AP.jpgAP Government and Politics Summer Web Assignment

Welcome! The purpose of any AP class is to give you content at an accelerated or “college level” pace. Whether you are taking this course for “kicks” (upperclassmen) or for original credit (Sophomores), this summer reading assignment will help you get introduced to the subject matter, refresh what you already know in American history, and provide a window into the level of work that will be involved next school year in the course.

This is a REQUIRED assignment that will represent 40 points toward your grade for the first marking period in Mr. Freccia’s class. Read them now so you don't have to cram it all in over Memorial Day weekend! (The due date for the entire assignment will be announced in August).

The assignment, will be due the first day of classes and must be typed, and in complete sentences. Each week on Friday, Mr. Freccia will post a current event article from a major newspaper (like the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal) or magazine (Time or Newsweek) along with a question to answer.

Your answer should be a paragraph in length (5 to 6 sentences) and use information from the article in answering it. Check back on this page throughout the summer for new articles. I look forward to discussing it with you this fall...see you then!

The Articles and Questions:

  1. June 22nd: My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant (New York Times Magazine, 6/26/2011)
    • One of the big "hot button" issues we will talk about this year is immigration given it's political, economic, and social significance. For a country born (and maintained) via immigration, the government has walked a fine line throughout our history in limiting who could enter. Since the 1920s, the United States has limited the amount of immigrants allowed to enter legally which creates the illegal immigration problem (and the side problem) that this article details. Check out this graphic for an idea about how hard it is to immigrate legally AND become a citizen.
    • In the following article by Jose Antonio Vargas from last year, he talks about the secondary problem created by the immigration system - what to do about kids of illegal immigrants who grew up in the United States?
    • Last week, the Obama administration announced (by executive order) that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security would no longer deport young undocumented residents who qualify for the DREAM act (a law that has been stuck in Congress since 2001). Those eligible will receive work permits.
    • After reading this article, choose one of the following two sides to defend using 5-6 sentences to do so:
      • Illegal immigration is against the law, but the children of parents who knowingly broke the law should be able to earn citizenship.
      • Illegal immigration is against the law and as a society built on rules if we start creating loopholes it could lead to an intensification of people breaking the law.
  2. June 29th: Reactions to the Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Health Care Act (aka "Obamacare")
    • On June 28th, the Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 that the Affordable Health Care Act was constitutional. It was the end of a long political fight that has spanned the entire Obama presidency and has ramifications on whether the President will be re-elected this November.
    • Although there is definitely a political side to this story - the 2012 Presidential Election, for example - the case itself is important when it comes to concepts on the AP Exam next spring, like Federalism and Judicial Review. Federalism deals with how the States and the Federal Government interact - in this case, whether the Federal Government has the right to force the states to expand existing medical programs to cover those who are uninsured. Judicial Review deals with the Supreme Court's ability to decide on whether laws passed by the Federal Government are constitutional (giving the Federal Government the right to limit or expand its rights of citizens and/or the states) - in this case, whether the Federal Government has the right to force someone to buy something against their will for the collective good of the society.
    • There are two things I want you to write about this week (and one search):
      • Read over this front page story from USA Today and answer the two main questions discussed in the previous bullet on Federalism and Judicial Review that pertained to this case (the underlined parts). Besides saying yes or no to those questions, what are your feelings on both topics?
      • Why did Justice John Roberts seemingly vote against expectations? Time Magazine writer Adam Cohen makes his argument here but I want you to explain why you think Roberts made his choice.
      • Finally, I want you to select the best political cartoon FOR and AGAINST the Supreme Court ruling. From this website, search the following topics to get a good view "Obamacare", "Affordable Care", and/or "Supreme Court" or do a date range search for June 28, 2012 to July 1, 2012. (If you want to get this from a different source, no problem BUT it cannot be a meme - a picture with a snarky saying on it).
  3. July 6th: How Americans Lost Trust in Our Greatest Institutions (The Atlantic, 4/20/2012)
    • While your family may be doing well, this election has been built around (and will continue to be built around) the problems facing American families during this economic downturn. This economic pressure is combined with a lack of faith in American Institutions - something unseen in the country since 1928-1932 (the beginning of the Great Depression) - which has created movements like the Tea Party (for Republicans) and Occupy Wall Street (for Democrats).
    • This article does a good job of expressing the pain that exists in the Midwestern (and former industrial) areas of the country that have been hit hardest by the growth of the global economy and the information/technology driven society we are evolving into.
    • As you read this article, answer this question - is government the problem or solution? Advise one of the Presidential candidates (the one you like) how they could reach out to these voters.
  4. July 13th: Handicapping a potential veep shortlist (MSNBC's First Read Blog, 7/16/2012)
    • Mitt Romney, the former Governor of Massacussetts and the Republican Nominee for President, is in the process of picking a running mate for the fall election. His staff is currently "vetting" (or investigating and interviewing) possible candidates prior to a pending announcement on who he chooses.
    • In this article, the nine "most likely" contenders are listed with the pros and cons of them joining the Romney campaign. Create your own list as if you were one of Romney's advisors - ranking them from most beneficial to least beneficial. Then explain your rankings for each of the individuals with a sentence or two.
    • If you are doing this assignment after Romney makes his choice, make an arguement why another one of the contenders would have been a better choice in your mind.
  5. July 20th: Inside the U.S. Presidents Club (Time Magazine, 4/23/2012)
    • The Presidency is an exclusive club - only 42 people have "joined" and the current membership is five. What are the roles of the current members of the club and how do they help the newest member of the club get acclimated to his position?
    • Did anything surprise you about this article? Explain why or why not.
  6. July 27th: Gun Control Debate(Fox News Sunday, 7/22/2012)
    • Another "hot button" issue that appears every so often when events warrant is the issue of gun control. The Constitution explicitly states in the Second Amendment that the "people have the right to bear arms". The question at hand is whether safety overrides freedom.
    • After the Aurora, Colorado shooting on July 20th, gun control came back into the limelight. The clip above expresses the two positions very well and they are:
      • The federal government needs to regulate how people can access firearms and certain firearms need to be banned (Senator Feinstein's position)
      • Americans have a right to bear arms (under the 2nd amendment) and by regulating or banning any weapons make it harder for people to protect themselves. (Senator Johnson's position)
    • Watch the video above and express your opinion - do you agree with Feinstein's position of safety or Johnson's position of freedom? Why?
  7. August 3rd: How the Gun Won (Time Magazine, 8/6/2012)
    • One of the surprising things about the Aurora massacre was that the Democratic party, usually a proponent of gun control, didn't use the moment to push for a change in policy. Why was that the case? Use the article above to explain the point of view and do you agree with Mr. Klein's thesis?
  8. August 11th: How Paul Ryan captured the GOP (The New Yorker, 8/6/2012)
    • In the race to the White House, there are several points in which a contending candidate gets a chance to "change the narrative" (and hopefully get a few percentage point bump in the process) - picking their running mate, the convention, and the debates. With most polls showing this week that Mitt Romney trails Barack Obama by 7% to 9% with less than 100 days to go, the Romney campaign picked Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) as his running mate.
    • The article for this assignment is a political portrait of Paul Ryan's career done by The New Yorker magazine. Read over the portrait and I want you to list two positives and two negatives about his backstory with respect to how voters will look at him. Explain each using examples from the reading itself.

Previous Readings and Questions: