Course Outline AP U.S. Government and Politics

Course Outline AP U.S. Government and Politics
Unit 4 Public Policy 5–15%
Weeks 10,11
A. Policymaking in a federal system
B. The formation of policy agendas
C. The role of institutions in the enactment of policy
D. The role of the bureaucracy and the courts in policy implementation and interpretation
E. Linkages between policy processes and the following:
1. Political institutions and federalism
2. Political parties
3. Interest groups
4. Public opinion
5. Elections
6. Policy networks
Chapters that cover this:
Chapter 16: Public Policy in the United States
This chapter addresses the following issues: How do values shape the nature of policies and
solutions? Why are there three main types of public policies? Are all the parts of the policy process
equally open to political influence? Why doesn't the policy process model have an exact fit with
real-world policy making?
Chapter 17: Making Economic Policy
This chapter addresses the following issues: What are the basic differences between fiscal policy and
monetary policy? Who are the major actors in creating economic policy? What are the major sources
of U.S. government revenue? What are the major areas of expenditure for the government? What are
the major instruments of monetary policy? Why has there been a turn away from regulatory policy in
the recent past? How does trade policy affect the economy?
Chapter 18: Foreign and National Security Policy
This chapter addresses the following issues: What key divisions separate Americans in their thinking
about foreign policy? In what ways are American foreign and domestic policy linked? How can the public
express itself in foreign policy-making? What political institutions compete for influence in making
American foreign policy? what major issues confront the United States today?
Unit 6 Institutions of National Government: The
Congress, the Presidency, the Bureaucracy, and the
Federal Courts 35–45%
Weeks 15,16,17,18,19
*Week 20 = Exam Week
A. The major formal and informal institutional arrangements of power
*Chapter 7 includes the Model Congress Project.
B. Relationships among these four institutions and varying balances of power
C. Linkages between institutions and the following:
1. Public opinion and voters
2. Interest groups
3. Political parties
4. The media
5. State and local governments
Chapters that cover this:
Chapter 4: The Judiciary
This chapter addresses the following issues: How are American court systems organized? What makes American
judges more powerful than those in other countries? What political processes determine the selection of judges? What
do we know about how Supreme Court justices really make decisions? What litigation strategies are employed in the
court pathway? What is the image of the courts in the United States? Is it appropriate for judges to shape public policy in a
democracy?
Chapter 7: Congress
This chapter addresses the following issues: How should legislators approach their job as a representative of the
people? How does the Constitution define the role of the national legislature in American Politics? How do
congressional committees help structure the legislative process? How do political parties and legislative leaders
help manage the process while a the same time advancing their own initiatives? How do rules and norms of behavior
help ensure a more orderly, efficient legislative process? How are laws made? How well does the membership of the
House and Senate reflect average Americans? Why might this issue matter? Are members of Congress more or less
ethical than in the past?
Chapter 8: The Presidency
This chapter addresses the following issues: Why did the framers set aside concerns about the potential for
abuse and bestow the executive branch with real powers? What are the changes that have led to the expansion
of presidential powers? How might the "powers to persuade" extend beyond the Constitution and formal
structures of government? What are the duties, responsibilities, and functions of modern presidents? What are
the forces that lead to presidential success or failure? How does one define presidential greatness?
Chapter 9: Bureaucracy
This chapter addresses the following issues: Is there a risk that the federal government will become too
large and ineffective as new agencies are created to handle policy matters that attract the interest of
Congress and the President? Should the heads of federal agencies be the nation's top experts and
managers, or should they be political appointees who will loyally follow the president's wishes? Is there a
better way to organize and run government agencies in order to reduce the undesirable aspects of
bureaucracies? How can the president and members of the president's cabinet make sure that workers
within the government's many agencies are performing their duties properly?
Unit 2 Political Parties, Interest
Groups, and Mass Media 10–20%
Weeks 4,5,6,7
A. Political parties and elections
1. Functions
2. Organization
3. Development
4. Effects on the political process
5. Electoral laws and systems
B. Interest groups, including political action committees (PACs)
1. The range of interests represented
2. The activities of interest groups
3. The effects of interest groups on the political process
4. The unique characteristics and roles of PACs in the political process
C. The mass media
1. The functions and structures of the news media
2. The impacts of the news media on politics
3. The news media industry and its consequences
Chapters that cover this:
Chapter 11: The Politics of the Media
This chapter addresses the following issues: How important are the media in
American politics? How have the media changed and developed? What functions do
the media perform in our society? How influential are the media in interpreting and
framing news stories? How do the media shape and reflect our cultural values and
struggles? How can we negotiate the delicate balance between the need for
governmental regulation and the desire for a vigorous and free press?
Chapter 13: Interest Groups
This chapter addresses the following issues: Why are interest groups important in the
democratic process? Why have we seen such a dramatic increase in the number and activity
of interest groups during the last 40 years? How have the tactics of appealing to public
officials changed? How do interest groups mobilize the masses? Are interest groups
helpful for democracy?
