I have changed my post here at the last moment and hope this is more in line with what we will be delving into this week. We will tackle the Civil Rights Movement this week and end the week by comparing this movement to the women's movement. The debate today does not center largely on "equal political rights," but primarily on equal pay. This past April, the Paycheck Fairness Act was defeated in the Senate (again). Every single Democrat voted for it and every single Republican voted against it. Because of filibuster rules, the Democrats needed 60 votes to pass it...they fell 8 votes short. This law seems simple if studying the title, but concerns abound with its contents. So, here is what I would like you to do this week.
1. Read both articles below.
2. Which side do you agree with and why?
3. Should the government do more to guarantee equal pay for equal work or is that opening the door for more troubles?
This week we will explore the many interpretations of what is protected under the 1st Amendment and what is not, often leading to prosecution in the courts. Very rarely do I find an article that so superbly hits two topics, but this is an unusual story to say the least. We have done several articles on terrorists, terrorism and security this year. I feel confident that many of you will respond to this article in a similar fashion, but this article has a few twists. The person is an American, the person has not broken a law, and the government redacted (marked out due to the information being classified) so much of the information is speculation. So, here is what I would like you to do this week:
2. Take a position in the debate about whether a person should be investigated under section 215 for merely expressing sympathy or support for terrorist activities? Support your position!
3. Explain which of the following is the greatest danger to our country: Suppressing expression for terrorism? Government redacting information from the public? Allowing citizens to openly support terrorist activities?
The last day to post a comment for full credit is midnight on Friday, October 17th.
I really enjoyed your comments last week on the dilemmas of immigration that face our country. I anxiously await our debates on Tuesday over the four immigration options. From that debate, we will begin framing our conversations on civil liberties. We will look at what they are, how they have been defined and interpreted by the courts, and finally, who is entitled to them. That last part is the tricky one. Who should be entitled to civil liberties: Prisoners? Illegal immigrants? Terrorists? That very dilemma is at the crux of this week's blog and in a hearing this week in Washington, DC. So, here is what I would like you to do this week:
1. Read the article below.
2. What are your feelings toward the force feeding practices: Torture or life-preserving? Explain!
3. What rights should these prisoners of war have: Trial by jury? Free Speech? Right to Counsel? Others?
4. What do you think the judge may decide in this case with video evidence and why?
After our test is over this week on the Foundations unit, we will jump right into Civil Liberties and Civil Rights-My favorite unit! The unit offers no shortage of controversial topics to debate, that is for sure. We will start with a powder keg-IMMIGRATION. Yes, yes, that topic is surely going to get some blood boiling and veins popping out at the temples. Many proposals have been offered as to what should be done about the problem, if anything. You are going to read some controversial options this week and we will culminate the unit with a debate. The topic is now on the political "back burner" again, however. ISIS is now consuming the headlines and it seems as if immigration is no longer a concern. I'm sure after the midterm elections in about a month, the topic will ignite again. Below are links to two very different immigration interest groups. Explore the sites and look over their proposals.
After reading and perusing the sites, tell me your initial thoughts on the subject.
1. What should our nation's immigration policy be?
2. Which group's site is more in line with what your views are? Explain your answer.
There is a proverb that says, "Money is the root of all evil." I am sure that you have heard that before. We all know that you have to have money to survive. In this economy, though, it seems that free money is in short supply. States, like ours, are struggling to pay for education. Class sizes are larger, teachers are fewer, course offerings are limited, etc. and etc. Testing is expensive. But a new kind of testing is underway. North Carolina Final Exams are designed to gauge how much students have learned and thereby assess just how effective the teachers are. NC has spent billions on development of this new curriculum, training for teachers, technology to support it, and of course on test development. This initiative is President Obama's Education plan called Race to the Top. Tied to Obama's reform is money...free money to those states that "play" by the new rules. NC took the money, rewrote all of its K-12 curriculum to match the national Common Core standards. NC also rewrote how it evaluate teachers to include tying performance to how a teacher's students perform on state tests. This nationalization of school standards is controversial for so many reasons, but does that make it a bad plan? NC is now thinking about repealing this new common core curriculum as both conservatives and liberals alike are shouting NO to these standard. Who should determine what students learn, how to know they have learned it, and what makes a teacher a good teacher? Read the pro, con and the legislative update from NC articles below. After reading, come back here and comment as experts (AKA students) on each of the following:
