There is an old proverb that goes something like this, "Great endings come from good beginnings." I am hoping this year has been a great start to the work you all will be expected to do next year. I also hope that the trip ending this course is the capstone of your high school tenure that you will reflect back on from time to time as you move forward in the world. In a little over 2 weeks, you will take your final AP exam. To say this year has flown would be an understatement for me. I have enjoyed every minute of it, truly. As we rev up for our reviews, I would like to start here with the blog. I did this blog last year for the first time with a great deal of success and hope to have similar results this year. So, here is what I would like you to do this week:
List a fact about ONE constitutional amendment that you learned this year.
Define a word for your peers that you find to be a challenging concept.
List one agency in the bureaucracy and the area they oversee.
Explain one misconception that most Americans have, then hit us with some knowledge with the truth.
Now, here is the catch...nothing can be repeated. (I will remind you that there are 27 amendments and only 21 in the class, but there are at least 5 parts to the 1st and 5th amendments!) The later in the week you wait, the harder this blog will be because you will need to read what your classmates have written before you post. Here is my list from above:
The 12th Amendment separated voting for the President and Vice President. Today, they run as a ticket.
An amicus curiae brief is filed as a way for special interest groups to lobby the SCOTUS in how a case should be decided.
The Federal Election Commission is a regulatory commission that enforces federal election laws and oversees disclosure of all campaign contributions. They have the power to make policies, enforce these policies and punish those that break them.
Many Americans believe lobbyists walk around with bags of money bribing government officials into making laws. Actually, there are so many lobbyists, representing so many interests, that what they really seek is simply access to provide information to the lawmakers. The rules about money today (disclosure) also keep both lobbyists and lawmakers honest.
Good luck! We will use this blog next week in one of our class reviews.
The last day to post comments for full credit is 11:59 p.m. on Friday, April 29th.
This blog marks the last blog with an article attached...the end is surely very near! Make it through this week and you have officially made it to the end of the content of the course. Since we are covering environmental policy this week and testing on Earth Day, I thought I would finish out the articles with one on this topic. We will debate the contentious nature of environmental policy with many topics like the Keystone Pipeline, Endangered species, Offshore oil drilling and Global warming just to name a few. This article is from a site we have used several times this year, Gallup.com, and is just a general overview of public opinion.
Here is what I would like you to do this week:
1. Study the chart below.
2. Comment on one piece of data that surprises you and one that does not surprise you at all.
3. Read the article below.
4. Elaborate on where you stand in this Gallup poll compared to other Americans and why.
Well, you all have made it past that dreaded third nine weeks and we are officially on the down-slope towards your graduation. We will officially complete our in depth study on the institutions of government this week with our test on the bureaucracy and the judiciary. I hope you have learned a great deal of details concerning how our federal government really functions. To give you all a bit of a break this week, there is no article...only opinions and dialogue. Here is what I would like you to do this week.
Explain one interesting tidbit you learned about each of the four institutions: Congress, the Presidency, the Bureaucracy, and the Judiciary. What surprised you? What concerns you? What were you finally able to understand? Tell me some great details!
Then, defend which branch you think is (a) the most powerful, (b) the least dangerous, and (c) the most misunderstood?
Finally, rate yourself on how well you think you understand the four institutions we have studied from 1-10 with 10 being "I've got this!"
The last day to post a comment for full credit is 11:59 p.m. on Friday, April 15th.
This week we will begin our study of the last of the institutions, the federal judiciary. Their list of powers in the US Constitution is relatively unimpressive. There is no mention of their greatest power, judicial review. This power was conferred upon the courts by their own rulings. John Marshall, in writing the opinion in Marbury v. Madison said, " It is emphatically the province of the judicial department to say what the law is." Over 200 years later, the Supreme Court is still reviewing laws that allegedly conflict with the Constitution. The case you are reading about this week, Zubik v. Burwell, is very controversial. As the Affordable Care Act undergoes yet another challenge, the arguments seem to be along the partisan lines as both the NFIB case (that unsuccessfully challenged the entire law) and the Hobby Lobby case (that successfully challenged the birth control mandate on religious freedom grounds). The Obama administration argues that allowing these types of challenges effectively dismantle the access to care as the law intended. Opponents argue this an example of Congressional error and discretionary authority run amuck. So, like the SCOTUS, I want you to interpret the law. I have put hyperlinks above if you want a simple summary of the current and previous cases. Here is what I would like you to do this week:
1. Read the article below.
2. How would you rule in this case? Why?
3. What is the benefit of taking the compromise offered by the Court? What is the danger?
As I sit and grade FRQs tonight, I am thankful that we are coming to the end of the third quarter. It is with this busy feeling that I am making the executive decision to NOT do a blog this week. We all deserve a break! So as we head into Spring Break, put your nose to the grindstone and get ready to finish the course with a flourish when we return. The only assignment you will have over the break is a regular reading assignment that will be due the Monday we get back from the break on April 4th. Finish this week strongly, then rest!
