American Government Syllabus

  • American Government Syllabus

    2016 – 2017


    • Students will complete a quarter project on the October local election and a quarter project on the November federal election.


    • Students will attend one public meeting per quarter.


    • Students will complete two hours of community service each quarter.


    • Course Content:


    What is government?


    The State

    Four Characteristics: Population, Land, Sovereignty, Government


    Origin of the State

                Force Theory, Evolutionary Theory, Divine Right, Social Contract


    The Purpose of Government


                U.S. Preamble


    Forms of Government

                Who can participate?



                Geographic Distribution

                            Unitary Government

                            Federal Government

                            Confederate Government


    Legislative and Executive Branches

                Presidential Government

                Parliamentary Democracy


    Use the card activity to identify types of government


    Look for a current event that exhibits life under a different government.

                What is the relation of the people to their government?

    Empowered or powerless?

    What is their condition, quality of life? Issues?


    Foundations of Democracy

                Worth of the Individual

                Equality of Persons

                Majority Rule, Minority Rights

                Necessity of Compromise

                Individual Freedom


    Duties and Responsibilities of Citizenship


    Democracy and the Free Enterprise System


    Basic Concepts of Government





    Landmark English Documents

                The Magna Carta

                The Petition of Right

                The English Bill of Rights

                Chapter 2 Section 1 PPTX Foundations of Government


    Characteristics of Government in the Thirteen Colonies (32-34)


    PowerPoint: Meetings to the Constitutional Convention


    The Declaration of Independence (Video)


    The First State Constitutions


    The Articles of Confederation

                Structure of Government



    Creating the Constitution

    Introduction: Play a game with no rules


                Influences (Keynote) Philosophers Influenced the Founding Fathers PPTX





                Plans and A Bundle of Compromises

                            Great Compromise

                            Three-Fifths Compromise

                            Commerce and Slave Trade


                            Federalists vs Anti-Federalists


    Basic Principles of the Constitution

                Popular Sovereignty

                Limited Government

                Separation of Powers

                Checks and Balances

                Judicial Review



    Amending the Constitution

                Formal Amendment Process

                Change by Other Means

                            Basic Legislation

                            Executive Action

                            Court Decisions

                            Party Practices

                            Custom and Usage



    Federalism – The Division of Power PPTX

                Federalism Defined

                Powers of the Federal Government (Chapter 11 Sections 1 and 2)

                            Expressed Powers

                            Implied Powers (Chapter 11 Section 3)

                            Inherent Powers

                            Nonlegislative Powers (Chapter 22 Section 4)

                                        Constitutional Amendments

                                        Electoral Duties


                                        Appointments, treaty approval


                Powers Denied the Federal Government

                Powers Reserved to the States

                Powers Denied to the States

                Exclusive Powers

                Concurrent Powers

                Supremacy Clause


    The National Government and the 50 States

                Process for Admitting New States

                Federal Grants


                                        Categorical Grants

                                        Block Grants

                                        Project Grants

                Other Forms of Federal Aid

                State Aid to the National Government


    Interstate Relations

                Interstate Compacts

                Full Faith and Credit


                Privileges and Immunities



    Legislative Branch

    Chapter 11 Summary PPTX

                Structure of Congress

                House of Representatives

                            Qualifications for office (worksheet, want ad)

                            Size, terms



                            Qualifications for office (worksheet, want ad)

                            Size, terms, continuous body

                Personal and Political Background of Members

                Representatives of the People: Which is best?






                How Congress is Organized


                            Presiding Officers

                            Committee Structure


                            Types of Bills and Resolutions

                            Path of a bill through Congress

                            Bills in the House

                                        Limited debate, calendars, rules, voting by electronic board

    Bills in the Senate

                Filibuster, cloture, unlimited debate, voting by roll call

    President signs, vetoes, become a law 10 days later with no action, or

    pocket vetoes (Congress adjourns before 10 days is up so no



                Mr. Smith Goes to Washington



                Nominating Process (redo podcast)


    Electoral College – Why? Still OK?

                Job Description 13:1

                            State of the Union Message

    Qualifications: Formal and Informal

    Presidential Succession 13:2

                Growth of Presidential Power 14:1

                Executive Powers

                            Ordinance Power (Executive Orders)

                            Appointment Power

                            Removal Power

                            Executive Privilege

                Diplomatic and Military Powers 14:3

                Legislative and Judicial Powers 14:4


                Watch the State of the Union Address

                            Bingo and analysis


    The Federal Bureaucracy 15

                Executive Branch

                Executive Office of the President 15:2

                Cabinet 15:3

                Independent Agencies 15:4


    Financing Government 16

                Taxes and Other Revenue 16:1

                Borrowing and Public Debt 16:2

                Spending and the Budget 16:3

                Fiscal and Monetary Policy


    Foreign Affairs 17 (Cover through current events. U.S. responsibility or stay out?)


    Political Labels


                Liberals vs Conservatives (take a survey)

                Interest Groups

                Citizens United

                Campaign Finance Reform



                Legislation to improve voting opportunities




                Voter ID

                Debussion: photo id requirement?


    Judicial Branch

                Structure of the Federal Court System 18:1


                Judges: formal and informal qualifications

                How a judge decides, page 525

                U.S. Supreme Court


                            How cases reach the Court.

                            How the Court operates

                            Special Courts 538-540


    Each student will research and report on one court case.


    Reading, watching, or listening to news is an integral part of the course. Choose reputable news sites and be prepared to discuss news events in class. Every Friday, there will be a current events quiz.