1. What is good and bad about this education plan?
2. What will improve performance of all students in your opinions?
3. How do we ensure that no child is left behind and that we reach the top in the world again?
4. Should the federal government just take over education fro the states?
Chapter 3 looks at the complicated aspect of federalism in our republic. This principle sets our nation apart from most others. The states created the national republic, but most of the Framers would be appalled at how few true powers the states have retained. The 10th Amendment was intended to protect the states by reserving to them any power not delegated to the federal government or specifically denied to them. That was 1791! The line between federal and state authority has continued to be erased by that good ol' 14th Amendment and the Commerce clause's interpretation. Marriage has traditionally been viewed as a "reserved power" of the states. This rationale follows the language of the Tenth Amendment...there are no provisions giving the federal government dominion over marriage; the power is not denied to the states; so the power belongs to the states. But the issue becomes the federal government's business when it violates the 14th Amendment's equal protection clause. The federal courts had a precedent to intervene in states' denial of marriage in the 1960's. In Loving v. VA, the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) struck down laws that banned interracial marriages. So, should they do the same with same sex marriage? In June, 2013, the High Court struck down DOMA and California's Proposition 8, but stopped short of ruling all gay marriages legal. NC voted to amend our state Constitution, keeping marriage only between one man and one woman in May, 2012! Now, states like Indiana and ours that ban gay marriage are both saying to the federal government: Keep your laws off our powers.Gay marriage proponent states like Massachusetts are lining up to head to court to have these laws struck down. Read the article below and respond to each of the following:
1. Should the SCOTUS settle this issue once and for all? How should they rule & why?
2. Do you support a 10th or a 14th Amendment view? In other words, who should define marriage the states or the federal government?
3. What is the danger of this issue being settled by the SCOTUS? What is the danger in them not deciding this issue?
The readings this week may seem fairly grueling as we delve into several primary documents. Among those that we will read this week are some of The Federalist papers. In #51, especially, an argument is given about how separation of powers will protect rights and keep the government from being abusive. Checks and balances tie the hands of the branch that over-stretch their authority. This concept of each branch overseeing a specific function is one of the cornerstones of our government. You all learned in Civics that the legislature MAKES the laws; the executive branch CARRIES OUT the laws; the judicial branch INTERPRETS the laws. What happens, though, if Congress does not act? Can the President go forward anyway? Should he be able to implement policy as "Chief Executive?" President Obama is a lame duck President ineligible for re-election, but many congressional members must run again this fall. If the Democrats lose the Senate, the President is vowing to implement immigration reform with or without the help of the Republicans. Decisions by both parties are tied up in politics it seems, not in the "will of the majority." Is this what the Framers intended?
1. Read the article below to understand the conflict surrounding this issue.
2. Comment on whether this blurring and blending of branches is a good or bad idea using the questions above to help.
3. Explain your answers to the questions above thoroughly!
This short 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. Now, fast forward to 2014 and you can imagine how the Chinese citizens of Hong Kong feel. Promised great autonomy when returned to China in 1997, these citizens are feeling betrayed as the powers in Beijing strip their freedoms of self-government. Hopefully you will see some parallels in their plight to our plight back in 1776. Here is what I would like you to do this week:
1. Read the article below. What similarities and differences do you see between Hong Kong and the American colonies?
2. Who should be more fearful: Hong Kong over a Chinese crackdown or China over a successful revolution in Hong Kong? Explain.
3. How do you think this situation can or will impact the US?
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 up to 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 watching you? Do you feel like being monitored if it makes everyone safer? Read the article below, then come back here and comment on all of the following:
1. What do you think are the biggest benefits to being monitored by your insurance company?
2. What are the biggest dangers to your privacy in your opinion?
3. What type type of power does this create and for whom? (See ch. 1 for an explanation of these!)
4. Finally, what are your overall feelings about this type of program?
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:
2. Which side do you most agree with: the Democrats or the Reublican? Explain why.
3. What 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 24, 2014.