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Middle College
American Government Fall 2017

Mr. Michael Clardy
, San Mateo Middle College

Office: East Hall Building 17, Room 203
Office Hours: Monday-Friday: 8-9 am, 10 am - 12 pm, 1-3 pm
Office Phone: (650) 574-6468
Fax: (650) 574-6233

Each election year approximately 53% of eligible voters ages 18-25 do not vote. There are currently 27 million people in your age cohort in the United States. This means that during the 2004 election approximately 14 million 18-24 year olds did not participate in the political process. This is enough voters to decide any presidential election (Bush beat Kerry in 2004 by 3 million votes!). The policy implications of this lack of participation are enormous. Consequently, this class is designed to show you what you have at stake and how to actively assert yourself in the political process. I hope that by the end of the semester you will have a clear understanding of how to create positive change in our society.

  1. Citizen Participation in a Democracy (4 weeks)
    1. The Fourth Estate
    2. Political Parties
    3. “Special interests”
    4. Citizenship
    5. Local Governments
  2. Roots and Distribution of Power (2 weeks)
    1. Nature of Power
    2. Comparing forms of governments
    3. Roots of American democracy
  3. U.S. Constitution (2 weeks)
    1. Structure
    2. Bill of Rights/civil liberties
    3. Amending
    4. Federal system
  4. Article I (2 weeks)
    1. Legislators
    2. Structure
    3. How a bill (really) becomes a law
    4. Congressional oversight
  5. Article II (2 weeks)
    1. Qualities of a President
    2. Responsibilities
    3. The Federal bureaucracy
    4. The cabinet
  6. Article III (2 weeks)
    1. Judicial Review
    2. Judges
    3. Controversial cases
    4. Criminal justice system
  7. America In the Global Context (2 weeks)
    1. American foreign policy
    2. Global issues/treaties
    3. Non-state actors
Grades — You earn your grade. Take responsibility for this reality. The only circumstance under which I will change a grade is if the student can prove that I made a mistake. Therefore, it is extremely important that you keep retain all of your graded work. I am happy to discuss any aspect of your grade outside of class time.

Final grades in this class are based on a weighted system. Your grade will be comprised of the following percentages:
  1. Homework — 35%
    Homework must be turned in at the beginning of class the day it is due. I will NOT accept late work
  2. Tests — 35%
    These come in the form of essay, quizzes, projects, papers, etc.
  3. Final Exam — 30%

Extra Credit

There will be ample opportunities to earn extra credit. You can do so by working on a campaign, promoting a specific policy, attend meetings of public agencies, etc. Most activities that put the concepts we discuss into action should fit. Please see me before you begin to work in any of these areas so that we can agree to terms.

*No amount of extra credit can make up for failing grades. 

Grading Scale

A     >90%

B     >80%

C     >70%

F     <70%

Please note that you cannot earn D’s in this class. Therefore, anything less than a C is considered failing. 

Do’s and Don’ts

Please do the following while in class:Please do not do the following while in class:
  • Be sure that your words and actions respect every member of the class - apologize if this does not happen
  • Have a sense of humor
  • Do the homework - this will make everything much easier (this is what the “real world” calls preparation)
  • Get to class on time - I begin promptly - you may miss a quiz!
  • Leave on your cell phone - I will remove you from class if it goes off (even silently)
  • Be late - if you are, make no noise. If this is a habit, we will need to discuss the issue in private
  • Eat in class
  • Use foul language

Final Note

I thoroughly enjoy working with students your age. I appreciate your energy, your curiosity and the various challenges that you face. Please know that I am committed to helping you succeed. If I am hard on you it is because I have high expectations of the students in this program. So long as you commit to putting forth honest effort, I will give you all the support I can.