AP Government

Course Intro:

This course is designed to give an in-depth introduction to students of the workings of American government. The structure of this course is designed to prepare students to take the AP U.S. Government and Politics test. However, the primary purpose of this course is to prepare students to be active participants in our democratic system of government. Additionally, emphasis will be placed on the promotion of the responsibilities of civic duty and political participation. Students will become familiar with their rights as U.S. citizens and their responsibilities in preserving those rights. This course is a graduation requirement and failure to pass will result in a failure to graduate on schedule.

Textbook:

Wilson, James Q., and John J. Dilulio. American Government Institutions And Policies. 9th ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004.

Textbook Resources

Course Objectives:

  • Students will be able to demonstrate knowledge of important facts, concepts and theories pertaining to U.S. government and politics.
  • Students will be able to identify typical patterns of political processes and behavior that explain the development and implementation of the U.S. political structures and procedures.
  • Students will demonstrate an understanding of the institutions, processes, and influences that make up our political institutions.
  • Students will be able to analyze and interpret basic data relevant to U.S. government and politics.

Mandated Educational Standards

Click on a link below to open up each set of standards in PDF format.

 

Course Overview:

Unit 1 Constitutional Underpinnings of U.S. Government

  • Considerations that influenced the formulation and adoption of the Constitution
  • Separation of powers
  • Federalism
  • Theories of democratic government
  • Text Readings: American Government, Wilson & Dilulio:
    • Chapter 1, "The Study of American Government"
    • Chapter 2, "The Constitution"
    • Chapter 3, "Federalism"

Unit 2 Political Culture

  • 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 mass media
    • The functions and structures of the media
    • The impacts of media on politics
  • Text Readings: American Government, Wilson & Dilulio:
    • Chapter 4, "American Political Culture"
    • Chapter 5, "Public Opinion"
    • Chapter 6, "Political Participation"
    • Chapter 10, "The Media"

Unit 3 Political Participation

  • Political parties and elections
    • Functions
    • Organization
    • Development
    • Effects on the political process
    • Electoral laws and systems
  • Interest groups, including political action committees (PACs)
    • The range of interests represented
    • The activities of interest groups
    • The effects of interest groups on the political process
    • The unique characteristics and roles of PACs in the political process
  • Text Readings: American Government, Wilson and Dilulio:
    • Chapter 7, "Political Parties"
    • Chapter 8, "Elections and Campaigns"
    • Chapter 9, "Interest Groups" 

Unit 4 Institutions of American Democracy

  • The major formal and informal institutional arrangements of power
  • Relationships among these four institutions, and varying balances of power
  • Linkages between institutions and the following: public opinion and voters, interest groups, political parties, the media, and subnational governments
  • Policy making in a federal system
  • The formation of policy agendas
    • The role of institutions in the enactment of policy
    • The role of the bureaucracy and the courts in policy implementation and interpretation
    • Linkages between policy processes and the following: Political institutions and federalism, political parties, interest groups, public opinion, elections, policy networks
  • Text Readings: American Government, Wilson and Dilulio:
    • Chapter 11, "Congress"
    • Chapter 12, "The Presidency"
    • Chapter 13, "The Bureaucracy"
    • Chapter 14, "The Judiciary"

Unit 5 Civil Rights and Civil Liberties

  • The development of civil liberties and civil rights by judicial interpretation
  • Knowledge of substantive rights and liberties
  • The impact of the Fourteenth Amendment on the constitutional development of rights and liberties
  • Text Readings: American Government, Wilson and Dilulio:
    • Chapter 18, "Civil Liberties"
    • Chapter 19, "Civil Rights" 

Grading: 

Grading will be based upon an objective point system using a running total as assignments are added to calculate the grade. The percentage of points earned based upon the total points possible will determine the letter grade. The semester grade is a running total of the grade from both quarters. Percentages are already rounded up to the next grade, so what is indicated on the progress report is the final grade. I do not give grades. You earn them. Grades are posted to the Home Access Center.

