West Valley College Fall 2017

AMERICAN GOVERNMENT
POLI SCI 1 (3 Units)
Sec. 70235 (T/Th 12:30-1:55 pm), Room LASS 26

Tim Kelly, Ph.D.
Office Hours:  M/W/Th 2:00-2:45 and by appt.
Office SS/LA 1E
Ph: (408)741-2546

WELCOME!!!!!

Why do millions of Americans not vote?  Why is it that the winner of the popular vote for President can also be the loser?  Is there really a difference between Democrats and Republicans?  Do we really need 50 state governments if we have one national government?  Why was there a recall election in California?  Don't know much about American politics?  Then welcome to Poli Sci 1!

Poli Sci 1 covers the structure and functions of the American national state and local governments.  Emphasis is placed on the development of democratic institutions through historical and contemporary studies.  Students will have an opportunity to understand what has shaped the United States Constitution, its amendments, major court interpretations, the operation of and one's role in democratic government.  This course may be used to meet the Social Science I or II requirement in the General Education Pattern for transfer to the California State University system.

Additional topics this course will explore are the following:

Required Texts

General Class Policies

  1. Cell phones and computers must be turned off in the classroom (NO texting in class).
  2. Save this syllabus as evidence for transfer to a four-year institution.
  3. Class participation and COMPLETING THE ASSIGNED READING by the beginning of each topic are essential to passing this course.
  4. Late work is marked down 1/3 of a grade for each day that it is handed in late after the end of class when it is due.
  5. Tutoring is available at no charge at Tutorial Services.  It is provided by qualified, trained, students who have been recommended by the faculty.  Contact Tutorial Services in the Library Building or call 741-2038.
  6. Quizzes may be administered by the Instructor without warning if he feels students are not keeping up with the readings.  Incorrect answers will be deducted from a student's overall participation grade.
  7. Plagiarism/cheating will result in automatic failures and offenders will be referred to the CSSO for disciplinary action.  Familiarize yourself with the campus policy on cheating detailed in the College Catalog under Student Conduct Code, 5.8.19 Policy on Cheating.  (You will find examples of what plagiarism is and how to avoid it at http://www.indiana.edu/~wts/wts/plagiarism.html)
  8. West Valley College makes reasonable accommodations for persons with documented disabilities. College materials will be available in alternate formats (Braille, audio, electronic format, or large print) upon request.  Please contact the Disability and Educational Support Program at (408) 741-2010 (voice) or (408) 741-2658 (TTY) for assistance.
  9. Student Learning Outcome:  During Week 15, students will access Canvas to answer 25 multiple choice questions representing the breadth of American government topics covered in the course. 

Pass/No Pass Option

Students can no longer take Politics 1 with the Pass/No Pass grade option.

Attendance Policy

Per the WVC Catalog (see Rights and Responsibilities), regular attendance is mandatory.  Punctuality is also important; therefore roll will be taken at the beginning of the class.  Students will receive a 1 point reduction from their total grade for each tardy.  More than one absence will constitute a reduction of 2 points for each additional absence.  Students missing more than 5 classes in a row before the final drop date may be dropped unless they notify the instructor.

Web Page

A class web page can be found for Poli Sci 1 at Canvas.  This page contains the syllabus, lecture outlines, PowerPoint lectures, on-line readings, and Study Guides for the Midterm and Final Exam.  This web page serves as a supplement to the lectures and in-class discussions, not as a substitute.    NOTE:  As a budget saving measure, lecture outlines will NOT be passed out in class.  STUDENTS SHOULD PRINT OUT THE OUTLINES BEFORE LECTURE.

Paper

You have two assignments that you must complete during the semester.  First, you have one homework assignment in which you will research a political party and explain your choice as to why you wish to be a member of it for class activity purposes.  (Throughout the semester, students will meet in caucus to debate issues brought before the class.  Elections will also be held for party leaders and a President.)  This homework is worth 50 points. (Click HERE for the assignment.)  You also are required to turn in one 4-4.5 page paper analyzing the debates presented in the online readings.  This paper is 250 points and is explained in more detail in a separate handout.  (Click HERE to read about the paper requirements.) 

Quizzes

Your two quizzes over the semester will be conducted on Canvas rather than in class.  These multiple-choice quizzes cover the textbook readings (Chapters 1-4 for Quiz 1, and Chapters 7-11 for Quiz 2).  (Click HERE for more instructions, as well as how to log on to Canvas.) 

Class Participation

Class Participation is essential to the success of this class.  We will be holding a Mock Congress in which students are expected to participate.  Class Participation points will be awarded on the basis of how well individual students perform their duties and complete in-class assignments.

