, administrators, and staff. The numbers in the parenthesis at the end of the statement refer to the sections of Article I of the Oregon Bill of Rights to which the statement refers. After answering all the questions, total up your score to determine the overall score for your school. The final score will be between 25-100, with the higher score representing a better grade.

Rating Scale

1 – no/never
2 – rarely
3 – often
4 – yes/always

  1. Students feel safe and secure at my school (Sect. 1)
  2. All students are allowed to worship their religion in school. For example they can read the Bible, pray, discuss their religion with other students, staff, etc (Sect. 2 & 3)
  3. Students in my school can produce class work and publications (i.e. posters, school newspaper, club items, etc.) without fear of censorship or punishment (Sect. 8)
  4. My personal space and possessions are respected. Additionally, my bags, lockers, etc. are not subject to randomly being gone through by school personnel (Sect. 9 & 18)
  5. Students and staff are allowed to bring guns to school (Sect. 27)
  6. Students accused of wrong doing are presumed innocent until proven guilty (Sect. 11)
  7. Members of my school community are able to take adequate rest/lunch time during the school day and work reasonable hours in good work conditions (Sect. 34)
  8. Students in my school have the right to form associations within the school to advocate for their rights or the rights of others (Sect. 26)
  9. Students in my school have the opportunity to participate in democratic decision-making processes to develop school policies and rules (Sect. 26)
  10. My school does not give honorary titles to any members of my school community and does not treat some members of the school community differently because of previous family members who have come to the school before them (Sect. 29)
  11. There are no restrictions on members of my school community being able to leave school property during school operating hours (Sect. 30)
  12. No students in our school ever receive degrading treatment or punishment (Sect. 13 & 16)
  13. When students are accused of wrongdoing in my school they are able to have their peers (other students) determine their guilt (Sect. 17)
  14. My school provides equal access, resources, activities, and scheduling accommodations for all students (Sect. 20)
  15. Students can attempt to alter school rules if they believe some of the rules are improper (Sect. 1)
  16. When a student violates the rights of other students or school rules the student is helped to learn how to change his or her behavior (Sect. 15)
  17. No extra costs are incurred by students for school supplies beyond the expected payments at the beginning of the school year (Sect. 32)
  18. Students and staff in my school are not discriminated against based upon their religious belief or lack thereof (Sect. 3, 4 & 6)
  19.  When students are being disciplined by administration any members of the school community can be made aware of the nature of the allegation and the discipline the student receives (Sect. 10)
  20. Students cannot be disciplined twice for the same offense and do not have to incriminate themselves when they are accused of wrongdoing (Sect. 12)
  21. Students are always treated with respect regardless of their life style choices, such as associating with a peer group, style of dress, and activities in which he or she participates (Sect. 1)
  22.  Students can freely express themselves through speech, slang, writing, and/or music at school (Sect. 8)
  23. When students are disciplined the sentence takes into consideration the safety of the members of the school community (Sect. 15)
  24. Students are not suspended or removed from school due to school debts, such as library fines, parking fines, etc (Sect. 19)
  25. My school has students, teachers, and staff from diverse backgrounds and cultures and provides them with the opportunity to have the feeling of having an equal stake in the school (Sect. 1)

Adapted from D. Shiman & K. Rudelius-Palmer, Economic and Social Justice: A Human Rights Perspective (Minneapolis: Human Rights Resource Center, University of Minnesota, 1999)