Category Breakdown 

Tests 30 %
FRQs 20%
Participation/Classwork/Homework: 30 %
Public Policy Research Paper   10 %
U.S. Constitution   10%       

 

Grading Scale

A= 100-90%

B=  89-80%

C=  79-70%

D=  69-60%

F=   59% and below

 

Extra Credit:

I allow an opportunity for students to earn a maximum of 50 points of extra credit. To be eligible for this they must first complete any missing assignments for which they will receive no credit. The students then must fill out an extra credit work submission form and submit it to me for approval prior to beginning the project. I will assign it a possible point value based upon its level of difficulty. It is the responsibility of the student to decide upon a project, the more challenging the project, the more credit they can receive. Projects must be received two weeks prior to the end of the next grading period.

Tests 

Each unit test will consist of 30 multiple choice questions with a 25 minute time limit. The AP test includes multiple choice questions and is counted as 60% of the test.

FRQs 

FRQ’s are short free response questions that usually ask for an analysis of some given information. They are counted as 40% of the AP test and can include multiple questions within a given topic. Each of my unit tests will include an FRQ with a 25 minute time limit.

Participation/Classwork/Homework:

  1. Make 20 posts on the online forum per quarter for a total of 40 for the semester. Posts must either be links to relevant news articles with analysis or responses to the analysis of other students.
  2. Demonstrate informed participation in at least two of the in-class textbook discussion panels.
  3. Turn in sufficiently in-depth outline notes in MLA format for each of the assigned chapters that are due the day of each discussion panel.
  4. Active participation during in-class discussions.

Public Policy Research Paper: 

The objective of this paper is to give you an in-depth understanding of one of the major public policy issues facing our community today. You will be given the opportunity to select an issue from either the ones that are covered in class or one of your own choosing, based upon the following categories: federal foreign policy, federal domestic policy, state policies, or local policies. You will then research this issue from the perspective of a staff person working for an elected politician who is presenting information to their boss. You must choose a current politician at whichever level of policy you select; i.e, Senator Barbara Boxer of California for Federal Domestic or Foreign Policy. This is not an opinion piece, but a thorough analysis of the issue at hand with an exploration of the pros and cons of the options available. Additional details are available on my website.

Constitution Outline

You will be memorizing an outline of the constitution with periodic quizzes used to promote a gradual approach to memorization. Not only will you be able to do well on the AP test, but you can win a lot of arguments about the U.S. Constitution when you can actually cite it correctly. The quizzes and study guides may be downloaded from my website.

 

Classroom Requirements:

These materials will be required for participation in this course and the student must have them by the end of the first week of class. They will then be required to bring them to class every day.

  • Textbook
  • 1 three-ring binder with paper (no spiral notebooks)
  • Pencils and pens (standard blue or black ink only)
  • Sense of humor
  • Ability to discuss topics in a civil and open minded way *

*Agreeing with what you think I believe in gets you no brownie points, but articulating a well-reasoned argument from any political perspective based upon factual evidence does!

 

Late Assignments: 

Late assignments will NOT be accepted, unless due to absence. If you miss an assignment due to absence, you  will have the time allowed for the assignment starting from the day they receive it, after that it will not be accepted. It is your responsibility to get the work missed on the next day of attendance. Make up work at the end of the grading period for missed assignments will not be allowed.

 

Cheating and Plagiarism:

Plagiarism is defined as the use of someone else’s ideas or work without following fair use guidelines, proper citations, or obtaining permission. Plagiarism is a crime and any student caught plagiarizing material for any class project will receive an automatic F for the project. Repeat offenders will be referred to the administration for expulsion proceedings. You think I am tough? Wait until you have to face a lawyer in court over patent and copyright infringement!

 

Behavior Standards: 

  1. Be respectful to everyone.
  2. No swearing or put downs
  3. Non academic electronic devices are forbidden during class time. I see it I take it.
  4. No grooming is allowed.
  5. The teacher’s desk is off limits.
  6. The teacher, not the bell, will dismiss students at the end of class.
  7. No one leaves until the classroom is clean and orderly.
  8. No food, drink, or gum allowed in class. (Except water)
  9. No hats, bandanas, etc. are to be worn in class.
  10.  You make a mess, you clean it up.