Ap united States Government and Politics

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AP United States Government and Politics

Mr. Silva

Manteca High School

Class Website: www.mrsilva03.weebly.com

Course Description
AP Government is a one semester course designed to challenge students to have a comprehensive understanding of the workings of American Government; its intricacies and nuances. Students will examine the influences that helped shaped our political heritage as well as the critical political philosophies that dominate modern-day politics. The express purpose of this course is to prepare students to take the AP Exam for U.S. Government and Politics. The course for all its intents and purposes is taught on college level and it requires a substantial amount of reading and preparation for every class. 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 Objectives

Students successfully completing this course will:

  • elaborate on important facts, concepts, and theories pertaining to U.S. government and politics

  • understand typical patterns of political processes and behavior and their consequences (including the components of political behavior, the principles used to explain or justify various government structures and procedures, and the political effects of these structures and procedures)

  • demonstrate an ability to analyze and interpret data relevant to U.S. government and politics

Course Readings
There are three required texts for this course:
Berry, Jeffrey M., Goldman, Jerry, and Janda, Kenneth. The Challenge of Democracy 9th Ed.
New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2007.
We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution, U.S. Department of Education: Center for
Civic Education, 2009.
Ladd, Everett C. and Serow, Ann G. The Lanahan Readings in the American Polity 2nd Ed.
Baltimore, MD: Lanahan Publishers, 2000.
Various course packets containing primary source documents, book excerpts, magazine excerpts and current events will also supplement our course readings.
AP U.S. government and politics will be organized thematically beginning with Constitutional Underpinning of the United States Government. Students are required to keep up with course readings for various in class activities. Class will comprise of various learning modalities including but not limited to Socratic seminars, debate, lecture and various pair/group assignments. Periodically, student essays, reports, or presentations will be required.
Class Requirements
Students will create and maintain an AP notebook. The notebook will contain the following sections: lecture notes, position papers/identifications, weekly reading questions and terms.
Students will maintain a reading journal of their assigned readings. This journal will comprise of chapter reaction papers, unit readings from We the People, and the Lanahan class reader that must be typed using Chicago Style Citation. The journal will be turned in at the request of the instructor and returned to the students. The reading journal will make up 30% of the final course grade.
Tests will be a combination of identifications, multiple choice and AP formatted essays. There will be a minimum of six examinations during the term—including a mid-term. Quizzes will be given after every Challenge assigned reading. Quizzes, the mid-term and final will make up 40% of the final course grade.
Students will also submit written responses/evaluations of primary and secondary sources including, but not limited to book and article reviews. These analytic writing assignments will make up 30% of the final course grade.
Students in Advanced Placement classes are expected to attend class regularly, on time, with their materials and ready to work. All students are encouraged to express their opinions and thoughts on any topic under discussion. All students and the teacher will be treated with dignity and respect. Disagreement is expected and encouraged, as long as that disagreement is conducted in an atmosphere of mutual respect.
Late assignments will not be accepted. All examinations and quizzes must be taken on the announced date unless special arrangements are made in advance.
All students enrolled in AP U.S. Government and Politics are required to take the Advanced Placement examination. The AP test will be administered in May 2012. All students not taking the AP exam are required to take a modified exam in class with the instructor.
Current Events
Students are responsible for keeping up with the daily events in the nation and the world. Students will need to skim the front page of the New York Times, Washington Post or Washington Times, listen to news programs, watch political pundits from CNN, Fox or access a reliable online source. Subscribing to political podcasts is also a good way to keep up with current events. Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball is an excellent source for keeping up with the political landscape http://www.centerforpolitics.org/crystalball/
Use 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.
Review Sessions
Review sessions, study sessions seminars, and movie nights conducted outside class time are for your benefit, and you are not required to attend. Specific topics, times, and dates will be announced well in advance of the event. No new test material will be introduced during the review sessions.
Grading Policies
Grades will be calculated on a 4.0 scale, using the requirements outlined above. Written work will be evaluated on the clarity of the thesis, quality of the supporting details, and strength of the analytic arguments presented, using the correlating AP rubric if applicable.
Students and their parents are welcomed and encouraged to consult with me whenever they have questions or concerns.
Reading Assignments and Course Calendar
Week One

Dilemmas of Democracy weekly reading questions: What is the purpose of government? Explain why the United States might oppose an International Criminal Court. Explain why crime rates rose in communist countries after they abandoned communism. Explain why conservatives might favor more government than liberals. Explain why theorists disagree whether political rights include basic human needs. Explain why countries on the road to democratization often revert back to authoritarianism. Is the pluralist model truly an adequate expression of democracy, or is it a perversion of classical ideals, designed to portray America as democratic when it is not? Does the majoritarian model result in a “better” type of government? If so, could new mechanisms of government be devised to produce a desirable mix of majority rule and minority rights?

