Syllabus

Date Assigned: 10/05/2011

Date Due: 01/05/2012

A.P. U.S. Government and Politics

Course Description and Outline

 

A.P. Government and Politics is a class designed to introduce students to the key concepts of American Government and politics on a college level. The readings, lectures, and various assignments will allow the student to critically analyze the American political system both for its strengths and weaknesses. The class focuses on the structure of government as well as the political behaviors of officials and citizens.

 

Course Requirements 

This class, though held in a high school classroom, is a college course. Therefore, the reading will be extensive and must be completed in advance of the material covered in class.  Students are expected to demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of the topics presented in the text, supplements, and lectures. My lectures will not duplicate what is found in the text or the supplemental readings. Though some repetition and reinforcement between sources is intended and desirable, it is imperative to note using only one form of information will not suffice. In other words, do not rely solely on lecture notes in place of reading the materials yourself or vice versa.    

 

Tests and Quizzes

In order to measure learning, guide understanding, and prepare you for the A.P. exam, testing is important and will make up a majority of your grade. You should expect quizzes on the assigned reading material and a major test at the end of each unit. Major exams grades are determined 50% on multiple choice and 50% based on response to essay. The format is similar to what you will see on the A.P. exam in the spring. The essay portion will ask that you answer a number of shorter interpretive and/or analytical writings. You will be asked to analyze data presented in graphs, charts or evaluate political cartoons as a part of each unit test. A mock A.P. exam given in its entirety will serve as a final exam and will constitute 60% of the last 6 weeks grade. If  you are absent on the day of a quiz or exam, you will be given an alternate assessment and it must be taken within the week of your return.

 

Project Assignments

Project assignments are given as an opportunity to integrate information between the text and current events in politics. These are usually collaborative between students, and leads to success achieved when everyone uses the highest personal responsibility. Each person will receive a grade in accordance with the quality of work he or she has provided as his or her portion of the project. Absence on the day a research assignment or presentation is due will result in a 10 point deduction on the project grade.

 

Reading Reflection and Media Journal

Media Journal entries will be submitted both in the fall and spring as a way to independently apply what you are learning to current political events. You will be responsible for completing a media journal with excerpts from national news sources such as the Washington Post, Washington Times, New York Times, summaries of stories on NPR, or coverage of political events on C-Span/C-Span II.

Reading reflections are to be submitted from the supplemental text Classic ideas and current issues in American Government  by Bose and DiIulio, as well as any other separate readings that may be given out in photo copy format.

 

Each 6 weeks your grade will be computed using the following formula

Tests – weighted three times                             Quizzes- weighted once

Reading Reflection/ Media Journal- weighted once       

Projects/Participation – weighted twice

 

Texts

Lowi, Theodore J., American Government: Power and Purpose.  New York:

            W.W. Norton & Company, 2004.

Bose, Meena and John J. DiIulio, Jr. Classic ideas and current issues in American          

            Government.  Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2007.

Edwards, Wattenberg, and Lineberry, Government in America: people, politics, and 

policy. 14 edition, Advanced placement ed. New York: Longman, Pearson Education, Inc., 2009.

Matthews, Chris. Hardball: how politics is played told by the one who knows the game.

            New York: Free Press, 1988.

Students will be required to purchase or obtain a copy of the book Hardball by Chris Matthews. This book costs around 16 dollars new at Barnes and Noble. This book maybe found for a less expensive price on Amazon or other online sites that sell used books. Students will need to have a copy of this book by September 6th.

 

Course Calendar

Unit 1 Constitutional Underpinnings  (1 week)

Text: Chapter 2 and pages 100-107

Bose Reader: Chapter 1

Unit 2 Federalism  (1 week)

Text: Chapter 3

Bose Reader: Chapter 2

Unit 3 Civil Rights and Civil Liberties  (1.5 weeks)

Text: Chapter 4

Bose Reader: Chapter 13

Unit 4 The Judicial Branch  (1 week)

Text: Chapter 8

Bose Reader: Chapter 12

Unit 5 The Congress  (2 weeks)

Text: Chapter 5

Bose Reader; Chapter 9

Unit 6 The Executive Branch: President and the Bureaucracy  (2 weeks)

Text: Chapter 7

Bose Reader: Chapters 10 and 11

Unit 7 Political Beliefs and Behaviors of Individuals and Media  (2.5 weeks)

Text: Chapter 1, 9, 13

Bose Reader: Chapters 3, 4, 5 and 8

Unit 8 Political Parties, Interest Groups, and Elections  (2.5 weeks)

Text: Chapter 11, 12, 10

Bose Reader: Chapters 6 and 7

Unit 9 Public Policy: Domestic, Economic, Foreign  (2.5 weeks)

Text: Chapter 14, 15, 16

Bose Reader: Chapter 9

 

Unit 1  Constitutional Underpinnings  (1 week)

Text: Chapter 2 and pages 100-107 of Chapter 3

Bose Reader: Chapter 1

            Second Treatise, Of Civil Government by John Locke

            Founding Fathers: A Reform Caucus in Action by John Roche

            Framing the Constitution by Charles A. Beard

            Federalist 10, 47,48, 51 by James Madison

            Marbury v. Madison

            The Articles of Confederation

 

Key topics

  • Considerations that influenced the formulation and adoption of the Constitution
  • Separation of Powers
  • Theories of Democratic Government

 

Test: Be prepared to answer multiple choice questions related to the key concepts and terms of the text. Be prepared to answer essay questions regarding separation of powers, a republican form of government, factors influencing the development of the Constitution and arguments regarding its ratification. You will be asked to analyze a political cartoon and quotes for at least one of these topics.

