• Week 2: A Struggle for Democracy

    Posted by Selina Jarvis at 8/30/2015 6:00:00 PM
    This week presents an opportunity to explore the founding of our nation and its struggle for representation in government. Had Britain simply allowed the colonies to have seats in Parliament or a little autonomy in what to tax or how to generate revenue, we may still be flying the Union Jack over our land. Our grievances grew as Britain cracked down on our ability to govern ourselves. Newspapers and town meetings helped spread the word from colony to colony about the egregious actions of oppression by the British. The "Redcoats" patrolled our streets and intimidated our citizentry. Now, fast forward to 2015 and you can imagine how the Burnmese citizens of Myanmar feel. Promised great autonomy when the military restructured the Constitution in 2010, these citizens are feeling betrayed as their Nobel-winning hero has to play political games and make strange alliances. Imagine if George Washington had appointed a Tori as Secretary of War! Hopefully you will see some parallels in their plight to our plight back in founding period. Here is what I would like you to do this week:
    1. Read the article below. What similarities and differences do you see between the Burmese citizens and the American colonies?
    2. What should the Burmese people fear most: if Aung San Suu Kyi does not win a majority and the miltary retains power or if she does wins a majority and must work with the military? Explain.
    3. How do you think this situation can or will impact the US? 
    The last day to post a comment for full credit is 11:59 p.m. on Friday, September 4th.
    Comments (1)
  • Week 1: Power in America

    Posted by Selina Jarvis at 8/23/2015 6:00:00 PM
    Welcome back for your senior year! I will post a blog each Sunday on a topic related to our weekly readings, discussions and course objectives.  It will be YOUR responsibility to comment on the article each week BEFORE Friday at midnight.  Each comment will be at least 10 points.  Comments posted after Friday at midnight but before Sunday at 6:00 p.m. will be docked 3 points; comments posted after the Sunday deadline will be docked 5 points.  Completing the post each week is not an option. I expect each and every one of you to comment on each and every topic. To get full credit you also must read the article and react to all questions posed in the blog post.  Failure to do so will take 3 points from your grade. I also insist that you use correct spelling, punctuation, grammar.  I will correct minor oversights, but I will NOT spend my valuable time capitalizing "I" and "texting" slang.
     Whew! Now that I have gotten all of that out of the way, let's jump in. Our first discussions will center on the definitions of power, authority and legitimacy. We will also focus this week on the types of power. One type of power we will discuss on Thursday is pluralist power; whereby many groups compete for power so no one group has complete control. Many Americans like to believe this is the perfect theory when it comes to our country. I think it helps us somehow sleep better at night knowing that power is watered down so there is no one "Big Brother." So, let's test this theory. Who is really calling the shots and wielding power in our country? Read the article below, then come back here and comment on all of the following:
    1. Does this study surprise you? What are your fears if the findings are true?
    2. What will it take, in your opinion, for your generation to fix this problem?
    3. Donald Trump asserts that he is the best choice for President because he "Can't be bought" like the other candidates? Do you agree or disagree with his assessment? Explain.
    This article is based on a study of data. Click here if you want to read this study.
    The last day to post a comment for full credit is 11:59 on Friday, August 28th.
    Comments (21)
  • Help for Procrastinators

    Posted by Selina Jarvis at 8/9/2015 8:00:00 AM
    As I sit here contemplating my last week of summer vacation, I am sad that many of you will not be able to complete the mandatory FIVE blogs in the one per week format requirement. I am further distressed that some of you may be contemplating dropping the course consequently. I DO NOT WANT YOU TO DROP THIS COURSE!! Here is what I am willing to do for all of those that may fall in this category or partially in this category:
    1. Complete all 5 blogs in numerical order before Sunday, August 23rd.
    2. Any blogs after the first one you post for a week, however, will only count for 5 of 10 points.
    3. So, since you have 3 weeks left (Sunday-Saturday and the final Sunday), you can do 1 blog per week for 10 points and any others for 5 points.
    If you do this on schedule, you can still earn 40/50 points even if you haven't started! Good luck!
    Comments (0)
  • Summer Week 5: Voting and Elections