Socratic Seminar Topics: Discuss page 49-50 questions. Discuss the paradoxes of freedom, order, and equality. Discuss the two dilemmas of government: freedom versus order and freedom versus equality. Know the divergent ideologies and scope of government systems. Be able to differentiate between the concepts of majoritarian versus pluralist democracy and procedural democracy versus substantive democracy. Review and discuss the theory of democratic government and introduce the elitist theory versus the pluralistic theory.

Define: national sovereignty, liberalism, public goods, freedom of, freedom from, political equality, equality of opportunity, equality of outcome, rights, political ideology, capitalism, libertarianism, laissez faire, conservatives, communitarians, autocracy, oligarchy, democracy, procedural democratic theory, substantive democratic theory, responsiveness, minority rights, majoritarian model of democracy, interest group, pluralist model of democracy, elite theory, and democratization.


Janda, Berry, and Goldman Chapters 1 and 2

Weekly blog topic: Is the assassination of a dictator ever justified?

Excerpt from: Zakaria, Fareed. The Future of Freedom. New York: Norton, 2003. Zakaria says that democratization in countries trying to make the transition from autocratic rule often goes too far, too fast, and may catalyze movements that threaten freedom.

Week Two

Foundations of American Government: Explore the revolutionary roots of the constitution. How does the constitution underpin U.S. government? The concept of “checks and balances” was a novel idea in the 18th century. Why? How does Madison’s concept of checks and balances challenge popular understanding of Montesquieu’s theory of separation of powers? What does Watergate say about our constitutional system? Explain why the Articles of Confederation made the states strong and the nation weak. Explain why having many factions reduces the danger of factions. Explain why some of the nation’s founders thought that adding a bill of rights to the Constitution might actually limit individual rights. Describe the two methods of amending the Constitution. Is the Constitution a liberal or conservative document?

In class activity: Simulate the Constitutional Convention

Define: social contract theory, natural rights theory, classical republicanism, civic virtue, common good, factions, republic, confederation, democracy, separation of powers, checks and balances, enumerated powers, implied powers, judicial review, necessary and proper clause, and supremacy clause.


Janda, Berry, and Goldman Chapter 3

Weekly blog topic: “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”—Thomas Jefferson, Agree, disagree, or qualify this using our AP Blog

We the People Unit One

“Magna Carta Articles 39, 40”

“Mayflower Compact”

“Virginia Declaration of Rights”

“Second Treatise on Government” John Locke

“Declaration of Independence” (pp. A-1, 2)

“The Federalist Papers 10, 51, 78” (p. A-15-20)

“Articles of Confederation” (pp. A-2-6)

“The Constitution of the United States of America” (pp. A-6-15)

Excerpt from: Zinn, Howard. Declaration of Independence: Cross-Examining American Ideology. New York: Harper and Row, 1990. A famous radical scholar challenges mainstream American political and economic thought, urging readers to declare independence from “all rigid domains” that serve to undermine democracy.

Week Three

Federalism: Referring back to the questions from the last unit, 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? Explain why the Tenth Amendment and the necessary and proper clause of Article I might contradict one another. Explain why you have to be 21 to drink in all fifty states, even though Congress has never passed a law declaring a national drinking age. Explain why Americans generally believe that government should be close to the people, yet so few citizens vote in local elections. How does Iraqi-style federalism differ from our style?

Socratic Seminar Topics: Students will discuss the following issues in a controlled and respectful environment: capital punishment, allowing guns on college/high school campuses, immigration law, and the Patriot Act.

Define: sovereignty, federalism, dual federalism, states’ rights, cooperative federalism, elastic clause, commerce clause, grant-in-aid, categorical grants, formula grants, project grants, block grants, policy entrepreneurs, preemption, mandate, restraint, redistricting, municipal governments, county governments, school district, special districts, and home rule.


Janda, Berry, and Goldman Chapter 4

We the People Units Two and Three

Weekly blog topic: Research and post current topics involving federalism in the United States.