    Work is due the day after it is assigned unless otherwise noted. If it is late, it must be accompanied by a late turn-in slip, or I will not accept it.


    Street Law

    Chapters 1-6


    Civil vs criminal law

    Legal terms

    Adjudication, mediation, arbitration

    Advocacy, lobbying

    Voting laws

    Steps in a trial

    Jury duty

    Hiring a lawyer


    Chapter 7

    Preventing and reporting crime


    Chapter 8


    8.1 p. 102

    8.2 p. 103

    The Case of the Drowning Girl

    8.3 p. 105

    8.4 p. 106


    Chapter 9


    You Be the Judge, p. 109

    Homicide cases




    Problem 9.2 p. 114


    Chapter 10 Crimes against Property


    10.1 Vandalism p. 116

    Shoplifting/Concealment/larceny (incorporate issues, p. 118)

    Problem 10.2 p. 117

    Problem 10. 4 p. 121

    Problem 10.5 p. 125

    Identify Theft, p. 122. Write a PSA, wrap, song warning people about identify theft.            Identify your audience and/or concern you want to address


    Chapter 11 Defenses


    Problem 11.1 on p. 128

    Problem 11.2 on p. 131

    (Breathalyzer presentation with school resource officer)


    Chapter 12 Search and Seizure

    (Search and seizure presentation with school resource officer; include Mike Rath to get en loco parentis aspect)

    What to do if you’re arrested, p. 138

    Discussion about employee drug testing


    Chapter 18


    Review torts

    Discuss pp. 214 and 215.

    Do problem 18.1 together in class: a-c in class; d-g as homework

    Evan and Martha case on p. 274

    Strict Liability (TE p. 215)

    Discuss Problem 18.2, p. 219

    Discuss Problem 18.3, p. 220

    Taking Your Case to Court pp. 221-225

                Compare the criminal and civil processes TE p. 217 – chart

    Discuss who can be sued TE p. 217

    Class Action Suits TE p. 218

    Discuss Problem 18.4, p. 222 Liability of grocery story owners?

    Discuss Problem 18.5, p. 224 service manager overlooked steering wheel problem; liability?

    Discuss Problem 18.6. p. 225 Wrongful death in flight 103

    Discuss Problem 18.9, p. 228 Liability related to a car accident – fault?

    Discuss problem 28.10, p. 230 Who is responsible for medical expenses, etc.?

    Problem 18.11, p. 231 Is the school negligent in the fall?

    Pages 54-55


    Chapter 19 Intentional Torts


    Discuss problem 19.1 p. 233 Can the neighbor sue Jeremy’s parents? Explain

    Problem 19.2, p. 235 Torts that injure persons

    Problem 19.3, p. 237 Infliction of Emotional Distress

    Dealing with Antisocial Behavior in School (Bullying presentation with admin)

    Discuss 19.4, 19.5, 19.6, 19.7, 19.8 in groups

    Read and discuss problem 19.9 on page 249 and 19.10 on p. 252


    Chapter 20 Negligence


    Discuss Elements of Negligence, p. 254

    Define and explain duty and breaches

    Discuss Problem 20.1 The Spilled Coffee

    Discuss the Reasonable Person Standard, pp. 256-7 (TE pp. 240-1)

    Discuss Problem 20.2

    Review Causation, pp. 258-0 and complete Problem 20.4

    Review Background- Defenses, TE pp. 246-7

    Discuss Defenses to Negligence Suits, pp. 260-1

    In groups of 4, discuss “Determining a Defense to Negligence,” p. 263


    Chapter 21 Strict Liability


    Define strict liability: liability without fault

    Problem 21.1, p. 265 Toxic Torts (A Civil Action)

    Problem 21.2, p. 266 Animals: responsibility of owners

    Problem 21.3, p. 267 Product Defects

    Problem 21.4, p. 268 Defenses to Strict Liability

    Problem 21.5, p. 269


    Chapter 22 Torts and Public Policy


    Why would the business community support tort reform? Medical personnel?

    Do Problem 22.1 together in class.

    Do Problem 22.2 together in class


    Chapter 23: Contracts


    Standards used in negligence cases involving minors.

    In groups, complete Problem 23.1. Class discussion to review answers

    Problem 23.2 Minors and contracts

    Problem 23.3 Written and oral contracts

    Problem 23.4 Illegal Contracts


    Chapter 24: Warranties?


    What should you keep in mind when purchasing something?


    Chapter 25: Financial Services

    Guest speaker for overview

    Bank Accounts, pp. 289-293.

    Introduction to Credit, pp. 294-297

    Responsible credit and establishing/maintain good credit; review dangers

    In groups, make a list of recommendations for dealing with credit. Share with class.

    Problem 25.1 The Lost Wallet, responsibility

    Cost of Credit, pp. 300-1 Discuss Problem 25.4

    Explain other charges, p. 302: Costly Credit Arrangements, p. 303, and Truth in Lending, p. 303.


    The following topics will be considered if guest speakers are available: (Divorce and custody with Judge Stephens; foster parents for foster care and adoption; OCS rep?)

    Ch. 31 Marriage

    Ch. 32 Parents and Children

    Ch. 33 Forster Care and Adoption

    Ch. 34 Separation, Divorce, and Custody


    Ch. 44 Rights and Responsibilities in the Workplace

    (Employers in to talk about the liability they face, and why drug testing, i.e,. is essential-Alaska Airlines, Southeast Stevedoring?)