AP U.S. Government and Politics Syllabus

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1 AP U.S. Government and Politics Syllabus Course Description: AP Government and Politics is an introduction course designed to provide students with a thorough understanding of the principles of government and politics in the United States. This course involves both the study of general concepts used to interpret U.S. politics and the analysis of specific case studies. It also requires familiarity with the various institutions, groups, beliefs, and ideas that make up U.S. political reality. The course is taught in one semester, divided into three six-weeks grading periods. Each unit will be taught using but not limited to the following methods: lecture/seminar, key readings, guided discussions, document based research, internet research, debate forums, terminology, court case knowledge and various student-centered and cooperative learning activities. All topics will be taught with the idea of linkages to the other units, showing the interconnections and forming a Big Picture framework. All students will be expected to keep up with their readings and to demonstrate their preparedness by active participation in class discussions. The course will emphasize essay writing skills; approximately every two to three weeks students can expect to write a free-response essay in class. Grades are weighted as 60% for daily activities, quizzes and essays and 40% for tests and major project assignments. Course Objectives: To prepare students for the Advanced Placement Exam To learn and understand important facts, concepts, and theories pertaining to U.S. government and politics To understand typical patterns of political processes and behaviors and their consequences (including the components of political behavior, the principles used to justify various government structures and procedures, and the political effects of these structures and procedures) To be able to analyze and interpret basic data relevant to U.S. government and politics (including maps, charts, graphs, tables, exit poll data, and Supreme Court decisions) Course Outline: Unit 1: Introduction to Government in America Unit 2: Constitutional Underpinnings Unit 3: Civil Liberties & Civil Rights Unit 4: Public Opinion, the Media and the Political Agenda Unit 5: Political Parties & Interest Groups Unit 6: Nominations, Campaigns, Elections & the Voters Unit 7: Institutions of Government- Congress AP Course Audit Syllabus- page 1

2 Unit 8: Institutions of Government-Presidency & the Bureaucracy Unit 9: Institutions of Government-Federal Courts Unit 10: Public Policy Texts and Materials Edwards, George C., Robert L. Lineberry, and Martin P. Wattenberg. Government in America: People, Politics, and Policy. 10th ed. New York: Longman, Supplemental Resources Newspapers: New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, USA Today Ladd, Everett C. and Ann G. Serow, ed. The Lanahan Readings in the American Polity. 4th ed. Baltimore: Lanahan Publishers, Levine, Herbert M., ed. Point-Counterpoint: Readings in American Government. 6th ed. New York, St. Martins Press, 1998 Lasser, William, ed. Perspectives on American Politics. 3rd ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, Cigller, Allan J. and Burdett A. Loomis, ed. American Politics: Classic and Contemporary Readings. 5th ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, The United States Constitution Woll, Peter, ed. American Government: Readings and Cases, 15 th ed. New York: Pearson Longman, Supplements to be distributed to the students throughout the semester Readings Learners will complete various assigned readings to supplement their textbook reading and class work. These readings will be taken from various primary & secondary sources. Timed Writing Assignments Learners will complete at least one timed-writing per unit to demonstrate their ability to answer analytical and interpretive free-response questions. These prompts will be derived from former AP exams, or teacher-generated. Exams listed under each unit are possible choices for those timed-writings. Using Graphs, Maps, and Charts Instruction will include practice of analysis and interpretation of data in quantitative and visually presented information. Each exam will also include practice of analysis and interpretation of data political cartoons, maps, charts and graphical analysis of data. Free Response essays will include examples from previous AP exams, including graphs, maps, charts and political cartoons which learners must demonstrate the ability to analyze and interpret. AP Course Audit Syllabus- page 2

3 Unit One: Introduction to Government in America (1 week) Government, Politics and Public Policy Political Models- Lasswell and Schattschneider The Political System Classifying Governments Theories of Democratic Government Edwards: Chapter 1 Activity: Pre-Test: The 1965 Alabama Literacy Test Lasswell Model Activity Activity: The FRQ (analysis of FRQ and how to approach writing a FRQ) Unit 1 Exam- 30 M/C and 1 Essay Unit Two: Constitutional Underpinnings (2 weeks) Origins of the Constitution/Declaration of Independence Articles of Confederation: Government that Failed/Philadelphia Convention Writing the Constitution: Considerations that Influenced the Formulation and Adoption of the Constitution Ratification Debates: Federalists versus Anti-Federalists The Constitution: Preamble, Articles and Amendments Basic Principles of the Constitution: Popular Sovereignty, Limited Government, Separation of Powers, Checks and Balances, Federalism Edwards: Chapters 2 & 3 Readings: Locke: Second Treatise of Civil Government ; Declaration of Independence; Articles of Confederation (excerpts); George Mason s Objections to the Constitution (excerpts); Federalist Papers 10 and 51; U.S. Constitution; Marbury v. Madison (1803); McCulloch v. Maryland (1819); Gibbons v. Ogden (1824) Unit 2 Exam- 60 M/C Unit 2 Timed Writing (#1); 2001 (#1); 2003Graphic (#3); 2005 (#2); 2007 (#4) Unit Three: Civil Liberties and Civil Rights (2 weeks) Incorporation Doctrine and the Bill of Rights: Impact of the Fourteenth Amendment on the Constitutional Development of Rights and Liberties Development of Civil Liberties and Civil Rights by Judicial Interpretation Case studies: Knowledge of Substantive Rights and Liberties- freedom of speech, assembly, and expression; rights of the accused; and rights of minorities and women Edwards: Chapters 4 & 5 Presentations: Students will present to class various Supreme Court decisions, citing the background, issue/question, decision/reasoning, and significance of each case assigned Readings: Supreme Court cases/excerpts; Woll, Chapter 3: Engel v. Vitale & Plessey v. Ferguson; Texas v. Johnson (1989) Handout Unit 3 Exam- 60 M/C Unit 3 Timed Writing (#3); 2005 (#3); 2007 (#2) AP Course Audit Syllabus- page 3