Chapter 14: Elections and Participation in America
This chapter addresses the following issues: What are the theoretical strengths and
limitations of elections? What is the Electoral College, and is it really the best way to elect a
president? Have numerous legal changes broadened the democratic character of elections in
America? Should citizens be allowed to vote on policy matters? Does money corrupt the
election process, or is it simply a way for citizens to express their political views and support
particular candidates? How has the Internet changed the election process? Do average
Americans, especially young Americans, take part in the election process?
Chapter 15: Political Parties
This chapter addresses the following issues: How are political parties different than other
political organizations, and what functions do they serve in a democracy? Are political
parties important once a candidate gets in office? What does "party identification" imply,
and what bearing does this have on vote choice? What are party "committees", and what do
they seek to accomplish? How have political parties shifted and changed throughout our
nation's history? What role do minor parties play in our political system? Are there real
differences between the two major parties? How do political parties select their candidates?
Unit 3 Political Beliefs and Behaviors
10–20%
Weeks 8,9
A. Beliefs that citizens hold about their government and its leaders
B. Processes by which citizens learn about politics
C. The nature, sources, and consequences of public opinion
D. The ways in which citizens vote and otherwise participate in political life
E. Factors that influence citizens to differ from one another in terms of political beliefs and behaviors
Chapters that cover this:
Chapter 10: Political Socialization and Public Opinion
This chapter addresses the following issues: How influential should public opinion be in swaying
policymakers and individuals in our society? What factors promote stability, and why and how does
public opinion change? What is political ideology? What factors influence how people acquire
political values? How does membership in different social groups impact political views and
behavior? What factors affect the quality and usefulness of poll data?
Chapter 12: Civic and Political Engagement
This chapter addresses the following issues: How have activism and protest evolved in the
United States? Why is it important to understand the roots of activism in order to understand
contemporary issues? What Constitutional foundations allow citizens to petition their
government? What elements of our governmental system helped facilitate early social
movements? What obstacles did they face? What social and political movements emerged in
the United States as industrialization peaked? What central values and actions do modern
social movements have in common? How do they differ? How much support exists to allow
those of all opinions to petition government and their fellow citizens? Are people disengaged
from politics, or are their patterns of involvement changing?
Unit 1 Constitutional
Underpinnings of United States
Government 5–15%
Weeks 1,2,3
AP Topics Covered
A. Considerations that influenced the formulation and adoption of the Constitution
B. Separation of powers
C. Checks and balances
D. Federalism
E. Theories of democratic government
Chapters that cover this:
Chapter 2: Early Governance and the Constitutional Framework
This chapter addresses the following issues: What is the difference between government and politics? How
does who is allowed to participate, and how decisions are made, shape the nature of government? How did
early politics set the stage for the American Revolution? What were the core principles of the American
Revolution? Why did the Articles of Confederation fail? How did compromises at the Constitutional
Convention shape our political system? What are the core principles of the American Constitution? How did
the struggle over ratification of the Constitution and other events in the early days help structure the nature of
our democracy?
Pages 31-62
Chapter 3: Federalism
This chapter addresses the following issues: What are the advantages and disadvantages of dividing authority
between layers of government? How did the Constitution divide power between national and state government? How
do economic and social changes impact federalism? How has federalism changed in recent decades?
Pages 71-94
Unit 5 Civil Rights and Civil Liberties -
5–15%
Weeks 12,13,14
A. The development of civil liberties and civil rights by judicial interpretation
B. Knowledge of substantive rights and liberties
C. The impact of the Fourteenth Amendment on the constitutional development of rights and liberties
Chapters that cover this:
Chapter 5: Civil Liberties
This chapter addresses the following issues: Why does the Bill of Rights protect individuals against
actions by state government? How are the two dimensions of freedom of religion under the First
Amendment different from each other? How "free" is free speech in the United States? Is there any
justification for government-imposed limitations on written words or artistic and photographic
images? Why does the Bill of Rights provide protections for criminal suspects? Does the Bill of Rights
provide enough legal protections to make sure that only guilty people receive criminal punishment?
Why is the right to privacy controversial?
Chapter 6: Civil Rights
This chapter addresses the following issues: What conception of equality is most appropriate as the goal of the
governing system in the United States? How have the developments of American history led us to where we
currently stand with respect to civil rights and equality? Why have litigation strategies been successful in
challenging discrimination at some moments in history but not others? Has the U.S. Supreme Court interpreted
the equal protection clause too broadly, narrowly, or in an appropriate way? What factors influenced the
development and impact of civil rights grassroots mobilization? How have the civil rights struggles of women
and Latinos differed from those of African Americans? Why are there continued debates, lawsuits, and
protests about civil rights in the 21st Century?
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