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12th Grade AP Government
(Helpful Hints and Suggestions)
Teacher: Mr. Fisher
Email: [email protected]
Web site:
Text: American Government Institutions and Policies
Return by Thursday for 10 points
Course Outline
This college-level course is an introduction to the United States national government. We will study government institutions and
political processes and examine policy choices. The institutions and policies of the United States government will be considered in
light of historical change, constitutional procedures, and comparative perspectives
The AP American Government curriculum covers the foundations of American democracy through the study of essential documents,
the rights and obligations of American citizens, the unique roles and responsibilities of the three branches of government, an analysis
of landmark U.S. Supreme Court interpretations, issues regarding campaigns and elections and a study of American foreign and
domestic policy. Students will be held responsible for any and all information made available to them through text and supplemental
readings, writing assignments, lectures, student presentations, etc.
The goal of the course is to educate the student in American Government, prepare them for the AP exam, explore different political
issues, and further develop the foundations of the student’s ideology. The American Government course is a valuable opportunity for
students to become exposed to a variety of events, ideas, persons and places that will broaden their knowledge, allow them to better
appreciate our contemporary society and help them become more socially literate and aware.
You should develop an understanding of many of the principal themes and general concepts in United States politics, an ability to
analyze statistical and historical evidence regarding specific examples, evaluate historical interpretation as well as develop an ability
to express historical understanding in writing as well as in speech. We will study typical patterns of political processes and behavior as
well as their consequences. Following is a list of some of the issues we will consider.
Constitutional Underpinnings of United States Government
The Constitution: its historical context, its philosophical foundations and the way that we interpret it today.
Issues such as federalism, factionalism in party politics, theories of republican government, pluralism, elitism, and checks
and balances.
Supreme Court decisions which interpret the Constitution.
Political Beliefs and Behaviors
The demographic, social and economic features of the American population and how it shapes political culture of both
specific groups and of the whole.
The evolution and transmission of political culture and how it informs political participation.
Forms of political participation such as voting, protest, mass movements and how that affects the political system
Political Parties, Interest Groups and Mass Media
Mechanisms that allow citizens to organize and communicate their interests and concerns such as political parties, elections,
PACs, interest groups, lobbies, third parties, and the mass media.
The evolution of the U.S. party system, their structures and the effect parties have on the political process. Important
elements include party reform, campaign strategies and financing.
Elections, election rules and laws.
The role of the media, its impact upon public opinion, voter perception, electoral outcomes, agenda development, and the
images that the public has of our government and our elected officials.
Institutions of National Government
The organs of government including the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government and their relationships
with one another.
Ties between branches of the national government, political parties, interest groups, the media, and state and local
Public Policy
The formation of policy agendas, the enactment of public policies by the legislature and the executive, and the
implementation and interpretation of policies by the bureaucracy and the courts.
Students will also look at policy and issue networks in domestic and foreign spheres as well as major, contemporary public
Civil Rights and Civil Liberties
Legal, social and political evolution of civil rights and liberties as protected by the Amendments to the Constitution
The strengths and weaknesses of Supreme Court decisions as tools of social change, especially in regard to how the
Fourteenth Amendment has been interpreted.
In-class assignments and homework
Many of these assignments will require the students to read, review and study information from the textbook, class notes and other inclass assignments. Students will also be required to summarize articles from the newspaper and/or Internet that relate to the topics
being discussed in class. No late homework assignments will be accepted. Only students with excused absences will be allowed to
make-up homework assignments.
Students will be assigned a variety of group and individual activities during this semester. Generally, students will be allowed to
choose the members of their groups for activities in which one grade will be given to the entire group. Students should choose their
members wisely. In-class assignments and homework will comprise 45% of the students’ grade this semester.
Tests and Quizzes
Test and quiz questions will not only come from the textbook, but also from class lectures and discussions, student questions and
comments, simulations, videos, and guest speakers. Anything that takes place in the classroom is fair game to show up on tests and
quizzes. Students should expect to have several quizzes a week. Students must show-up on time for all tests and quizzes. Only
students with excused absences will be allowed to make-up tests and quizzes. Tests and quizzes will compromise 40% of the
students’ grade this semester. The final exam will comprise 15% of the students’ grade this semester.
Since this course moves at an accelerated pace, it is imperative that absences be held to a minimum. It is the responsibility of the
students to make arrangements to obtain missed work from classmates or my web site. Students are allowed to make-up assignments
for excused absences only. These assignments must be made-up within five school days. In the event of an absence on a test/quiz
day, it is the student’s responsibility to fill out the “Missed Quiz and Test Sheet” on the next day of attendance. Students should also
be prepared to take the test or quiz the next day of attendance.
Parent’s Signature:__________________________________________________________
Student’s Signature:_________________________________________________________