“Federalist 39”

McCulloch v. Maryland, 1819

Gibbons v. Ogden, 1824

Dred Scott v. Sandford, 1857

U.S. v. Lopez, 1995

Bush v. Gore, 2000

“The Constitution of the United State of America” (pp. A-6-15)

Excerpt from: Conlan, Timothy. From New Federalism to Devolution: Twenty-Five Years of Intergovernmental Reform. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, 1998. Probes attempts to reform American federalism during the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s.
Week Four

Political Socialization and Identity: Understand the social construction of our political beliefs. How do we come to have political beliefs? What are the sources of public opinion? What is “political culture,” and is there a unique American political culture? What is the “political spectrum”? How do these political beliefs define who we are as citizens? What does it mean to be a citizen? What is the role of the citizen in a civil society? Which citizens vote and why? What is the relationship between individual rights and the needs of the larger community? Is democracy in America healthy and viable today? Explain why the “moderate” ideological category may be overstated. Explain why self-interest might not influence public opinion on some issues. Explain why the eligibility for voting in national elections varied greatly by state in early elections. Explain why Americans might be said to vote more than citizens in other countries. Explain why lowering the voting age from 21 to 18 also lowered the national rate of voter turnout.

Socratic Seminar Topic: Political efficacy, is it worth it?

Define: public opinion, skewed distribution, bimodal distribution, normal distribution, stable distribution, political socialization, socioeconomic status, self-interest principle, opinion schema, issue framing,


Janda, Berry, and Goldman Chapters 5 and 7

We the People Unit Six

Weekly blog topic: What socializing agent has had the most affect on you?

Excerpt from: Page, Benjamin I., and Robert Y. Shapiro. The Rational Public. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992. Using hundreds of opinion surveys from 1935 to 1990, the authors explore public opinion trends for a variety of social, economic, and foreign policy issues. They argue that the collective policy preferences of the American public are rational and coherent.
Week Five

The Media: Analyze how the media influences voters. What role does 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? Explain why the traditional role for gate-keepers has declined in the media. Explain why newspaper reporters and their editors may balance out ideological bias in the news.

Socratic Seminar Topics: Discussion of current presidential candidates in the media.

Define: mass media, attentive policy elites, two-step flow of communication, newsworthiness, market-driven journalism, infotainment, Federal Communication Commission (FCC), gatekeepers, horse race journalism, media event, television hypothesis, and political agenda.


Janda, Berry, and Goldman Chapter 6

Weekly blog topic: Is there a “Fox effect” in television news reporting?, What’s “news” to the nation’s largest newspapers?

New York Times v. Sullivan

Musical lyrics by Eminem

Musical lyrics by Sugar Hill Gang

Excerpt from: Edwards, Lee. MEDIAPOLITIK: How the Mass Media Have Transformed World Politics. Washington, D.C.: Catholic University Press, 2001. Examines the interrelationship between the mass media and world politics using three models: liberal democratic, authoritarian, and totalitarian.

Weeks Six and Seven

Mass Movement Politics: Political Parties, Nominations, Elections, and Campaigns, Interest Groups: Examine the evolution of politic parties and their apparatus in today’s politics. What is the difference between a Democrat and a Republican? Are there other options beyond these two choices? Is this the best system to develop and select leaders? Are citizens well served by the current process? 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? Political parties and interest groups are not mentioned in the constitution yet they play a critical role. How? Why? Do they serve our democracy or are they an obstacle? How do interest groups influence government decisions and policy making?

Socratic Seminar Topic: Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission

Define: terrorism, political participation, conventional participation, unconventional participation, direct action, supportive behavior, influencing behavior, class action suit, suffrage, franchise, progressivism, direct primary, recall, referendum, initiative, standard socioeconomic model, political party, nomination, political system, electoral college, caucus, national convention, party platform, critical election, electoral realignment, two-party system, electoral dealignment, majority representation, proportional representation, party identification, national committee, party conference, congressional campaign committee, party machine, responsible party government, election campaign, primary election, closed primary, open primary, modified closed primary, modified open primary, presidential primary, caucus/convention, front-loading, general election, straight ticket, split ticket, first-past-the-post elections, open election, Federal Election Commission (FEC), hard money, Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act (BCRA), soft money, 527 committees, interest groups, lobbyist, agenda building, program monitoring, interest group entrepreneur, free-rider problem, trade association, political action committee, direct lobbying, grassroots lobbying, information campaign, coalition building, membership bias, and citizen group.


Janda, Berry, and Goldman Chapters 8, 9, and 10

Weekly blog topic: What will it take for the U.S. to escape the iron grip hold of the two-party system?

Excerpts from: Aldrich, John H. Why Parties? The Origin and Transformation of Political Parties in America. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995. An original analysis of the formation of political parties that intertwines the ambitions of politicians, the problems of collective action, and the dilemmas in social choice.

