By examining history-social science learning standards in the state of California, an argument is made that schools should be concerned about more than narrowly defined academic achievement goals. Instead, a review of those standards suggests that schools are responsible for helping to foster democratic citizenship that grows out of a strong American identity. An argument is made that character and civic education offer rich resources for addressing goals of democratic citizenship. However, this argument is qualified by the necessity of informed and sustained principal leadership so that strong programs take hold and grow. The conclusion is drawn that schools can foster democratic citizenship if there are modifications to the standards that call for more active civic practice, policies that allow good principals to stay in place, and greater policy level articulation and support of education for American identity and democratic citizenship.