 

Unit 2 Federalism  (1 week)

Text: Chapter 3

Bose Reader: Chapter 2

            Federalist 16, 17 by Alexander Hamilton

            Federalist 55, 39  by James Madison

            McCulloch v. Maryland

            United States v. Lopez

            Hard Road Ahead: Block Grants and the “Devolution Revolution” Rich Nathan

 

Key topics

  • Federalism
  • Devolution

 

Project: Your group will act as a news team covering a current event that requires action on the federal, state, and local government. You are to present coverage of the event, an update on the actions of each level of government and pro-con pundit analysis of the government’s response to the event. (Example events: Immigration, Hurricane Katrina, gay marriage, global warming, economic crisis, healthcare reform)

 

Test: Be prepared to answer multiple choice questions related to the key concepts and terms of the text. Be prepared to respond in writing to charts or data related to the growth/decline of federal spending, the number of federal employees vs. state employees, and the impact on each level of government and politicians within each level.

 

Unit 3 Civil Rights and Liberties (1.5 weeks)

Text: Chapter 4

Bose Reader: Chapter 13

            Gideon v. Wainwright

            New York Times Co. v. Sullivan

            Plessy v. Ferguson

            Brown v. Board of Education

            Engel v. Vitale

            Roe v. Wade

            Grutter v. Bollinger

 

Key topics:

  • The Structure and Function of the Federal Courts
  • The decision making process of the court
  • How the Judicial Branch is linked to the Executive and Legislative Branches
  • The impact of court decisions on separation of powers and federalism
  • How the following interact with the courts: public opinion and voters, interest groups, political parties, media , subnational governments

 

Project: Your legal team will present information explaining the extent of a right or liberty based upon previous decisions of the Supreme Court related to your assigned right or liberty. Presentations will be given in power point fashion with accompanying outline provided to fellow students.

 

Project: You will appear in class as a Supreme Court Justice. The “court” will discuss various circumstances regarding their appointments, significant cases over which you presided, the personality of your court, the impact of your courts decisions on the future of the nation both intended and unintended. The court will hold debate over more modern issues in the hands of the court and use the personality of your justice to deliver your argument.

 

Test: Be prepared to answer multiple choice questions related to the key terms and concepts of the text. Essay questions will require that you incorporate new information in this unit with information of previous units. For example the role of the court in the expansion of the federal government, how that is linked to the appointment process and political climate of time periods, the role of the courts in the process of devolution. How court decisions have both enhanced and weakened separation of powers. The test will require an interpretation of a political cartoon regarding the court’s power.

 

Unit 5 The Congress (2 weeks)

Text: Chapter 5

Bose Reader: Chapter 9

            Federalist 53, 56, 57, 58, 62, 63, 67 Alex Hamilton or James Madison

            Congress: The Electoral Connection  by David Mayhew

            Home Style: House Members in Their Districts by Richard F. Fenno, Jr

            Congress Bashing for Beginners by David R. Mayhew

 

Key topics:

  • The structure and function of the House and Senate
  • The elections of members of Congress and limiting power
  • The specific powers of House and Senate and limiting power
  • The relationship of Congress to the Executive and Judicial Branches
  • The link between Congress and public opinion, the voters, interest groups, political parties, the media, and subnational governments

 

Test: Be prepared to answer multiple choice questions related to the key terms and concepts of the text. Essay questions will require that you interpret and analyze data presented in tables and graphs related to incumbency rates, campaign finance, apportionment, and disbursement of federal monies. Other essay questions will require that you demonstrate an understanding of Congress’s ability to delegate more power to the other branches and ability to evaluate the impact of its decisions to do so on future political behaviors.

 

Unit 6 The Executive Branch: President and Bureaucracy (2 weeks)

Text: Chapter 7

Bose Reader: Chapters 10 and 11

Federalist 70 by Alexander Hamilton

Presidential Power by Richard Neustadt

The Presidential Difference by Fred I. Greenstein

The Two Presidencies by Aaron Wildavsky

Improving Government Performance: An Owner’s Manual by DiIulio, Jr., Garvey, and Kettl

Government by Proxy: A Faithful Overview by John DiIulio, Jr.