Week Eight

Public Policy and the Institutions of National Governance: Congress: Define the roles of 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 the Senate. How has Congress’s role in policy formulation changed over time in relation to the other branches? Explain why Americans say they hate the Congress but keep reelecting their own representative. Explain why there is so much “wheeling and dealing” in the Congress. Explain why “pork” gets into the budget.

Socratic Seminar Topics: Discuss current bills and legislation.

Define: reapportionment, impeachment, incumbent, gerrymandering, casework, descriptive representation, racial gerrymandering, veto, pocket veto, standing committee, joint committee, select committee, conference committee, seniority, oversight, Speaker of the House, majority leader, filibuster, cloture, constituents, trustee, delegate, parliamentary system, and discharge petition.


Janda, Berry, and Goldman Chapter 11

Weekly blog topic: Download and complete the Power Ladder assignment under the weekly blog.

“The Constitution of the United States of America”

View Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
Week Nine

Public Policy and the Institutions of National Governance: Presidency and The Bureaucracy: Define the roles of the president and how they have changed over time. 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 vis-à-vis the legislative and judicial branches? What are the specific issues addressed in public policy making? Define an “Iron Triangle,” does it exist and if so how does it influence policy implementation? Who controls the bureaucracy: The president? Congress? The people? Does a largely permanent professional bureaucracy serve democracy?

Socratic Seminar Topic: Paradoxes of the Presidency

Define: inherent powers, executive orders, delegation of powers, Executive Office of the President, cabinet, divided government, gridlock, mandate, legislative liaison staff, bureaucracy, bureaucrat, department, independent agency, regulatory commission, government corporation, civil service, administrative discretion, rule making, regulations, incrementalism, norms, implementation, regulation, deregulation, competition and outsourcing, total quality management (TQM), and Government Performance and Results Act.


Janda, Berry, and Goldman Chapters 12 and 13

Weekly blog topic: “No man will ever bring out of office the reputation which carries him into it.”—Thomas Jefferson, Agree, disagree, or qualify this statement

Race to the White House 2012 Project

“The Constitution of the United States of America”

Excerpt from: Neustadt, Richard E. Presidential Power, rev. ed. New York: Free Press, 1990. Neustadt’s classic work examining the president’s power to persuade.
Week Ten

Public Policy and the Instruments of National Governance: Judiciary: Examine the roles of the Judiciary. Define the roles of Congress. 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 evolving relationship between the courts and “civil rights”? Explain why the number of state court cases continues to rise. Explain why the U.S. Supreme Court may be powerless to review certain decisions made by state supreme courts.

Socratic Seminar Topics: Selective incorporation and the Bill of Rights, The Right to Die

Define: judicial review, criminal case, civil case, plea bargain, common (judge-made) law, U.S. district court, U.S. court of appeals, precedent, stare decisis, original jurisdiction, appellate jurisdiction, federal question, docket, rule of four, solicitor general, amicus curiae brief, judicial restraint, judicial activism, judgment, argument, concurrence, dissent, senatorial courtesy, and class action.


Janda, Berry, and Goldman Chapter 14

Weekly blog topic: Should federal judges be elected to their positions?

Simulate Historic Supreme Court Cases

Marbury v. Madison, 1803

Plessy v. Ferguson, 1896

Schenck v. United States, 1919

Gitlow v. New York, 1925

Korematsu v. United States, 1944

Brown v. Board of Education, 1954

Gideon v. Wainwright, 1963

Miranda v. Arizona, 1966

Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, 1978

Snyder v. Phelps, 2011

“The Constitution of the United States of America” (pp. A-6-15)

We the People Unit Three Lesson 21, Unit Four Lesson 28, and Unit Five Lesson 34

Excerpt from: Toobin, Jeffrey. The Nine: Inside The Secret World of the Supreme Court. New York: Doubleday, 2007. A fascinating look at some of the Supreme Courts power brokers.

Week Eleven

Civil Liberties and Civil Rights: Demonstrate an understanding of freedom, order, and equality on how the apply to civil liberties and civil rights in the United States. What constitutes free speech? How does the national Bill of Rights apply to states? Do the courts “legislate from the bench? What forms of speech are protected? How is the First Amendment affected in times of crisis? What constitutes “establishment”? What are the limits of “free exercise”? What is “equal protection under the law? How does the national Bill of Rights apply to states? What is procedural due process? Is there a right to privacy? What do property rights mean in relation to community interests? 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?

Socratic Seminar Topic: Will discrimination ever end?

