Monday, April 22, 2013

Government: Public Participation

Changes in public policy in the United States have often been the result of changes in American culture and values. New laws and policies have been written as a result of changes in attitudes toward voting rights, segregation, prohibition, affirmative action, citizenship and immigration, and minority rights, etc.

It is sometimes the Supreme Court that mandates changes in public policy. One such case is the case of Brown v. the Board of Education of Topeka, which required the nation to integrate its public schools and ended the long-held doctrine of separate, but equal facilities for blacks and whites in the public schools.

Please read the handouts on Racial Inequality (Public Education, Affirmative Action, & In the Courtroom). Answer the questions for each section.

Some vocabulary to familiarize yourself with before the reading...
  • plaintiff – person who brings a lawsuit against another
  • respondent – person who is being sued
  • separate but equal doctrine – laws allowing separate facilities for blacks and whites as long as the facilities were equal; established in the case of Plessy  v. Ferguson (1896)
  • objective factors (in measuring segregation’s effect in schools) – things which can be measured, such as number of books, condition of buildings, number of teachers
  • subjective factors – things which are difficult to measure such as reputation of faculty, prestige of a degree from a particular school, reputation of graduates, networking
  • affirmative action - policies that required active measures be taken to ensure that blacks and other minorities enjoyed the same opportunities for promotions, salary increases, career advancement, school admissions, scholarships, and financial aid that had been the nearly exclusive province of whites

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Government: Comparative Government research project

This project is designed to have you research and report on the basic governmental system of an existing foreign nation. The information will be used by you and the class to compare and contrast governmental systems worldwide, and to draw conclusions about the purpose of government in general.  

Directions:1.  Pick a foreign country.  Get Teacher approval.
3   Identify the type of government your country has. 
  • Find out if it has a constitution. If it does not, find out how it functions without one.
  • Identify the structure of the government based on its constitution (or other framework):
    • Does it have one or several branches? 
    • What are they? 
    • What are they called?
    • What are their functions?
4.  Identify political parties:
  •   How many are there?
  •   What are they called (translate into English)?
  •   What do the major ones represent (i.e., business, farming, military, socialism,
       communism, etc.)?
  • How do these parties shape government outcomes?
  • Do they have seats in a congress (or a representative body) & how many?
5.  Gather any related information about your country -- its population, economic
     productivity, social structures, etc., that would help to explain your country's
     government, its governmental functions and its parties.
6.  Identify the type of government
     your country has -- is it a democracy or a dictatorship? Is it unitary, federal,
     parliamentary, presidential, or what?
7.  Lastly, find an article that indicates how this government works in actual practice.
     Many governments look good on paper, but are different in practice.


Prepare a short (10-15 minute per group) oral report based on your research and present to the class.  Your job is to teach the class.  Your presentation should include a Display Poster (or optional PowerPoint presentation) that includes: map of country, diagram of governmental structure, number of political parties, list of main parties and what they represent, basic population structure of country, main industries and occupations, plus a current event exhibit or document that demonstrates some aspect of government in action.  Make your display and oral report clear (and large) enough so that the rest of the class can take notes easily and use your information on a future test.

Your grade will be based on the quality of your information, your understanding of the information, the clarity of your presentation, as well as sother hand-in requirements.