Model City Council Curriculum for Albuquerque is a teacher-friendly, Common Core-aligned, modular curriculum. The full package is designed for 10 one-hour classes and an extra-curricular mock council session. But the unit can be shortened as necessary, reconfigured to fit longer class sessions or expanded where time is available or to offer extra credit. Lessons are organized to build on one another, but many can stand alone. Teachers outside of Albuquerque can adapt it to reflect their own local government.
This is hands-on civics. The curriculum begins with an overview of city government and an examination of a City Council district, and concludes with a mock City Council debate of an issue. Students investigate issues in their own neighborhood, propose projects to improve it, read a city ordinance and related newspaper articles, hold a mock election, practice parliamentary procedure, and advocate or oppose an issue relevant to teenagers (a curfew). From the beginning, students are asked to look at social and political issues from multiple perspectives.
Opportunities also exist to involve teachers of other courses and their students. Journalism or media students could work on mock coverage of the participatory budgeting process or the council meeting. Speech students could work with project proposal advocates and council candidates. Business students could cost-out project proposals.
The Model City Council Facebook page allows you and your students to connect with others across the city who have engaged with the activities in these lessons.
Model City Council was developed by Common Cause New Mexico, the state chapter of a nonpartisan citizen advocacy group founded in 1970. Common Cause works for open, honest, accountable government at all levels and increased citizen engagement. Please provide any feedback to Sally Davis.
We hope this curriculum gives students both knowledge and practice in promoting open-minded discussion, analyzing issues, making decisions and taking action for the benefit of their communities. Even more, we hope it allows students to see the fun that can be had in being civically engaged!
- In Lesson One students will locate their City Council district and look at city government as a whole through a website scavenger hunt.
- In Lesson Two, students begin to ponder: What makes a great city? They will develop a framework for evaluating their city council district, and begin exploring, surveying, and photographing their district.
- In Lesson Three, students look at how one city councilor improved Albuquerque by creating dog parks. They read the city ordinance proposing the dog parks and two newspaper articles, one written before the ordinance was passed and one afterwards.
- In Lesson Four, students give presentations about their district. They learn about participatory budgeting, a democratic process in which community members directly decide how to spend part of a public budget and begin brainstorming ideas to improve their district.
- In Lesson Five, students finish brainstorming ideas to improve their district, and, in groups, begin crafting a proposal for one project.
- In Lesson Six, students continue working on project proposals and learn about parliamentary procedure.
- In Lesson Seven, students practice parliamentary procedure and continue working on project proposals.
- In Lesson Eight, students learn about city elections, present campaign posters and commercials, deliver and/or listen to election speeches and participate in a mock election.
- In Lesson Nine, students vote on their favorite participatory budgeting projects, and prepare a letter or presentation to the councilor about the winning project. They also learn about community-based organizations.
- In Lesson Ten, students study a bill on teen curfews. They decide which role they will play in a mock city council hearing on the bill and practice their role
- In the final Mock Council, students play the role of city councilors, council staff, and advocates and opponents of a city ordinance establishing a curfew for minors. Councilors also present to the Mock Council their class’ participatory budgeting project.