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. Now, I have never done this with any group, so I do not know how this blog will work...bear with me. 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 only 27 amendments and 27 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, May 1st.
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 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 the most interesting tidbit you learned about each of the four institutions: Congress, the Presidency, the Bureaucracy, and the Judiciary. What surprised you? What made you concerned? What were you glad you finally found out? 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 17th.
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 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 previous cases. Here is what I would like you to do this week:
1. Read the article below (you may also view the 2-minute video)..
2. How would you rule in this case? Why?
3. What is the benefit of your decision? What is the danger in your decision?
We will finish our discussions this week on the federal bureaucracy with a look at the problems that exist in this institution. Among the problems we will discuss are red tape, duplication, conflict, imperialism and waste. All of these problems make Americans crazy because they see their tax dollars adding up with very little to show for it. This article below is a CLASSIC example of why the bureaucracy behaves the way it does. The article will give you even more insight to how the bureaucracy behaves and well, "works." I do use that term loosely, though.
1. Read the article below.
2. Pick two problems of the bureaucracy listed above and give an example of each from the article.
3. Finally, explain just ONE thing you think the government could do to become more efficient. This suggestion may be from the article, our class discussions, or your own experiences.
This week we will transition from the Executive branch to the chapter on bureaucracy. We will start the week with a simulation on the structure of the White House Office, then test on the Presidency and finally conclude the week with our introduction to the bureaucracy. 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 been there, 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 6-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?
One 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:
1. Click on the link below. Study one week of the President's agenda. To do this, click any week prior to the current one. The link above is from last week, but you may choose any week you want. Start your post with the week you studied.
2. Comment on what a typical day in the life of a President really embodies. What trends do you notice?
3. What roles is he playing throughout the week and what powers do those actions embody? Are these formal or informal roles and powers?
Well, if we ever get back to school and in a normal routine, we will begin our study of the Presidency. I so enjoyed the banter between many of you last week on the topic of war powers. 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, etc. is constantly under scrutiny. When the President is attacked personally, it is easy for him to take the high ground, because he IS going to get the last word, or at least his people are. Couple that with the often liberal slant to the mainstream media and no one who attacks the President personally is going to be considered a winner. Here is what I would like you to do this week:
1. Read the article below. If you want to search for more articles on Guiliani's comments, there are TONS out there of every slant.
2. Do you think Guiliani was out of line for questioning Obama's patriotism or is it fair game? Explain your opinion.
3. Do you think this attack is "racially motivated" or do you believe that is an attack of misguided socialism? Explain!
We will wrap up our unit on Congress this week with a test. After that test, we will be starting of our unit on the President. To bridge those units, I wanted to find an article that illustrated the inter-branch workings of the federal government. After an exhaustive search, I settled on one issue with bipartisan criticism and little support from the President's own party. About 6 months ago, the President made the decision to carry out air strikes against ISIS (or ISIL) in Syria without the graces of Congress. Democrats and Republicans in Congress both cried "foul" for different reasons. Now, the President is seeking their permission and financial support but getting the cold shoulder. Seems President Obama can not win either way. So, read the article below. Then come back and respond to the following:
1. Do you think the President needs Congress' permission to carry out strikes against ISIS? Why or why not?
2. What do you see as the biggest criticism of the President by the Republicans? Do you agree? Explain.
3. What do you see as the biggest criticism of the President by the Democrats? Do you agree? Explain.
4. What do you think we should do to stop the spread of the terrorist attacks by ISIS?