    Posted by Selina Jarvis at 7/19/2015 9:30:00 AM
    Please do the blog posts in order! (Start with week 1 and move through them in numerical order.)
    Wow!  This is the last blog for the summer.  Time is flying by quickly. There are so many other topics that we will be exploring this next school year that I was in a conundrum about which topic to pursue. One of the most hotly debated topics is NC's newly passed Voter I.D. law. So, let's tackle it!  Republican legislatures all across the nation have enacted new laws that require voters to show a picture i.d. These laws, they argue, will prevent fraud and maintain the integrity of our electoral system. Democrats, however, are calling "FOUL!" They have, of course, turned to the government's referee, also known as the court system. Democrats liken these laws to poll taxes that disenfranchise the poor, the urban population, and disproportionately minorities (all that tend to vote blue.) North Carolina is arguing over this issue and people are taking sides. So, here is what I would like you to do this week:
    1. Read the article below.
    2. Which side do you most agree with: the Democrats or the Reublican? Explain why.
    3. What else could be done to make this law more fair, if anything? Is this law even necessary? Explain! 
    4. Finally, after reading the article, tell me who you think will win this lawsuit & why.
    Remember, you may not post more than one comment per week (Sunday-Saturday). A 2-point bonus will be awarded to those students that post all five comments before July 31. This post will be available for comments until 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, August 23, 2015.  
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  • Summer Week 4: The Presidency

    Posted by Selina Jarvis at 7/12/2015 8:00:00 AM
    Please do the blog posts in order! (Start with week 1 and move through them in numerical order.)
    As we start the semester exploring the topic of power, invariably we must look at our own concentrated version of individualized power--the President.  What always strikes me as odd is how my students (as well as the general public) think of the President as an autocrat!  Love him or hate him, our President gets much of the credit and blame for nearly everything.  People call every congressional action by the President's name.  We hear phrases like "the Bush surveillance program" and terms like "Obamacare" in the media. These terms and phrases imply that the President acted alone to implement policies and programs. Nothing could be further from the truth! If and when immigration reform is passed by Congress and signed by President Obama, it will likely be called the "Obama immigration reforms." Americans will forget about the months and months of creation, deal-making, and compromising in Congress and just assume that President Obama wrote, passed and implemented the law. Long after President Obama leaves office, he will still exude power. He will command attention by the media, much like former Presidents Clinton and the Bushes do. How history will judge these four presidents remains up in the air and changes as time passes. With that introduction, here is what I would like you to do this week:
    1. Read the short article below and study the charts.
    2. Do you agree or disagree with the observations made in the article? How would you rate them?
    3. What do you feel is the main component on how a person judges a President's performance? 
    4. Finally, how do you think President Obama and his administration will be remembered?
    Remember, you may not post more than one comment per week (Sunday-Saturday). A 2-point bonus will be awarded to those students that post all five comments before July 31. This post will be available for comments until 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, August 23, 2015. 
    Comments (20)
  • Summer Week 3: The Judicial Branch

    Posted by Selina Jarvis at 7/5/2015 3:00:00 PM

    The judicial branch is probably the most misunderstood of the three branches in our national government.  Americans have a high standard of justice and when we feel justice is not served (perhaps like we may see in the George Zimmerman or Casey Anthony cases) we get angry and rail against the system.  Our country has always had a passionate love-hate relationship with this branch.  Many of the grievances listed in the Declaration of Independence concerned this branch:

    • He has obstructed the administration of justice, by refusing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers.  
    • He has made judges dependent on his will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries. 
    • For protecting them, by mock trial, from punishment for any murders which they should commit on the inhabitants of these states.  
    • For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of trial by jury: 
    • For transporting us beyond seas to be tried for pretended offenses:
    In convincing the states to ratify the Constitution, Alexander Hamilton wrote the following about the judicial branch in The Federalist, #78:
     "It proves incontestably, that the judiciary is beyond comparison the weakest of the three departments of power; that it can never attack with success either of the other two; and that all possible care is requisite to enable it to defend itself against their attacks. It equally proves, that though individual oppression may now and then proceed from the courts of justice, the general liberty of the people can never be endangered from that quarter."

