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AP American Government and Politics Syllabus

AP United States Government & Politics

The Course:

Combining a study of American government and politics with an in-depth study of an individuals rights under the Constitution. This course involves discussion, problem solving, and role playing simulations. The South Carolina Social Studies Standards will serve as a guide for the content of the course as well as material from the College Board. Students are expected to enhance their understanding of our government and politics by keeping up with current events.

The Advanced Placement Program is designed for students who are preparing to earn a four-year degree beyond college.  They must be willing to accept the challenge of academic expectations beyond the honors level requirements.  Advanced Placement students should be advanced readers.  College credit is awarded by colleges based on the level of achievement on the AP exam.

Required Materials:


  • Text Book:                         Bardes, Barbara A. American Government and Politics      

                       Today: 20015-2016 Edition. Boston: Cengage Learning


  • Supplemental Readings:  Kernell, Samuel. Editor. Principle and Practice of

        American Politics: Classic and Contemporary

        Readings. Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 2000.


                                                          Rossiter, Clinton. Editor. The Federalist Papers.

        New York: Penguin Group, 1999


  • Workbooks:                      Caliguire, Augustine. U.S. Government, Book 1: We the People.

        USA: The Center For Learning, 2005.


                                                          Leach, Roberta J. U.S. Government, Book 2: Government for the

                                                                        People and by the People. USA: The Center For Learning, 2005.

Contact Information:

  • Email: aflowers@wiliston.k12.sc.us               
  • Phone: 803-266-3110 (Office) 803-266-8035 (Classroom)
  • Website: http://www.williston.k12.sc.us/olc/teacher.aspx?s=86
  • Room Number and Planning Periods: Room 133, 4th Block Planning


World Wide Web Resources are located at:





  • Daily Grades         30% of yearly average

                                    (Includes homework, reaction papers, class work, and class participation)


  • Major Grades       50% of yearly average

                                                (Includes unit exams, projects, and writing assignments)


  • Unit Exams          20% of yearly average

                                                (Seniors with a 90 yearly average may exempt the final exam)



Students should follow the procedures for attendance that are outlined in their handbooks. AP U.S. Government & Politics is a semester course, therefore; students are not allowed to miss more than six days. Make-up work is the responsibility of the student. All work, including tests, will expire at the end of the quarter. If the work is not made up by the expiration date, then a zero will be given as a grade.  Test corrections will be allowed at the discretion of the teacher. Tardiness will not be accepted. Students should show up to class on time or they will be marked tardy unless they have a pass. Tutoring will be available to students on Thursday afternoons from 3:00-4:00 pm.

Classroom Rules:

  1. Follow all instructions given by the teacher.
  2. Students are to be seated in their desks when the bell rings and to begin on work given by the teacher.
  3. Bring all required materials to class everyday.
  4. Remain respectful at all times.
  5. Make-up work is the responsibility of the student and will not be discussed during class.
  6. At the end of the class, students are to remain seated until they are dismissed by the teacher.

Course Timeline-Approximate timeline of covered topics. Teacher reserves the right to deviate from the timeline if necessary.



Unit 1-Chapters: 1-3

Basics of Government, The Constituion, Federalism

Unit 2-Chapters: 4-5

Civil Liberties, Civil Rights

Unit 3-Chapters: 6-11

Public Opinion and Public Socialization, Interest Groups, Political Parties, Campaigns and Elections, The Media and Cyberpolitics.

Unit 4-Chapters:12-14

The Congress, The Presidency, The Bureaucracy, The Judicial System

Unit 5-Chapters: 15-18

Domestic and Economic Policy, Foreign and Defense Policy, State and Local Governments


Chapter Assignments



Chapter Reading


Supplemtnal Reading

One-One Republic: Two Americas

Evolution of Politics, Authority and Legitimacy, Sources of Political Power, Direct Democracy, Representative Democracy, Political Socialization, Changing Face of America, Political Ideology

pp. 1-34

U.S. Government Book 1 pp. 5-7 “Government: Should It Be Limited or Absolute?”


