AP U S GOVERNMENT & POLITICS
Teacher: John M. Brown, Greenup County High School, 2015-16
ABOUT YOUR TEACHER: Mr. Brown
On a personal note: I am a husband, father, grandfather, minister, farmer, avid reader, writer and a passionate “history” and “politics” buff. Enthusiasm is contagious, and I hope to motivate you in your efforts in this class! I will treat you with dignity and respect, and desire the same in return. I want you to be very successful, and am excited about our great year together!
Welcome to Greenup County High School’s AP U.S. GOVERNMENT & POLITICS, a course designed to introduce students to an advanced study of the institutions, philosophies, influences, and participants of the political system of the United States. We will be studying concepts, accumulating information, carefully analyzing, and learning to engage in critical thinking to understand, explain, and appreciate government’s institutions, principles, outcomes, and roles in our individual and national lives. Remember, this is a college level course – much work will be required, but much reward will be realized!
-Bring a notebook, paper, and writing utensils to every class
-A three ring binder to keep notes, handouts, other class materials
-Diligent effort on the part of each student: by its very nature, this is an intensive course; I am here to help you succeed in it; determine you will work hard, and you will succeed!
-Work missed must be made up within the allowed time (number of days you were absent, plus one
-Late work must be turned in by Friday of the week it is due, and points will be deducted
-Responsibility: I have great expectations, but am sure you will meet and even exceed them
-A positive attitude: we will embark on a study that will make us more responsible adults and citizens
-Textbook, and numerous additional reading and research materials
-BE RESPECTFUL of your teacher, your classmates, yourselves;
-BE PREPARED for each class by doing your work conscientiously;
-BE PROMPT which means being on time and being ready;
-BE ATTENTIVE which means being alert and awake and being in class (go to the restroom between classes, unless some emergency arises);
-BE DILIGENT in your efforts; remember I want you to succeed and will do everything in my power to help you make it happen, not only as students or test-takers, but as human beings.
Grades will be composed of
-Notebook (which will include your notes from discussion, vocabulary, study questions, study guide)
-Homework (which will be necessary for this course; we simply cannot cover everything only in class)
-Quizzes and Exams (scheduled quizzes; “pop” quizzes; end of unit and other exams)
-Projects (including individual and groups projects; research papers; group efforts)
-Participation (including participation in class, participation in groups, bell-ringer work, exit slips)
-Extra credit (when offered and as needed, which can include independent research and study)
The conclusion of each unit will include a unit exam, which will be composed of multiple choice questions, and at least one free response question (for a total of at least six analytical and interpretive free response questions during the course).
Grading Scale: 90-100% (A) 80-89% (B) 70-79% (C) 60-69% (D) 59%-below (F)
From the College Board’s Advanced Placement website (www.collegeboard.com) comes the following information about this course:
A well-designed AP course in United States Government and Politics will give students
an analytical perspective on government and politics in the United States. This course
includes both the study of general concepts used to interpret U.S. government and
politics and the analysis of specific examples. It also requires familiarity with the
various institutions, groups, beliefs, and ideas that constitute U.S. government and
politics. While there is no single approach that an AP United States Government and
Politics course must follow, students should become acquainted with the variety of
theoretical perspectives and explanations for various behaviors and outcomes. Certain
topics are usually covered in all college courses…..
Students successfully completing this course will:
• know 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)
• be able to analyze and interpret basic data relevant to U.S. government and politics (including data presented in charts, tables, and other formats)
• be able to critically analyze relevant theories and concepts, apply them appropriately, and develop their connections across the curriculum.”
-To learn important facts, concepts, and theories related to the government and political system of the United States;
-To understand the political process, behaviors, and consequences;
-To be able to understand, analyze, and interpret basic information related to this subject.
TEXTS & SUPPLEMENTAL READINGS:
Wilson, James Q. and Dilulio, John J. Jr. American Government, 10th edition. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2006.
Barbour, Christine & Streb, Matthew J. Clued In To Politics: A Critical Thinking Reader in American Government. Washington, DC: CQ Press, 2010.
Bose, Meena and Dilulio, John J. Jr. Classic Ideas and Current Issues in American Government. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2007.
Constitution Study Guide. New York: Host, Rinehart, and Wilson, 2006.
Encyclopedia of American History, Edition 2. Facts on File, Incorporated, 2009.
Other supplemental readings and handouts will be given during the course, as well as time spent using resources available via Internet, such as official governmental websites, political party websites, and political analysis and opinion websites.
TEACHING AND LEARNING STRATEGIES
We will utilize lecture, group discussion, individual reading, classroom discussion, individual and group research, as we relate information, analyze subjects, and debate propositions.
Writing well is not only an asset to this course, but to many endeavors in life. We will utilize our skills, seek to build upon and improve them, as we write about concepts, themes, and information related to this course – understanding, evaluating, and analyzing. This will not only aid in the study of the subject, but help prepare for the AP Exam. Sharpen your pencils!
