United States Government and Politics
Angela Rippee, Instructor
Social Studies Office Phone: 936-273-8541
The goals of this course are to increase understanding of the American political
system, its framework, traditions and values, and to have each student pass the
AP Exam. This course is concerned with the nature of the American political
systems, its development over the past two hundred years, and how it worked in
the last years of the twentieth century and in the opening of the new millennium.
We will examine in detail the principal processes and institutions through which
the political system functions, as well as some of the public policies that these
Textbook: Edwards, Wattenburg, and Lineberry, Government in America. Tenth
The textbook has a website with online self help review quizzes:
Readings: Brudney, Kent M., Critical Thinking and American Government.
Harcourt Brace College Publishers. 1998. Selections will be provided.
Major grades are 60% of the nine-week average. Major grades consist of unit or
chapter tests, projects, book reviews, and presentations. Tests will be given in
the AP exam-testing format with multiple-choice questions and timed free-
Daily grades are 40% of the nine-week average. Daily grades consist of daily
class work, warm-ups, homework, quizzes, readings, activities, film-reviews, and
current events. Quizzes given are often open note and seldom announced.
Quizzes could cover readings, homework, or notes.
Make-up work: The student is responsible for all missed work because of
absences, and will be permitted one day to make up work for each day of the
excused absence. The responsibility for completing make-up tests rest entirely
with the students. It is the student’s responsibility to get make-up work from the
teacher after an absence. Tests and quizzes must be made up within one week
of the student’s absence. Students will complete make-up tests by appointment.
If this is not accomplished, the result will be a zero for that test or quiz. The
make-up tests will be different from the originals.
The Advanced Placement National Exam will be administered at TWHS on May 4,
2009 by the administration staff. The AP United States Government and Politics
Exam is 2 hours and 25 minutes long. It includes a 45-minute multiple-choice
section consisting of 60 questions and a 100-minute free-response section
consisting of 4 questions.
Students are expected to maintain complete honesty and integrity in academic
pursuits. Any student found to be dishonest in any phase of academic work in
this class will be subject to disciplinary action. Academic dishonesty includes, but
is not limited to: cheating on an exam, quiz, or any other academic work that is
submitted; plagiarism: collusion; and the abuse of resource materials.
Remember, sharing quiz and test information with a student who has not yet
taken that particular quiz or test is cheating.
Students are required to purchase the following study book for AP Government:
Barron’s: How to Prepare for the AP U.S. Government and Politics
This needs to be brought to class by the end of the second week of
class. Copies are available for purchase in the school library.
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 the Houston Chronicle,
Washington Post, Washington Times, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, etc.,
listen to a radio news program, watch a TV news show such as CNN, or access a
reliable online source. As assigned students will need to turn in a one-page paper
outlining and describing a current event; you must include the source, date of
article, brief summary of the information and any connections to what we are
currently studying. Students must be prepared to discuss current events in class
Basic Topics by Unit
Unit 1: Constitutional Underpinnings of American Government
Edwards—Government in America Chapter’s 1, 2 and 3
1. What is politics?
2. What is power and how is it exercised effectively?
3. What are the origins of American government?
4. What type of government was established at the Constitutional
Convention of 1789?
5. How was our government shaped by the historical situation at the time
and the philosophical tradition that influenced the framers of the
Unit 2: Institutions of National Government; The Congress, the
Presidency, and the Bureaucracy
Edwards—Government in America Chapters 12, 13, 14, and 15
1. What are the institutions and policy-making processes of the national
2. What are the links between the branches of the national government,
political parties, interest groups, public opinion, the media, and state and
Unit 3: The Federal Courts, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties
Edwards—Government in America Chapter’s 16, 4, and 5
1. What are the basic civil rights and liberties of Americans?
2. How have significant decisions of the Supreme Court affected our basic
3. What are the strengths and weaknesses of court decisions as instruments
of social change?
Unit 4: Political Beliefs and Behaviors
Edwards—Government in America Chapter’s 6, 9, and 10
1. Why do Americans believe what they do about politics and what role do
families, schools, and media play in the changing or perpetuating of these
2. In what ways do Americans participate in their political system?
3. How does participation vary among various racial, ethnic and
socioeconomic groups in the nation?
Unit 5: Political Parties and Interest Groups and Mass Media
Edwards—Government in America Chapter’s 7, 8, and 11
1. Through what mechanisms do citizens organize and communicate their
interests to governments?
2. How have political parties developed, how are they organized, and what
effect do they have on the political process?
3. What are interest groups and how do they affect the political process?
Unit 6: Public Policy
Edwards—Government in America Chapter’s 17, 18, 19, and 20
1. How do the three branches of government interact to create public policy?
2. What role does the bureaucracy play in the creation and implementation
of public policy?
3. How do PACs, interest groups, political parties, public opinion and the
media effect public policy?