Course Requirements

Grading Policy:   Grades are awarded on a Standard Scale:

1. Political Party Paper
2. Essay
3. Two Quizzes
4. Midterm Exam
5. Final examination
6. Class Participation
(50 pts)
(250 pts)
(50 pts)
(250 pts)
(350 pts)
(50 pts)


C
D
F
1000 - 900
899 - 800
799 - 700
699 - 600
599 and below

Dates to Remember

9/05:
9/10:
9/28-9/30:
10/05:
Political Party Paper Due
Last Day to Drop w/out a "W"
Quiz #1 Available
Paper Optional Due Date
10/10:
11/16-18:
11/16:

11/18:
MIDTERM
Quiz #2 Available
Paper Mandatory Due Date
Last Day to Drop w/a "W"

FINAL EXAM:  Thursday, December 14, 11:50-1:50 pm


Course Outline

Week 1

8/29
8/31
What is American Politics?
Contemporary Issues in California Politics


Readings:
  Text, Ch 1; ONLINE:  Howard Zinn, How Democratic Is America?; Sidney Hook, A Response to Howard Zinn; Michael Blood, California GOP Showing Worries Party Strategists


Week 2

9/05
9/07
Discussion and Catch-up
The U.S. Constitution:  Rules of the Political Game 


Readings:
  Text, Ch 2

9/05
9/10
Political Party Paper Due
LAST DAY TO DROP W/OUT A "W"


Week 3

9/12
9/14
American Federalism:  Eighty-Seven Thousand Governments
Readings:  Ch 3; ONLINE:  Robert Brown, Charles Beard and the Constitution:  A Critical Analysis (Brown will be discussed on Tuesday).


Week 4

9/19
9/21
Civil Liberties in America
Readings:  Text, Ch 4; ONLINE:  Criminal Rights (Gavzer vs. Kilwein)(pdf)


Week 5

9/26
9/28
The Politics of Civil Rights
QUIZ #1 (Text, Chs 1-5) (Available online at Canvas from 9/28-9/30 until 11:59 pm).

Readings:  Text, Ch  5; ONLINE:  Birthright Citizenship:  Is it the Right Policy for the U.S.? (Jon Feere, NO vs. J. Richard Cohen, YES - pdf)


Week 6

10/03
10/05
Public Opinion and Political Socialization



10/05
Readings:  Text, Ch 6; ONLINE:  Frank Newport, Polling Matters (pdf); Robert Weissberg, Leaders Should Not Follow Public Opinion Polls

PAPER OPTIONAL DUE DATE


Week 7

10/10
10/12
MIDTERM
Political Parties in
America



Readings:
  Text, Ch 8 


Week 8

10/17
10/19
Interest Group Politics
Readings:  Text, Ch 7; ONLINE:  Ronald Dworkin, The Decision That Threatens Democracy; Ira Glasser, Understanding the Citizens United Ruling


Week 9

10/24
10/26
Campaigns and Elections in America
Readings:    Text, Ch 9; ONLINE:  Voter ID Laws {Chandler Davidson, The Historical Context of Voter Photo-ID Laws; Hans von Spakovsky, Requiring Identification by Voters (pdf)}; Matt Bai, How Much Has Citizens United Changed the Political Game? (pdf)


Week 10

10/31
11/02
The Media and Politics
Readings:  Text, Ch 10;ONLINE:  


Week 11

11/07
11/09
Congressional Politics

Readings:   Text, Ch 11;  ONLINE:  Congressional Representation readings [Trustee, Delegate and Politico (pdf)]


Week 12

11/14
11/16
Presidential Politics
Readings:   Text, Ch 12; ONLINE:  Bush Quietly Undercuts Laws With Bill-Signing Statement (SJ Mercury News); Signing Statement Study Says Administration Has Ignored Laws (Washington Post); Obama Signing Statement:  "Despite Law, I Can Do What I Want On Czars" (The Daily Caller)


11/16
11/18

QUIZ #2 (Text, Chs 7-12) (Available online at Canvas from 11/16-11/18 until 11:59 pm).
REQUIRED PAPER DUE DATE (if you did not exercise the optional date) 
LAST DAY TO DROP w/a "W"


Week 13

11/21
11/23
The Federal Judiciary
HOLIDAY - TURKEY DAY
Readings:   Text, Ch 14; ONLINE:  Edwin Meese, The Great Debate:  A Jurisprudence of Original Intention; Irving Kaufman, What Did the Founding Fathers Intend?


Week 14

11/28
11/30
Bureaucratic Politics
Readings:  Text, Ch 13; ONLINE:  Wedel, Federalist No. 70:  Where Does the Public Service Begin and End? (pdf); Cato Handbook for Policymakers, Privatization (pdf)


Week 15

12/05
12/07
Politics and American Foreign Policy
Catch-up and Discussion


12/07-09

Readings:
  Text, Ch 16; ONLINESestanovich, "The Brilliant Incoherence of Trump's Foreign Policy"
EXTRA CREDIT:  Student Learning Outcome Quiz on Canvas (closes Saturday at 11:59 pm)

FINAL EXAM:  Thursday, December 14, 11:50-1:50 pm