Two-The Constitution

Colonizing Efforts, British Restrictions and Colonial Greievances, Colonial Response, Declaring Independence, Rise of Republicanism, Articles of Confederation, Drafting the Constitution, U.S. Government Influences, Ratification of the Constitution, Bill of Rigths, Formal and Informal Amendment Process

pp. 35-68


The Constitution of the U.S.A pp. 644-659

U.S Government Book 1 pp. 12-16 “Colonial Unrest, In Support of Change”

The Federalist Papers, #10

(Reaction Paper)


Unitary System, Confederal System, Federal System, Why Federalism?, Constituional basis for Federalism, McCulloch v. Maryland, Gibbons, v. Ogden, Civil War, Dual Federalism, Cooperative Federalism, Federal Grants-in-Aid, Federalism and the Supreme Court

pp. 69-103

U.S. Government Book 1 pp. 20-30 “Federalist vs. Anti-Federalist”

The Federalist Papers, #51

(Reaction Paper)





Chapter Reading


Supplemtnal Reading

Four-Civil Liberties

14th Amendment, Freedom of Religion, Freedom of Expression, Freedom of the Press, Right to Assemble and to Petition, Privacy Rights, Rights of the Acused vs. the Rights of the Society

pp. 104-147



Five-Civil Rights: Equal Protection

African Americans and the Consequences of Slavery in the U.S., Civil Rights Movement, Modern Civil Rights Legislation, Immigration and the Civil Rights Agenda,

Women’s Rights, Gender Based Discrimination in the Workplace

pp. 148-183


Princples and Practices of American Politics pp. 153-164 “Desegregation is Dead” by Megan Twohey

(Rection Paper)

Six-Civil Rights: Beyond Equal Protection

Affirmative Action, Bakke Case, Bilingual Education, Protection for Older Americans, Protections for those with Disabilities, Rights of Juveniles

pp. 183-200


Princples and Practices of American Politics pp. 135-152 “Understanding White’s Resistance to Affirmative Action” by Laura Stoker

(Reaction Paper)





Chapter Reading


Supplemental Reading

Twelve-Congress (Legislative Brach)

Why Congress was created, Enumerated Powers, Necessary and Proper Clause, Functions of Congress, House-Senate Differences, Congressional Elections, Congressional Reapportionment, Pay, Perks, and Privileges, Congressional Committees, Formal Leadership in Congress, How a Bill Becomes a Law, Congress and the Budget

pp. 379-417

U.S. Government Book 1 pp. 141-142 “The House of Representatives and Senate”

p. 156 “How a Bill Becomes a Law”

Princples and Practices of American Politics pp. 245-271 “The Senate in Bicameral Perspective” by Richard F. Fenno Jr.

(Reaction Paper)

Thirteen-The Presidency (Executive Branch)

Presidential Qualifications, Process of Becoming President, Roles of the President, Presidential Powers, Abuse of Power Executive Organization, Vice Presidency

pp. 418-453

U.S Government Book 1 pp. 177-178 “The Roles of the President”

pp. 198-199 “Responsibilities of the Executive Department”

The Federalist Papers #’s 67 and 68

(Reaction Paper)

Fourteen-The Bureaucracy

Public and Private Bureaucracies, Models of Bureaucracy, Size of Bureaucracy, Organization of Bureaucracy, Staffing the Bureaucracy, Sunshine Laws, Sunset Laws, Privatization, Production Incentives, Whistleblowers, Bureaucrats as Politicians and Policymakers, Congressional Control of the Bureaucracy

pp. 454-486

U.S. Government Book 1 pp. 235-236 “Discrimination and Democracy in Bureaucracy”






Chapter Readings


Supplemental Readings

Fifteen-The Judiciary (Judicial Branch)

Common Law Tradition, Sources of American Law, Federal Court System, Supreme Court, Selection of Federal Judges, Policy Making and the Courts, Judicial Review, Judicial Activism and Restraint, Checks on the Court

pp. 487-517

U.S. Government Book 1 pp. 209-210 “The Structure of the Federal Court System”

pp. 216-217 “Gibbons v. Ogden, 1824”