    I am not so sure Hamilton would agree after looking at the many controversial decisions from this year's session of the US Supreme Court!  Our Court surely handed down some of its most contested rulings in nearly a decade. With a simple majority of five, the US Supreme Court can strike down any law, halt any action, or refuse to intervene to save a life.  When you couple those powers with the fact that these members serve for life--THAT'S power!  Click on the links below to look over the following case summaries from the session that just ended. Post your comments as to: 
    1. Whether or not you agree with these decisions & why or why not, and;
    2. Whether or not we have concentrated too much power in the hands of too few.  
    Remember, you may not post more than one time per calender week (Sunday-Saturday).  A two-point bonus will be awarded to those that post comments for all 5 blogs by July 31, 2015.  All comments must be approved, thus there will be a delay in seeing your comment posted (I am not on the Internet at all times!)  The last day to post a comment for this blog is August 23, 2015 at 11:59 p.m.
    Comments (21)
  • Summer Week 2: Congress

    Posted by Selina Jarvis at 6/21/2015 3:00:00 PM

    One topic this course emphasizes is that Congress is the "first branch of government." What that exactly means today is often up for interpretation.  The Framers gave the Congress the power to tax, the power to make laws and the power to fund nation's programs-just to name a few.  Most Americans, however, give the President the blame or credit--depending on their ideological point of view.  Although Congress passed the healthcare law, the stimulus packages, TARP, and the deficit budgets that have led to our nearly $19 trillion debt, the American public calls these "Obamacare," the "Obama Recovery," or the "Obama Bailouts."  I am certain James Madison would scratch his head at our misconceptions.  He would not be surprised, though, at the lively two-party system that has emerged.  I am certain he would point to these "factions" (as he called them in the Federalist #10) and be satisfied that there is a balance of power between the two.  In the article below, politics are to blame for the ongoing immigration mess between our divided government.  The Republican-controlled Congress wants to tackle the lack of border control; our Democratic President wants to reduce the long, complicated processes of citizenship and legal status. What to do? What kind of compromise will be hammered out, if any?  Here is what I would like you to do this week:

    1. Read the article below, then comment on what you think our course of action should be.  Which side do you most agree with and why?  What should we do about this tense issue of immigration?
    2. Study the second link to public opinion polls on what a majority of Americans think.  How do your views stack up?  In your post, make it apparent to me that you have read the article and studied the trends.



    Remember, you may only post one comment per week (Sunday-Saturday).  This post will be available for comments through 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, August 23rd.

    Comments (21)
  • Summer Week 1: Power

    Posted by Selina Jarvis at 6/14/2015 2:00:00 PM
    Welcome to the AP Government Blog!  The goal of my blog is to help my students develop a deeper understanding of the topics we will explore this year and to help you take that understanding to make real world connections.  The first topic we will explore in August is power.  All year we will explore the essential questions of Who governs? and To what ends?  We will also explore the ideas of authority and legitimacy in obtaining power.  So, how does one gain power over people?  What or who gives them that power?  How does that person get others to follow?  When atrocities occur, when should the US and other countries intervene? If we do get involved to what extent and what costs? If we don't get involved, do we let other destructive regimes call the shots?
    Before you begin, please sign in to the site in the upper right corner using your student id number and password.  If you cannot get the site to log you in, PLEASE start your post with your name.  Failure to do one of these two will get you no credit because I will have no way to know who posted the comment.
    Here is what I would like you to do in this post:
    1. Click on the following link to read the article.  Read the entire article. Power in North Korea
    2. Analyze the article using the questions below so that I can tell you have read the article and have a thorough understanding of its content.  How do you think someone like Kim Jong-un maintains power? Should the US be alarmed at the persistence of the Kim dynasty? What should our response to this regime be? Should the US do more to end the regime or mind our own business?  Explain your opinion!
    3. In your post, please relate the topic to the article's content. You may also respond to postings by fellow students.  Please use proper rules of grammar and language.  This blog is not a place to text message!  
    4. Some of you may have strong feelings concerning this article's topic...Please keep all responses appropriate!  If you feel the need to attack, attack the position--NOT THE PERSON.  
    Remember, you may not post more than one comment a week (Sunday-Saturday)!  This post will be available for comments through 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, August 23, 2015.
    Comments (21)
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