Government and Politics Syllabus

Government and Politics Syllabus

Advanced Placement

Government and Politics Syllabus

Akins High School

The Advanced Placement Program is intended for qualified students who wish to complete studies in secondary school equivalent to a one-semester college introductory course in United States Government and Politics. The state of Texas has a one-semester government course requirement for graduation; AP Government and Politics meets that requirement.

Philosophy:AP Government and Politicsis an introduction course designed to provide students with a thorough understanding of the principles of government and politics in the United States. This course involves both the study of general concepts used to interpret U.S. politics and the analysis of specific case studies. It also requires familiarity with the various institutions, groups, beliefs, and ideas that make up U.S. political reality.

All students will be expected to keep up with their reading and to demonstrate their preparedness by active participation in class discussions. The course will emphasize essay writing skills; approximately every week students can expect to write a free-response essay in class.

Projects: Most units will include a real life scenario project that will emphasize contemporary issues or policies and their application in everyday life. Most of these projects can be completed during class time with a small amount of out of class time for extended studies.

AP Examination: The AP Exam is 2 hours and 25 minutes in length. The exam is divided between a 45-minute multiple-choice section consisting of 60 questions and a 100-minute free-response (essay) section consisting of four mandatory questions. The multiple-choice and free response sections of the exam will have equal weight, each accounting for 50% of the total score.


Edwards, George C., Wattenburg, Martin, and Robert Lineberry. Government in America, 10th edition. New York: Addison-Wesley Longman, Inc., 2002.

Additional Reading Materials:

The Lanahan Readings in the American Polity, 5th edition, Ann Serow, Everett Ladd.

The Federalists, James Madison: 10, 39, 46, 51

Democracy in America, Alexis De Tocqueville

Various News Articles from sources such as NPR, New York Times, Washington Post, Time Magazine, Atlantic Monthly

Cheating/Plagiarism:At the University level, students are permanently expelled for this offense, and other colleges and universities will refuse their entry. Needless to say, this subject is taken seriously. If a student is caught cheating or has plagiarized, a grade of Zero will be given for the test or assignment and a parent conference will be immediately scheduled

Required Materials:These items must be brought to class every day: textbook, notebook,paper, pen (blue or black), and pencil.

Notebook:You will be required to keep a notebook for this class. You should put all your notes, assignments, handouts, review sheets etc. in your notebook as you will refer to it on a regular basis and need it to study for the final exam and AP exam.

Important Points! Class Rules and Class Procedures

All information not covered here is covered by Campus and District policy and will be strictly adhered to. (i.e., student behavior, appropriate dress, etc.)

Tardies:Please be in the class and in your seat by the 2nd bell so as not to be counted tardy.

Restrooms/Water/Food: You are encouraged to go to the restroom and get a drink of water before or after class. If it is an emergency, you make request to be excused to use the restroom. Bottled water may be available during class time but no food or other drinks should be out during class time.

Substitutes:In the event of a substitute, it will be your responsibility to cooperate with the substitute. ALL class guidelines should be followed.

Reading and Chapter Outlines: Most of the textual reading will be accomplished outside of the classroom. Class time will be devoted to lectures, discussion, and activities of various topics. Students will also be assigned various outside readings. To experience optimal benefit, it is imperative that students read all assignments before coming to class.Complete and turn in all chapter outlines and vocabulary on the day they are due. Use them for reviewing before your tests.

Assignments:Assignments will further your knowledge and are due during class on the date assigned. Work assigned before an absence is due the day the student returns. Failure to turn in a major assignment can seriously affect your grade. All honest attempts are rewarded.

Cell Phones/ Electronic Devices- Unless told otherwise, all cell phones and electronic devices are to be turned off and placed in your bags. They may be used for various class activities only per teacher’s instruction.

Attendance:Attendance in class is critical. There are many learning experiences in class that cannot be duplicated by copying notes or reading a chapter. Students who miss class often (for any reason) are jeopardizing their grade in this course. If a student is absent, responsibility for obtaining and making up missed work is the student's. Students are encouraged to have a

" buddy" to call in case of an absence. Be here! The grade you save may be your own!

Seeking Assistance:Students can improve their learning considerably by being pro- active in the learning process. Questions, carefully formulated and articulated, make a world of difference in learning any subject. Students should seek help as soon as they do not understand the material, rather than waiting just before tests or assignments are due. I am availablebefore school and after school and during most lunch periods for questions and assistance with students.

Grading Criteria:You will be evaluated in various ways. In the course of the semester, you will take tests and quizzes. All class activities, assignments, and homework will beevaluated.