Federalist Papers #78

(Reaction Paper)

Seven-Public Opinion and Political Socialization

Defining Public Opinion, Measuring Public Opinion, Technology and Opinion Polls, Political Socialization, Political Opinion and the Political Process

pp. 201-231


Princples and Practices of American Politics pp. 503-534 “Analyzing and Interpreting Polls” by Herbert Asher

(Reaction Paper)

Eight-Interest Groups

Interest Groups and Social Movements, Number of Groups, Solidary Incentives, Material Incentives, Purposive Incentives, Types of Interest Groups, What makes an Interest Group Powerful, Interest Group Strategies, Interest Groups and Campaign Money, Regulating Lobbyists, Interest Groups and Representative Democracy, Iron Triangles

pp. 232-263

U.S Government Book 2 pp. 141-142 “The Role of Special Interest Groups”

p. 147 “Investigate a Lobby Group”

Princples and Practices of American Politics

pp. 718-740

“The Money Cutlure” by Elizabeth Drew

(Reaction Paper)

Nine-Political Parties

What is a Political Party, Functions of Political Parties, History of Political Parties in the U.S. Pig-Pie-Poe, Two-Party System, Minor Parties, Party Identification

pp. 264-300


Princples and Practices of American Politics

pp. 624-637

“Why Parties” by John H. Aldrich

(Reaction Paper)





Chapter Reading


Supplemental Reading

Ten-Campaigns, Nominations, and Elections

The People Who Run for Office, Modern Campaign Machine, Strategy for Winning, Financing the Campaign, Regulating Campaign Financing, Running for President, Electoral College, How Elections are Conducted, Voting in National, State, and Local Elections, Legal Restrictions on Voting, How do voters decide

pp. 301-345

U.S. Government Book 1 p. 251 “Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act”

pp. 252-256 “Raising Money is Easy: Winning an Election is Hard”

(Graph Interpretation)


Eleven-The Media and Cyberpolitics

Functions of the Media, History of the Media in the U.S., Impact of Television, Media and Campaigns, Media and Government, Government Regulation of Media, Public’s Right to Media Access, Media Bias

pp. 346-378


Select a current event issue that is reported on by two different print media outlets. Explain the differences in how the issue is presented to the public.





Chapter Reading


Supplemental Reading

Sixteen-Domestic and Economic Policy

Policymaking Process, Poverty and Welfare, Crime in the 21st Century, Environmental Policy, Taxes, Social Security, Fiscal and Monetary Policy, Budget Deficits and Public Debt, America and the Global Economy

pp. 518-578

U.S. Government Book 1 pp. 259-261 “The Federal Budget: Head Start, A Case Study”

pp. 268-2q69 “The Steady Growth of the Welfare State”

(Graph Interpretation)


Seventeen-Foreign and Defense Policy

National Security Policy, Diplomacy, Moral Idealism, Political Realism, Terrorism, Nuclear Proliferation, Global Economy, Regional Conflicts, Foreign Policy, Majory U.S Foreign Policy Themes

pp. 579-612



Eighteen-State and Local Governments

U.S. Constitution and State Governments, State Constitutions, Three Branches of State Governments, How Local Governments Operate, Paying for State and Local Governments.

pp. 613-641

U.S. Government, Book 2 p. 171 “Understanding State Government”

pp. 185-186 “The Functions of Local Government, City and County Concerns”



Writing Assignments


Analytical Free Response Questions

Student writing is a very big component of the Advance Placement process. Due to this, at least every other week, students will be given College Board analytical FRQs (free response questions) to be completed at home. Students will receive one week to complete the questions. These questions will prepare you for the free response section of the AP U.S. Government and Politics Exam.


Reaction Papers

As noted above in the syllabus, students are assigned reaction papers based on the supplemental readings. In these reaction papers, students should not merely give a brief summary of the reading.  As the student, you should express how the reading has impacted your understanding of American government and how it correlates to the issues being studied.