4 Unit Four: Public Opinion, the Media and the Political Agenda (1.5 weeks) Political Socialization: Process by Which Citizens Learn about Politics Public Opinion: Beliefs that Citizens Hold about their Government and its Leaders Nature, Sources and Consequences of Public Opinion Political Ideology The Mass Media: Structure and Functions Role of the Media/Impact of the Media on Politics Edwards: Chapters 6 & 7 Readings: Key: Public Opinion and American Democracy ; Cook: Media Power and Congressional Power; Woll, Chapter. 4 Voting Behavior: Democratic and Democratic Theory Unit 4 Exam- 60 M/C Unit 4 Timed Writing- Teacher developed FRQ Unit Five: Political Parties and Interest Groups (2 weeks) American Political Parties: Nature, Functions and Organization Political Parties and Ideology Historical Development of Political Parties Political Parties Today: Effects on the Political Process/Electoral Laws and Systems Interest Groups: Nature, Functions and Range of Interests Represented Interest Group Politics: Activities of Interest Groups Effects of Interest Groups on the Political Process PACS: Characteristics and Roles in the Political Process Edwards: Chapters 8 & 11 Readings: Truman: The Governmental Process ; Key: A Theory of Critical Elections ; Ginsberg: Politics By Other Means; Woll: Divided We Govern Unit 5 Exam- 60 M/C Unit 5 Timed Writing-1999 (#2); 2001 (#4); 2004 (#2); 2004Graphic (#3); 2006 (#1) Unit Six: Nominations, Campaigns, Elections and the Voters (1.5 weeks) Nominations and Campaigns Elections The Electoral College: A Special Type of Election Campaign Finance Political Participation Voting and Voter Behaviors: Legal Restrictions on Voting Voting and Voter Behaviors: Socioeconomic and Demographic Factors Voting and Voter Behaviors: Voting and Non-Voting in National, State and Local Elections Edwards: Chapters 9 & 10 Readings: V. O. Key: The Responsible Electorate ; Buckley v. Valeo Unit 6 Exam- 60 M/C Unit 6 Timed Writing-1999 (#1); 2000Graphic (#3); 2000 (#4); 2002 (#4); 2003 (#2); 2005 (4); 2007 (#1) AP Course Audit Syllabus- page 4

5 Unit Seven: Institutions of Government- Congress (2 weeks) Congress: Structure and Organization Getting Elected to Congress The Legislative Process: How a Bill Becomes a Law Powers of Congress Role of Congress in Budget Process Edwards: Chapter 12 Readings: Fiorina: The Rise of the Washington Establishment ; Fenno: If How Come We Love Out Congressmen Major Legislation Research Project: This unit consists of group presentations on a major piece of legislation passed by Congress. This will include an written and oral presentation of the assigned legislation Activity: Youth Leadership Initiative E-Congress (Internet Congress) Activity: Redistricting State Map Unit 7 Exam- 60 M/C Unit 7 Timed Writing-1999 (#3); 2001Graphic (#2); 2003 (#4); 2006 (#4) Unit Eight: Institutions of Government- Presidency and the Bureaucracy (2 weeks) Power and the Presidents The Executive Establishment The Public Presidency Politics of Shared Power: Congress and the President Federal Bureaucracy: Structure and Organization Federal Bureaucracy: Policy Making and Implementation Edwards: Chapters 13 & 15 Readings: Neustadt: Presidential Power ; Jones: The Presidency in a Separated System ; Woll: Constitutional Democracy and Bureaucratic Power Unit 8 Exam- 60 M/C Unit 8 Timed Writing (#1); 2003 (#1); 2004 (#1); 2006 (#3); 2007 (#3) Unit Nine: Institutions of Government- Federal Courts (2 weeks) Court Structure and Jurisdiction Politics of Judicial Selection Background of Judges and Justices Development of Court s Role in Government Relationship of Court to Congress and President Courts as Policymakers: Judicial Decision Making Power of the Courts/Activism v. Restraint/ Implementation of Court Decisions Edwards: Chapter 16 Readings: Federalist #78; Brennan: How the Supreme Court Arrives at a Decision Unit 9 Exam- 60 M/C Unit 9 Timed Writing (#2); 2005 (#1) AP Course Audit Syllabus- page 5

6 Unit Ten: Public Policy (2 weeks) Public Policy Making in a Federal System Formation of Policy Agendas Stages in Policymaking Process Types of Public Policy Politics and the Policy Process Major Readings/Assignments/Assessments Edwards: Chapters Unit 10 Public Policy Project: This unit consists of group presentations on several areas of public policy: o Economic Policy o Social Welfare Policy o Health Care Policy o Environmental Policy o Education Policy o Foreign and Defense Policy Group presentations include a written and oral presentation of the assigned policy area. Presentations must include: o Background information o Major actors in this policy area (Executive & Legislative) o Major policy initiatives o Interest Group Influences o Current issues in the policy area Unit 10 Timed Writing- 1999Graphic (#4); 2002Graphic (#2); 2006Graphic (#2) AP Course Audit Syllabus- page 6

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