Tests, Projects – 60%

Quizzes, Homework, Daily Work- 40%


A student who earns a failing grade on a unit test will be given an opportunity within five school days to redo the test in order to earn up to the grade associated with minimal passing. A student is entitled to only one opportunity to redo a test for which a failing grade has been earned.

Projects: Students will be required to participate in various independent and group projects throughout the semester. Projects will include both individual and group written and presentations.

AP Exam Study Sessions and Tutoring:

Study Sessions will be held various times throughout the school year in preparation for the May Examination. The times and dates for tutoring will be determined at a later time.

Expectations: You will be expected to do your own work, have it ready on time, attend class on a regular basis, and most importantly, assume the responsibility for your own actions. Your attitude and behavior will determine the way the class is conducted for the semester. Hopefully, we will have an interesting, open, and enjoyable semester.

REMEMBER: This class is geared to the assumption that all students will be taking the AP Exam in May. It requires a tremendous amount of work. It is impossible to touch upon every concept in the text that will be relevant for successful completion of this course and the AP Exam. It is up to the student (YOU) to help in this endeavor. We will try to cover as much as possible in class, but as in other college level classes, not all can be covered in the class time, therefore you must be responsible for all assigned readings and assignments. In the "short-run" this requires time and energy galore, but in the "long-run" it will be most beneficial for you when studying/reviewing for the AP Exam- the time has been put forth up-front. The payoff can be enormous.

Unit One: Constitutional Underpinnings (3 weeks)

•Government, Politics and Public Policy

•Origins of the Declaration of Independence/ Constitution

•Articles of Confederation

•Ratification Debates: Federalists versus Anti-Federalists

•Basic Principles of the Constitution: Popular Sovereignty. Federalism, Separation of Powers, Limited Government, Checks and Balances, Theories of Democracy, Classifying Governments, Republic ism, Elitism, Pluralism

Bill of Rights

Unit Two- Institutions of the Government-Presidency and the Bureaucracy (3 Weeks)

•Powers of the Presidents

•The Executive Establishments

•The Public Presidency

•Politics of Shared Power

•Federal Bureaucracy

•Constitution Amendments

Unit Three-Institutions of Government-Congress ( 2 weeks)

•Congress: Structure and Organization

•Getting Elected

•The Legislative Process

•Powers of Congress

•Role of Congress in the Budget Process

•Constitution Amendments

Unit Four- Institutions of the Government- Federal Courts (2 weeks)

•Court Structure

•Politics of Judicial Selection

•Evolution of the Court's Role in Government

•Courts as Policy Makers

•Landmark Cases

Unit Five- Public Policy (2 weeks)

•Public Policy Making

•Formation of Public Policy

•Types of Public Policy

Unit Six- Voting, Elections, Campaign Finance, and Mass Media (2 weeks)

•Nominations and Campaigns

•The Electoral College

•Campaign finance

•Political Participation

•Voting and Voter Behaviors

Unit Seven- Public Opinion, Political Parties, and Interest Groups (2 weeks)

•Public Opinion and Political Action

•Political Parties Historical Development, and Ideology

•Political Parties: Today's Effect

•Interest Groups: Nature, Functions, and Activities

•Effects of Interest Groups on the Political Process

•PACS: Characteristics, Role in the Political Process

•Gerrymandering/ Reapportionment

Unit Eight- Civil Liberties and Civil Rights (2 weeks)

•Bill of Rights

•Constitutional Amendments

•Development of Civil Liberties

•Case Studies

Dear Parents,

I would like to welcome you to the current school year. I am very happy to have the opportunity to be your student’s AP U. S. Government teacher. As an educator, I believe that all children deserve the opportunity to be successful in the classroom. Together we can achieve this goal. If ever you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me at or 512-841-9032. I will also be setting up an account on Edmodo to assist your student in being alert to assignments and expectations.

AP U. S. Government is a rigorous college level course. Students will be expected to do a lot of reading and writing in this course. Chapter outlines will be handed out alone with vocabulary terms pertinent to the themes being studied. It is the responsibility of your student to complete these outlines and define the terms as a means of learning the information and to use as a review for their tests

Most units will include and real life scenario project that will emphasize contemporary issues or policy and their application in everyday life. Most of these projects can be completed during class time with a small amount of out of class time for extended studies.

It is the responsibility of your student to complete these outlines and define the terms as a means of learning the information and to use as a review for their tests. It is also important that your student have a format for writing down their due dates for assignments, test or quizzes. They can use any calendar format in their notebook or in their smartphones.

This course will prepare your student for the AP Exam, which is given in May. College credit can be earned for all students so preparation for the AP Exam is standard practice.

I have high expectations for my students as I assume you have for your student. You can assist by encouraging them to practice good time management, as their senior year will be quite busy.I look forward to working with you and your student this year.


Ms. Baeslack