AP United States Government & Politics Syllabus

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1 AP United States Government & Politics Syllabus Syllabus The AP Government course will be taught as a second semester course with about twenty-four students. Students will enroll during the second semester and will meet every other day for eighty two minutes. The course relies primarily on the developmental lesson, daily homework, quizzes, multiple-choice and free-response questions. Teaching Strategies The course is evenly divided between lecture and Socratic seminar and some periodic guest speakers from local government officials. Students are responsible for keeping up with events in the news. Each class begins with a discussion of current events (public policy, international relations, etc.). The current events provide concrete connections for each lesson. The Deseret Morning News and The Salt Lake Tribune are delivered daily to our classroom. Course Overview/Description This course explores the political theory and everyday practice that direct the daily operation of our government and shape our public policies. The express purpose of this course is to prepare students to take the AP Exam for U.S. Government and Politics. The course is for all intents and purposes taught on a college level and it requires analysis of how our government works. Students will develop a critical understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the American political system, as well as their rights and responsibilities as citizens. Course Readings There are two required texts for this course: Edwards III, George C., et al. Government In America: people, politics, and policy. 12 th Edition. Pearson Longman, Woll, Peter, ed. Amercan Government: Readings and Cases. 16 th ed. New York: Pearson Longman, These readings will be supplemented with classroom handouts throughout the semester in addition to our classroom subscription to the Deseret Morning News and The Salt Lake Tribune. These two papers have historically had different viewpoints on many issues. Grading and Course Requirements Grades are figured on a cumulative point basis. Each test, quiz, homework assignment, etc., is worth a given number of points

2 according to the quality and level of completion of the work. At the end of a marking period, a grade average is determined by dividing the total points possible by points earned. The following are some of the assignments that will be graded according to competency: Tests, quizzes, public meeting attendance and essay, homework, current events, Woll reading reviews, analytical free-response questions, etc. Current Events Students are responsible for keeping up with the daily events in the nation and the world. Students will need to skim both daily Salt Lake papers, listen to NPR or another radio news program, watch a TV news station such as FOX News and/or CNN, or access a reliable online source. Using Graphs, Maps and Charts Students are tested on their understanding of quantitative and visually presented information (maps and graphs) at regular intervals in the quiz assignments. Reading Assignments and Course Calendar Week One Foundations of American Government: What is the purpose of governments? Define democracy and its challenges. What are contemporary theories of democracy? What was the founders view of the purpose of government and the role of the citizen in the American Republic? Are these views still relevant today? How does the constitution underpin U.S. government? The concept of checks and balances was novel in the 18 th century. Why? How does Madison s concept of checks and balances challenge the theory of separation of powers? Define the following concepts: democratic theory, republicanism, pluralist theory, majoritarianism, and the elite and class theory. Due this Week: Edwards. Chapters 1,2 pp Woll, Chapter 1: Second Treatise of Civil Government. Pp. 3-10

3 Week Two Federalism: Why did the Anti-Federalists fear this new system? Does this new system strengthen or weaken the concept of separation of powers? Why or why not? What are the powers of state and local governments in an era of new federalism and devolution? What influence should the federal government have over state and local issues such as education, affirmative action, abortion and the environment? Due this Week: Edwards. Chapters 2,3 pp Woll, Chapter 2 Federalist 39 and Merits of the Federal System Week Three Civil Liberties and Civil Rights: What constitutes free speech? How does the national Bill of Rights apply to states? Do the courts legislate from the bench? 1. Freedom of Speech, the Press and Assembly: What forms of speech are protected? How is the 1 st Amendment affected in times of crisis? 2. Religion: What constitutes establishment? What are the limits of free exercise? Due this Week: Edwards, Chapter 4 pp Woll, Chapter 3: The Need to Maintain a Free Marketplace of Ideas, pp Woll, Chapter 3: Engle v. Vitale, Zelman v. Simmons-Harris, pp Week Four Civil Liberties and Civil Rights: What is equal protection under the law? How does the national Bill of Rights apply to states? Do the courts legislate from the bench? 1. Life, Liberty and Property: What is procedural due process? Is there a right to privacy? What do property rights mean in relation to community interests? 2. Equal Protection and the 14 th Amendment: How has the interpretation of the equal protection clause changed over time? How have laws like the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and affirmative action influenced our understanding of the clause? Due this Week: Edwards, Chapter 5 pp Woll, Chapter 3: Gideon v. Wainwright, pp Woll, Chapter 3: Plessy v. Ferguson, Brown v. Board of Education I&II, pp Week Five Public Opinion and Political Action: How do we come by our political beliefs? What are the sources of public opinion? What is political culture, and is there a unique American political

