Government & Contemporary Issues

Government & Contemporary Issues


American Government & Contemporary Issues


Welcome to Government/Contemporary Issues.   This class will explore the events and trends that contribute to the national, international, state, and local political and social environments.  Throughout the course, you are expected to stay current on global affairs outside of class.  You may do this in a number of ways including:


  • Read the Seattle Times, New York Times, Washington Post, or another major newspaper each day
  • Watch the national news produced by ABC, CBS, or NBC each day
  • Watch the cable news programs produced by CNN, MSNBC, or Fox
  • Listen to radio broadcasts such as the BBC or NPR


Course Breakdown:


American Government:

This Course will help you better understand our democratic institutions and see how the U.S. Constitution has allowed our government to operate for more than 200 years. Framers of the Constitution wanted this government to be based on the will and the rights of the people living under it. Democratic society is based on a need to balance the rule of government and the rights of the individuals. The Constitution provides citizens with the information they need, about their rights and about what they may reasonably expect of their government. The success of this system of government depends on informed and knowledgeable citizens. For a democratic system to survive citizens must take an active role in governmentThis class will inform you and prepare you to participate in government. It is through decision – making and participation on your part that will lead our country on a bright path for the future. This year we will study the basic structure of our democratic system and learn the essential responsibility of citizens of the United States to participate in our governmental process, to protect individual rights and help our nation grow.


Contemporary Issues

This portion of the class will focus on the geopolitical and historical environments that surround the major issues of the day.   What one reads in the newspaper or watches on the evening news is only the proverbial tip of the iceberg with regards to the event at hand.  In order to make a truly informed decision regarding major world events, a historical, social, and economic perspective must be employed to wholly understand the underpinnings of the issue.  Unless one address all these underlying interconnected issues, one is limited to half truths.   This portion of the course encourages the development of a variety of skills.  Practice in negotiation, compromise, working in teams, and problem solving is combined with listening, public speaking, thinking and reading critically, and writing.  In addition, efficient time-management and the ability to work independently are expected from all students.  Research plays an important role in this portion of the course. Traditional and electronic sources, as well as solicitation of materials from international, national, and non-governmental sources are all used to gather information.




  • Daily assignments, projects, and tests 80%
  • Participation in classroom discussions and activities: 20%


Late Work:

Late work will be accepted for half credit up to two weeks prior to the last day of each quarter unless otherwise notified.


Guidelines for Classroom Discussion:

As seniors, I expect that you will all behave in an adult manner.  Students should look for a chance to air their own views, hear their opponents' views, and examine both.  In order to foster an environment conducive to debate, the following rules must be followed:

  • Everyone should listen respectfully to others.
  • The person who is speaking should not be interrupted.
  • No more than one person should speak at a time.
  • No one’s ideas should be made fun of.
  • Argue ideas, not personalities or prejudices.
  • Represent the opposing positions fairly and accurately.
  • If you disagree with someone, disagree with their ideas, but don’t attack the person.
  • Try to understand the others perspective, as much as you hope they try to understand you.
  • Students have the right to disagree with or qualify or challenge another student’s statements or opinions, but they must do so in a respective manner.


Behavioral Expectations:

All students have the right to be educated in a positive learning environment free from disruptions.  To achieve this, students are expected to be courteous and abide by all district, school, and classroom rules. 


Discipline Plan


A.      Classroom Rules:

·         Students should be prepared, always bring supplies including books, paper, pen/pencil, notebook, and assignments.

·         Cell phones and any other form of electronic communication are prohibited during class time.  This is your warning – If one is heard or seen you will loose all of your participation points for the day.  If it heard or seen again, it will be confiscated for the remainder of the day.

·         Class will begin on time.  Students who are not in class and ready to begin when class starts will be marked tardy.

·         Students are expected to be responsible and accountable for their own actions.

·         Students should treat others as they would like to be treated.


B.       Consequences:

·         Verbal warning, request to change behavior

·         Loss of daily participation points

·         Change in seating arrangement

·         Removal from class, family notification, or detention

·         Serious classroom disruptions will result in immediate referral to the office.


This class explores ideas that may and may be construed as controversial.  Occasionally topics will be discussed that some may find offensive.  Topic will include but are not limited to overpopulation, lack of education, contamination of resources, imperialism, crime, war, nutrition, human rights, disease, poverty, the breakdown of morality, and economic woes.  Various films may be showed in class such as Bowling for Columbine, Supers Size Me, Tough Guise, the Frontline Series from PBS, and others.  These videos are used for educational purposes to promote critical thinking about global issues.  Some films in this class may depict violent acts or profanity, and because of this, be Rated R.  In addition to this, there will be a politics through music assignment they may expose students to explicit lyrics.   If you have any question or wish to exclude your child from these assignments, please contact me, and alternative assignments will be provided.