Current Events

Students are responsible for keeping up with the daily events in the nation and the world. Students will need to skim the front page of newspapers such as The State, The Augusta Chronicle, the Washington Post or Washington Times, listen to NPR or another radio news program, watch a TV news station such as CNN or Fox News, or access a reliable online source. At the end of each week, students will be chosen at random to report information found and correlate it to issues being studied in class. All students are expected to keep a short journal of their current event findings in thoughts for every week.


Cartoon Assignments

Every week as an in-class assignment, students will be given political cartoons from current newspapers and news magazines to analyze and interpret what messages the cartoonist is trying to convey to the reader. Students should use the following guidelines from the AP Central website to help analyze the cartoons:

  • What do you see? Describe the elements that are present in your cartoon: symbols, historical images, stereotypes, captions, humor, caricature. If caricature, is the cartoonist using extreme features and distorted images? Describe them.
  • What is happening in the cartoon? Are the components of the cartoon related to each other? If so, how?
  • Explain what you think the cartoonist is trying to say. What does the cartoon mean?
  • Can you think of another setting, period, or person in time to which this cartoon could apply? Explain.


Supreme Court Cases

The Supreme Court has played a vital role in shaping United States government and politics. Due to this fact, it is important for students to have a complete understanding of the many cases that are covered in this course. As we cover each case, students need to keep a case log that should include the important facts and consequences of each case in a case log. Students can use the following web addresses to help them compile their case log:




Unit Writing Questions

As a short writing exercise, students are expected to answer the following questions for each unit and turn in the day of the unit exam.

Unit One

  1. What did the U.S. Constitution include on the issue of slavery, and why did it fail to outlaw the practice?
  2. Compare and contrast direct democracy to representative democracy. What are the advantages and disadvantages of each? In what situations might a direct democracy work? When is a representative democracy more feasible?
  3. Compare and contrast the Virginia Plan and the New Jersey Plan, and show how they led to the Great Compromise (Connecticut Compromise).
  4. Compare and Contrast the concepts of Dual Federalism and Cooperative Federalism.
  5. Explain what is meant by the idea of federalism and its importance for American politics. Describe at least three ways that federalism is evident in American political life.

Unit Two

  1. Explain the controversy over bilingual education programs.
  2. Describe some of the tactics used to prevent African Americans from voting in the South in years past.
  3. When is the government able to interfere with freedom of speech?
  4. Over the years, the United States has experienced several different waves of immigration. Today, Hispanics make up a large portion of immigrants to American. What will be their impact on civil rights as they have the potential to be the largest minority in the country? How can their plight compare to that of past minority groups?

Unit Three

  1. Explain the concept of generational effect and how you think it might apply to use as your grow older.
  2. An economic protest party is an example of a type of minor party. Identify and describe the other three types of minor parties and give an example of each.
  3. Describe the incentives for joining an interest group.
  4. It is said that the relationship between the government and the media is reciprocal-that they both need each other. What factors influence the nature of the relationship between government officials and the media? Does one type of media (broadcast or print) have an advantage in its relationship with the government? If so, explain why.

Unit Four

  1. Congressional seat, at least until the 1990’s, were becoming safer, meaning more incumbents were winning reelection. Provide three explanations for this phenomenon.
  2. What is meant by the president’s role as party chief and super politician?
  3. Explain what the iron triangle model is and what impact it has on the operation of the U.S. government.
  4. List and explain the six functions of Congress.
  5. Montesquieu wrote that “There would be an end of everything, were the same man, or the same body,” to exercise executive, legislative, and judicial power. Explain fully the separation of powers, including the system of checks and balances, and how those constitutional structures protect our liberty?

Unit Five

  1. Explain the forms of direct democracy that exist at the state and local levels.
  2. Describe the different ways state and local governments raise revenue.
  3. What would be the impact school choice would have on the public school system and state governments?
  4. Compare and contrast the different local government management plans.