Believing that not only is theoretical information useful, but also practical relativity to everyday life and living as responsible citizens, we shall spend time analyzing current events in U. S. government – and the world at large – from various sources: newspapers, magazine, television, and online news services. We will encourage reading and listening to a divergent variety, such as The New York Times, the Washington Post, MSNBC, NPR, CNN, Fox News, Time, various government and special-interest websites, etc.
Each student is expected to be an active participant, not only demonstrated by acute listening but also vigorous engagement in the subject.
During the course, we will invite numerous persons from our community who can express information about government and politics from various perspectives: newspaper editors and commentators, politicians, government officials, political party representatives, and involved citizens.
Reading from a variety of sources will be encouraged, and expected.
ANALYZING AND INTERPRETING DATA
We will learn to examine, understand, and interpret data relative to U. S. government and politics, including polling data, election results, political maps, and political involvement expectations. We will be using the resources of our textbook and supplemental readings, and information via the internet, to analyze and interpret data. Specifically, we will analyze all the charts, maps, and graphs in the textbook and from other sources relating to each major unit we study. We will particularly note data relative to: voter registration, voter participation, and voter turnout; comparisons between the political culture of the United States and other nations; changes in the sense of political efficacy in the last half-century; “generational gaps” on various political issues; data related to membership in Congress and the power of incumbency; comparisons between how people identify themselves politically and how they actually vote; and the changing demographics of Congress. Further, we will assess students’ abilities to: read and interpret graphs, charts, and political cartoons; note and predict trends in Presidential elections from 1948 to 2008 and into the future; compare political exit polling data in comparison to actual results; and create and interpret their own charts of persons whom they will interview regarding political philosophy, political opinions, and political behavior. Also, we will seek to follow current “political news,” including primary campaigns and primary elections results, analyzing contemporary trends. Each unit will include study of political analysis and data interpretation.
OUR CURRICULUM MAP:
We will cover the following subject units in the following order, both to teach the information required for this course, as well as prepare students to successfully take the AP Exam next May:
UNIT 1 (August):
CONSTITUTIONAL FOUNDATIONS OF UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT
The American Revolution and Colonial Ideas about Government
The Articles of Confederation
The Constitutional Convention
The Bill of Rights
The Principle of Separation of Powers
Powers of National and State Governments
The Evolution of Federalism
The Principles of Federalism
Theory and Principles of Democratic Government
The United States Constitution
UNIT 2 (September):
POLITICAL BELIEFS AND BEHAVIORS
How Americans feel about Government
American Political Socialization
Voting Patterns of Americans
Voters and Non-voters
Culture, Attitudes, Ideology
Politics as a “science”: predicting, polling
Public Opinion Shaping Policy
Campaigns and Elections
UNIT 3 (October):
POLITICAL PARTIES, INTEREST GROUPS, AND MEDIA
Historical Political Parties in the United States
Dominant Political Parties today
Functions, Organization, Structure, Campaigning
Executive and Legislative Parties
State and Local Organizations
Political Actions Committees: Characteristics, Funding, Impact on Public Policy
Political Evolution and Reform
Media: Reporting Politics / Influencing Politics
UNIT 4 (November – December – January – February)
INSTITUTIONS OF GOVERNMENT (Congress; Presidency; Judiciary; Bureaucracy)
LEGISLATIVE BRANCH: CONGRESS
The Institution of Congress
The Constitutional Plan: Organization and Structure
The Practical Working of Congress
Problems and Criticisms
The Powers of Congress
Expressed and Implied
Legislative Powers and Non-legislative Powers
Relationships with Other Branches of Government
The Legislative Process
Bills: Introduced – Inaugurated
Committees: Leadership and Process
Procedures: referrals, debate, amending, reports, filibuster
EXECUTIVE BRANCH: THE PRESIDENCY
Constitutional Provisions: Executive, Military, Diplomatic, Pardon
The Office of the President: Organization and Structure
The White House
Relationships with Other Branches of Government
JUDICIAL BRANCH: THE SUPREME COURT
Constitutional Provisions: Organization and Structure
Judicial Roles and Powers: review, enforcement, action
The Federal Court System: Cases, nominations, management
The struggle: judicial restraint vs. judicial activism, historically and contemporaneously
Landmark cases impacting American political, legal, and cultural life
Relationships with Other Branches of Government
UNIT 5 (March):
The Federal Bureaucracy: structure, power, administration, composition, authorization, oversight
Policy: Influences – how policy is made and executed
Major Policy Types: Economic, Social, Foreign Relations
The Civil Service
Presidential Control through orders, directions, nominations, removals
UNIT 6 (April)
CIVIL RIGHTS AND CIVIL LIBERTIES
The Bill of Rights
Major Court Cases
Life, Liberty, Property
Civil rights Acts / Voting Rights Acts
REVIEW & SPECIAL STUDIES (May)
Charts & Data Analysis: a comparison of the Presidential elections of 1980-2012, with analysis of the election of 2012 and prospects for 2016; a comparison of Congressional elections during the same period, with predictions concerning legislative and executive actions in the coming year.
AP Course Outline Review
Free Response Writing Guide and Practice
Special Studies: critical concepts; student interests