Bureaucracy: What Government Agencies Do and Why They Do It  by James Q. Wilson

 

Key Topics:

  • The formal and informal arrangement of Presidential and Bureaucratic Power
  • The relationship of the President to the Legislative and Judicial Branches
  • The relationship of the President to the Bureaucracy
  • The Link between the Executive Branch and public opinion, voters, interest groups, political parties, the media, and subnational governments.

 

 

Project:

You will appear in class as members of the iron triangle. The setting is a congressional hearing. You are either contesting proposed legislation, budget changes, or pushing for the development of a new program. The item you use to present your triangle should be a legitimate question of government within the last five years. You will provide visuals for the public to demonstrate your stance on the policy and you will show in your own language an understanding of the relationship between the members of the iron triangle.

 

Test: Be prepared to answer multiple choice questions related to the key terms and concepts of the text. You will be asked to respond in writing to quantitative and visually presented information. Examples of topics to be prepared for are use of vetoes and veto threats by Presidents, use of executive orders, public appearances or addresses.

 

Unit 7 Political Beliefs and Behaviors of Individuals and Media (2.5 weeks)

Text: Chapter 1, 9, 13

Bose Reader: 3, 4, 5, and 8

            Bowling Alone: America’s Declining Social Capital by Robert Putnam

            Culture War? The Myth of a Polarized America  by Morris P. Fiorina

            The Responsible Electorate by V.O. Key, Jr.

            The Myth of the Vanishing Voter by McDonald and Popkin

            Engaging Youth: Combating the Apathy of Young Americans Toward Politics by    

            Kevin Mattson

            Where Have All the Voters Gone? Martin P. Wattenberg

            The Phantom Public by Walter Lippman

            Spin Cycle: How the White House and the Media Manipulate the News by

            Howard Kurtz

            Media Research Center Report: The Liberal Media by Rich Noyes

 

Key topics:

  • Beliefs that citizens hold about their government and its leaders
  • Processes by which citizens learn about politics
  • The nature, sources, and consequences of public opinion
  • The ways in which citizens vote and otherwise participate in political life
  • Factors that influence citizens to differ from one another in terms of political beliefs and behaviors
  • The function and structure of the media and its impact on politics.

 

Test: Be prepared to answer multiple choice questions related to the key terms and concepts of the text. You will be asked to respond to visual information regarding public opinion, how it can or can’t be used by politicians to develop public policy. How data is used to predict or incorrectly predict elections. How the media and politicians use one another. Other essay questions will ask that you demonstrate knowledge of predictors of political behavior.

 

Unit 8 Political Parties, Interest Groups, and Elections (2.5 weeks)

Text: Chapter 11, 12, 10

Bose Reader: 6 and 7

            Federalist 10 by James Madison

            Buckley v. Valeo

            The Social Basis of Politics by Stephen J. Wayne

            The Semisovereign People: A Realist’s View of Democracy in America by E.E.

            Schattschneider

            Showdown at Gucchi Gulch: Lawmakers, Lobbyists, and the Unlikely Triumph of

            of Tax Reform by Birnbaum and Murray

 

Key topics:

  • Functions, organizations, development, effects on the political process of political parties
  • Electoral laws and systems and their impact on political strategies
  • Activities of interest groups and political action committees
  • The range of interests represented by interest groups
  • The effects of interest groups on the political process
  • The characteristics and roles of PACs in the political process

 

Test: Be prepared to answer multiple choice questions related to the key terms and concepts of the test. You will be asked to respond to visual information on maps, charts, and graphs related to elections, and political party strength. You can also expect to analyze graphs and charts related to PAC’s and campaigns. Other questions will ask that you incorporate information in this unit related to interest groups with previous units covering the institutions of government.

 

Unit 9 Public Policy: Domestic, Economic, Foreign (2.5 weeks)

Text: Chapter 14, 15, 16

Bose Reader: Chapter 9

  • Congress as Watchdog: Asleep on the Job? By David Nather
  • Senate Races Against the Nuclear Clock on Judges by David Nather
  • Congress Skirts Issue with Sham Disaster Plan by Norman Ornstein

Key topics:

  • Policymaking in a federal system
  • The formation of policy agendas
  • The role of institutions in the enactment of policy
  • The role of bureaucracy and the courts in policy implementation and interpretation
  • The link between the policy making process and the following: political institutions and federalism, political parties, interest groups, public opinion, elections, and policy networks.

Test: Be prepared to answer multiple choice questions related to the key terms and concepts of the text. Essay questions will ask that you incorporate a full knowledge of the political institutions of government in the development of public policy. You will be expected to respond to visual information regarding the current and previous foreign polices of the United States. You will also be expected to analyze the influence of public opinion and non-instructional factors on the policy making process.

A.P. Government College Board Exam for 2012

8 am  Tuesday, May 10

U.S. Government and Politics

 

TC has started testing at Biltmore Baptist Church. Currently that is the testing site for the upcoming year. If this changes we will let you know.  The fee for each exam is $87.

The AP United States Government and Politics Exam is 2 hours and 25 minutes long.

It includes a 45-minute multiple-choice section consisting of 60 questions

and a 100-minute free-response section consisting of 4 questions.