Define: civil liberties, civil rights, establishment clause, free-exercise clause, strict scrutiny, prior restraint, free-expression clauses, clear and present danger test, fighting words, public figures, bill of attainder, ex post facto law, obligation of contracts, Miranda warnings, exclusionary rule, good faith exception, equality of opportunity, equality of outcome, invidious discrimination, black codes, racism, poll tax, racial segregation, separate-but-equal doctrine, desegregation, de jure segregation, de facto segregation, civil rights movement, boycott, civil disobedience, protectionism, Nineteenth Amendment, sexism, equal rights amendment (ERA), and affirmative action.


Janda, Berry, and Goldman Chapters 15 and 16

Weekly blog topic: Should burning the American flag be illegal?

We the People Unit Four Lessons 24, 25, 26 and 27, and Unit Five (all)

“Letter from Birmingham Jail” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Engle v. Vitale, 1962

Zelman v. Simmons-Harris, 2002

Gideon v. Wainwright, 1963

Plessy v. Ferguson, 1896

Brown v. Board of Education, 1954

Roe v. Wade, 1973
Week Twelve

Policymaking: Who sets policy agendas for our nation? How does federalism affect public policy? Explain why the end of policy making process is also the beginning. Explain why government programs aren’t always administered by the government. Students will create a new public policy agenda.

Socratic Seminar Topic: File sharing legal or illegal?

Define: public policy, distributive policies, redistributional policies, regulation, agenda setting, issue definition, policy formation, implementation, policy evaluation, feedback, fragmentation, issue network, and nonprofits.


Janda, Berry, and Goldman Chapter 17

Weekly blog topic: Should FEMA be abolished?
Week Thirteen

Economic Policy: How is the federal budget made? How is monetary policy different from fiscal policy? What is the “global economy”? How does the global economy influence U.S. policy generally and you specifically? Explain why the president is not directly responsible for the nation’s interest rates. Explain why lower-income people pay a higher percentage of their income taxes than higher-income people.

Socratic Seminar Topic: Reaganomics vs. Keynesian Economics, are they still relevant?

Define: economic depression, inflation, business cycles, aggregate demand, productive capacity, gross domestic product (GDP), Keynesian theory, fiscal policies, monetary policies, deficit spending, Council of Economic Advisers (CEA), monetarists, Federal Reserve System, supply-side economics, fiscal year, budget authority, budget outlays, receipts, national debt, Office of Management and Budget (OMB), tax committees, authorization committees, appropriations committees, budget committees, Congressional Budget Office (CBO), Gramm-Rudman, Budget Enforcement Act (BEA), mandatory spending, discretionary spending, entitlements, pay-as-you-go, Balanced Budget Act (BBA), progressive taxation, incremental budgeting, uncontrollable outlay, and transfer payment.


Janda, Berry, and Goldman Chapter 18

Weekly blog topic: Do you favor tax cuts for the wealthy or tax cuts for all?

View IOUSA and discuss

Week Fourteen

Domestic Policy: What are subsidies and entitlements? What is the proper role for government in social issues such as education, welfare, and crime? Explain why younger Americans fear they will never get any Social Security benefits, even though they have been paying into the system. Analyze the feminization of poverty graph on page 600.

Socratic Seminar Topic: Is Social Security worth saving?

Define: welfare state, social welfare program, Great Depression, New Deal, Great Society, War on Poverty, social insurance, social security, Social Security Act, entitlements, poverty level, feminization of poverty, Medicare, Medicaid, Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, means-tested benefits, and non-means-tested benefits.


Janda, Berry, and Goldman Chapter 19

Weekly blog topic: Are you for or against entitlement spending?
Week Fifteen

Global Policy: What role should the United States play in the world? What is, and what should be, our relationship with the United Nations? Explain why NAFTA was not framed as an international treaty. Explain why “free trade” is not necessarily “fair trade”? Explain why the United States does not observe the 1992 Biodiversity Treaty, although the president signed it.

Socratic Seminar Topic: Should enhanced interrogation methods (torture) be used to ascertain details of terrorist organizations?

Define: foreign policy, executive agreement, isolationism, Cold War, containment, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, nation building, Nixon Doctrine, détente, peace through strength, enlargement and engagement, preemptive action, global policy, intermestic, free trade, comparative advantage, fair trade, managed trade, and protectionists.


Janda, Berry, and Goldman Chapter 20

Weekly blog topic: Do you support the Bush Doctrine?
Week Sixteen

Review for AP U.S. Government & Politics in-class final exam
Week Seventeen

AP US GoPo Exam

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