Government Syllabus


Mr. Gonzales

Welcome!   This syllabus will help you the student and your parents become familiar with the course and what to expect. 

My Philosophy:  

1.       All students can learn. They may learn in different ways, but all can and should be successful in my classroom.

2.       For America to succeed our young people must be independent thinkers, well informed of our government’s founding, laws, liberties, and structure.  They must then practice being active democratic citizens so that they may either lead our country, or pick the right leaders to represent our country at the city, county, state, and national levels.
 I also believe that for America to succeed Americans must take pride in our work. This is one thing I will try to teach your child. All jobs/careers are important and have great value. It is not so much in what we do, but in how much pride we take in doing it.

3.       To have low expectations is the worst form of prejudice.  I have high expectations for all of my students.

4.   I hate to fail, ergo if you fail part of me fails, we are in this TOGETHER I am here to guide you to success not block you from it. 

Course Text and Resources:


Edwards, Government in America: People Politics and Policy, 13th edition

Course Supplemental Readings:

Serwo and Ladd; The Lanahan Reading in the American Polity, 4th edition,

*As well as other readings provided by instructor from multiple sources.

Course Online: Each student will need to register and create an account at mypoliscilab: student access code is:    ssnast-milli-comic-aswan-aneto-tries   .    Further instruction on this process will be done the first day of class.


Course Overview:

Content Area Percentage Goals of Exam- (multiple-choice section)

I. Constitutional Underpinnings of United States Government........................ 5–15%

A. Considerations that influenced the formulation and adoption of the Constitution

B. Separation of powers

C. Federalism

D. Theories of democratic government

II. Political Beliefs and Behaviors....................................................................... 10–20%

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.

III. Political Parties, Interest Groups, and Mass Media.................................. 10–20%

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 media

2. The impacts of media on politics

IV. Institutions of National Government: The Congress, the Presidency,

the Bureaucracy, and the Federal Courts........................................................... 35–45%

A. The major formal and informal institutional arrangements of power

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. Sub-national governments

V. Public Policy.................................................................................................... 5–15%

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

VI. Civil Rights and Civil Liberties...................................................................... 5–15%

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.

Mr. Gonzales’ Policies


 This will be done on a points basis, each assignment will have a designated amount of points.  For example an FRQ writing might be out of 20 points, a simulation might be  worth 100 points, a test will always be out of a 100 points etc… The point values of assignments will be shown on the unit sheets passed out before the start of each unit.

Students are evaluated in several ways:

1. Multiple-choice tests—Questions are garnered from past AP Exams and from Multiple-Choice and Free-Response Questions in Preparation for the AP United States Government and Politics Examination.

2. Free-Response Questions (FRQ’s)—25-minute questions done in class based on the topic being covered.  These FRQ’s will be taken from past AP exams.

3. Special projects assigned in the middle part of the course.

4. Homework assignments—Study questions are assigned on readings as well as chapter     study guides.

5. Class Participation- debates and topics for discussion will happen frequently in class, each student will be asked to contribute to these debates and discussions.

Late Work:

It will not be accepted, this is a college level course with college level expectations. As you venture into the world of college you will find most professors don’t give a crap if your dog ate your homework or if you were sick for a week they still expect work to be done correctly and on time.  To prepare you for this I will have the same expectations with few exceptions (ie. death in family).

AP Exam Format (taken from the AP College Board Website):

The AP United States Government and Politics Exam has two sections. In the first section, students have 45 minutes to answer 60 multiple-choice questions. In the second section, students have 100 minutes to complete four free-response questions. Each section counts for half of the overall score.

Multiple-Choice Section

AP U.S. Government and Politics multiple-choice questions have five options (labeled A through E) from which students choose. When the exam is scored, students earn one point for each correct answer, minus a quarter point for each incorrect answer. No points are added or subtracted for a blank answer. Since there are 60 questions, the highest possible score on the multiple-choice section is 60; that is, if a student gives 40 correct answers and 20 incorrect answers, his or her score will be 40 – (20 × 0.25), or 35. If the

20 incorrect answers had been left blank, the score would have been 40. This ensures that students do not benefit from random guessing. Teachers may wish to use a similar grading scheme during the school year to demonstrate to students the impact of guessing on the exam (I will do this).

The multiple-choice section is challenging because most of the questions are not simple definitions or identification of facts but rather require students to apply their knowledge. It is likely, for example, that students will have several multiple-choice questions that are based on table interpretation. Students will be asked to interpret the data presented and may need to use outside knowledge to explain what they see.

Free-Response Section

Students will have 100 uninterrupted minutes to answer four questions on the free-response section of the exam. They are encouraged to budget their time on their own, though the suggested time is 25 minutes per question. The four free-response questions are all weighted equally in determining half of the student’s overall score. Some required skills, such as writing answers to free-response questions (discussed below), are unique to this exam. 
You will want to prepare students for success on this exam, but you should also consider teaching additional skills that will help students in the future. Although I focus primarily on test taking skills and strategies in this chapter, your course should not exclude the development of other useful skills.

Course Pacing:

We will have 58 class days to prepare for 87 class days of material.  The exam will be taken on the first Monday of May, so as you can imagine there will be a lot to cover in a short period of time. However, I will NOT sacrifice the love of knowledge and exploration into the concepts and topics covered just for the sake of passing a test.
  So if your only objective for taking the class is to get a four or five on the exam I would ask you to find another AP class in which you can accomplish this.  Students who will benefit most from this class are those who already have an interest in the course material and some previous aptitude for politics.

Before each unit students will be given a unit outline that will consist of all topics covered in the unit, all outside reading assignments to be completed with the date of completion, projects and simulations for the unit, discussion and debate topics, as well as FRQ writing days and unit exam day for the unit.


I look forward to all students being excited to learn and work hard, completing all assignments on time, and having lots of fun!

            “It’s the hard that makes it great; if it wasn’t hard everyone would do it!”

                                                                        Tom Hanks- A League of Their Own