4 culture? What is the political spectrum? How do these political beliefs define who we are as citizens? What is the role of the citizen in a civil society? Which citizens vote and why? Media and the Political Agenda: What role do the media play in elections and shaping public opinion? Is the media an impartial observer or an active participant in political elections and in the formation of public policy? Due this Week: Edwards, Chapters 6 and 7. Woll, Chapter 4 Voting Behavior Democratic Practice and Democratic Theory, pp Woll, Chapter 3: New York Times v. Sullivan, pp Week Six Political Parties: What is the difference between a Democrat and a Republican? Are there other options beyond these two choices? Political parties are not mentioned in the constitution, yet they play a critical role. How? Why? Do they serve our democracy or are they an obstacle? What is the impact on American politics of third parties? Due this Week: Edwards: Chapter 8 Woll, Chapter 4: Federalist 10, pp Woll, Chapter 4: Perspectives on American Political Parties, pp Week Seven Nominations and Campaigns: Is this the best system to develop and select leaders? Are citizens well served by the current process? Elections and Voting Behavior: How are candidates selected to run for office? What role is played by party organizations, PACs, and money generally in campaigns? What roles do these groups play in the electoral process? What role should they play? Should the present campaign system be overhauled and reformed? What are sociological and psychological factors that affect voting? Due this Week: Edwards, Chapters 9, 10 Woll, Chapter 5: The Responsible Electorate, pp

5 Week Eight Interest Groups: Interest groups are not mentioned in the constitution yet they play a critical role in politics. How? Why? Do they serve our democracy or are they an obstacle? How do interest groups influence government decisions and policy making? Due this Week: Edwards, Chapter 11 Woll, Chapter 5: Interest Groups and the American Political System, pp Week Nine Public Policy and Congress: How is public policy made? Does the system work as intended? Does the system work for citizens today? How does Congress represent and reflect the interest and desires of the nation? Is Congress representative of the nation as a whole? Is this the most efficient and effective way to make policy? Compare and contrast the makeup and operations of the House and Senate. How has Congress s role in policy formulation changed over time in relation to the other branches? Due this Week: Edwards, Chapter 12 Woll, Chapter 8: All (Each student will be assigned to read a different selection to stimulate discussion.) Week Ten 3 rd Term Final Exam: Includes selected questions from 2002 Multiple Choice Released Exam and analytical free-response questions. Students are also tested on their understanding of quantitative and visually presented information (maps and graphs). Guest Speaker: The Art Institutes from Denver, Colorado spend a day presenting Politics and Advertising. Actual media advertisements for the Democratic and Republican parties are presented and discussed. Week Eleven Public Policy and The Presidency: How is public policy made? Does the system work as intended? Does the system work for citizens today? What are the formal and informal powers of the presidency? How does the president use these powers to influence policy? Is the president too powerful or not powerful enough in the relationship with the legislative and judicial branches? Due this Week: Edwards, Chapter 13 Woll, Chapter 6: Presidential Power, Presidential Paradoxes, Presidential Character, pp Week Twelve Congress, the Presidency and the Budget: How is the federal budget made? What are the trends of federal expenditures? What

6 is the relationship of democracy and budgeting? The Federal Bureaucracy: What is a bureaucracy and how is it organized? How does the bureaucracy implement public policy? How does the bureaucracy act as a regulator? Who controls the bureaucracy: The president? Congress? The people? Does a largely permanent professional bureaucracy serve democracy? Economic Policymaking: What is the global economy? How does the global economy influence U.S. policy generally and you specifically? Due this Week: Edwards, Chapters 14,15,17 Week Thirteen Spring Break Week Fourteen The Federal Courts: Judiciary: How is public policy made? Does the system work as intended? Does the system: work for citizens today? What role do the courts play in interpreting the Constitution and implementing public policy? Are the courts guilty, as some critics charge, of supplanting the legislative and executive branches by legislating from the bench? What is the proper role for the judicial branch in the public policy process? What is evolving relationship between the courts and civil rights? Due this Week: Edwards, Chapter 16 Woll, Chapter 9: All Week Fifteen Case Studies in Public Policy: Who sets policy agendas for our nation? How does federalism affect public policy? We will examine and debate several areas of public policy. Potential topics include: 1. Social Welfare Policy: What are subsidies and entitlements? What is the proper role for government in social issues such as poverty, social security and welfare. 2. Health Care and the Environment: What is the proper role for government in health care, the environment and energy? 3. U.S. Foreign Policy: What role should the United States play in the world? What is, and what should be, our relationship with the United Nations? Due this Week: Edwards, Chapters 18,19,20 Week Sixteen Review for AP U.S. Government & Politics Exam and in-class final exam. Saturday AP Help Session (breakfast provided) for those taking the test on Monday. Weeks Seventeen and Eighteen

7 Those not taking the AP Exam on Monday will be completing their Semester Final Exam in class. The rest of the semester will be spent with an in-depth study of local and state government and the importance of students participating in the political process. Week Nineteen Senior activities related to GRADUATION!!!

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