This week we will begin our study of the institution of the bureaucracy. With the unit on the Presidency under your belts, you hopefully can see that the executive powers of the President are only as good as the agencies that carry out the laws day-to-day. We will start this week with a study of the arguably most hated part of the bureaucrcy there is...the IRS. This agency can strike fear into the hearts of even the most law-abiding taxpayer. The agency has been so reviled by the Republican Congress and the prospective GOP candidates, that their very future has been questioned. Now, I do not think the IRS is going to be abolished no matter who becomes our next President, but it sure does sell nicely on the campaign trail. As a slave to both branches, the IRS is a tough place to work right now. So, here is what I would like you to do this week.
This week we will finish out study of the executive branch. We will start the week with a discussion of war powers, act out a simulation on the structure of the White House Office, then finally conclude the week with our discussion of our projects. Working at the White House has to be the ultimate thrill! Imagine being part of history and helping to shape decisions that come out of the Oval Office in the West Wing. For me, it is hard to imagine there being a down-side to working there, especially knowing it may only be for at most 8 years. After reading this article, I realize I could never cut it in that world. I value my family time too much I suppose. I still find it challenging sometimes juggling my job with my family, but my boss has family, too and she is very understanding. This article is a bit dated, but it is still very relevant to our conversations this week. Okay, here is what I want you to do this week:
1. Read the article below.
2. What did you learn about the White House Office from the article?
3. What did you learn about Barack Obama's leadership style, if anything, from the article.
4. Finally, what do you think, would be the best and worst things about working in the West Wing?
As we wind down the week, we will wind down our study of the Presidency. We have studied the requirements, the duties and the roles of the President. This week, we will look at the honeymoon period and the second term slump. A quick study of President Obama's first 7-years in office highlights the trends that Wilson points out in his textbook. Furthermore, President Obama is victim of another trend: party polarization. This week, here is what I would like you to do:
1. Watch the video in the first link.
2. Click on the second link and study the trends.
3. Analyze President Obama's job performance by using the information and the trends.
a. What trends are the most telling to you about his Presidency?
b. What do you think about his overall performance & why?
This week, we will explore the 13 powers delegated to the President by the Constitution and its amendments. We will also explore the expansion of his powers through the "Take care" clause and other interpretations of the vague language of the Constitution. That Americans (and some candidates) believe the President governs as an autocrat frightens and baffles me.
Another discussion we will have this week concerns the many "hats" a President must wear. Although, the Constitution is fairly concise in detailing the powers and duties of the office, more and more demands have been placed upon "the Leader of the Free World." Some of these roles are obvious and the powers are easy to synthesize; others are implied and the powers that these roles entail have led to the current controversy with the Republican-led Congress. We will study both the powers and the roles this week that the office entails and ask the question, 'How powerful is the President?" So, here is what I would like you to do this week:
Click on the link below. Study two different days of the President's agenda. To do this, click on any day's "The Schedule" link. The link below is from February 23, but you may choose any days you want. Start your post with the days you studied.
Comment on what a typical day in the life of a President really embodies. What trends do you notice?
What roles is he playing throughout those days and what powers do those actions embody? Are these formal or informal roles and powers?
It is with tragic and unexpected events that we will begin our study of the Presidency this week. We have already discussed how the future of the SCOTUS lies in the hands of our next President, considering the average age of the current Court...but, who could've foreseen that it is up in the air as to that direction right now? We will rekindle that debate in class eventually. This week we will look at the "bully pulpit" aspect of the President. This unusual phrase was coined by President Teddy Roosevelt when he referred to the White House as a "bully pulpit," by which he meant a terrific platform from which to advocate an agenda. That terrific platform would even amaze ol' Teddy, what with the 24/7 news coverage that we have today. The President's every remark, move, gaff, trip, stumble, statement, etc. is constantly under scrutiny. When the President takes controversial actions, he can "sell it" to the public via his use of the media and "wait out" the judicial challenges. He has done this on immigration, healthcare, and other initiatives that Congress has failed to act upon. So, does this sudden conflict on who should appoint this vacancy matter? Here is what I would like you to do this week:
Read the article below.
Weigh in first on whether you think the President SHOULD nominate a replacement or not & why.
Stare decisis means "let the decision stand." This principle is what guides cases that end in a tie or that are unresolved in the SCOTUS. Is the US Senate smart to take this alternative over a justice with a lifetime tenure as a replacement for Scalia? Explain your opinion.