POLITICAL AWARENESS - http://www.vote-smart.org

1. Political Awareness Test for Senators

- group takes test

- contrast views with 5 U.S. Senators

- selection criteria?

2. Political Awareness Test for Representatives

- views of your Representative

- contrast views with Representatives

- selection criteria?

3. Political Awareness Test for Governors

- views of your Governor

- contrast views with 5 Governors

- selection criteria?

HISTORICAL DOCUMENTS - http://thomas.loc.gov/

· U.S. Constitution

· Declaration of Independence

· Federalist Papers

1. TERM SEARCH - Select 10 constitutional/legal terms (i.e. cruel and unusual punishment, probable case, etc.). Contrast the Bill of Rights with the U.S. Congress Resolution of March 4, 1789. What conclusions have you reached? Which is preferable?

2. TERM SEARCH - Select 20 terms (i.e. sexual harassment, capital punishment, affirmative action, ex posto facto law, etc.). Explain fully, cite number of times when used exactly. Give source and context. What conclusions have you reached?

GOVERNORS - http://www.vote-smart.org http://www.vote-smart.org/state/Pennsylvania/gov/PA-govnpat.html

1. Select any 2 Governors. Review, summarize and analyze their response to the survey. What conclusions are you able to reach? Evaluate according to Liberal-Conservative. See the ACU and ADA "tests" in Ideology of Section II http://www.conservative.org/


2. Same as #1 - only contrast Governor Ridge with another Governor.

ISSUES - http://www.gol.org/

1. Select 2 states and 2 issues (indicate selection criteria).

· Sample issues: Education, Environment, Finances, Human Services, Innovation, Procurement, Public Safety, Technology, Transportation

· Identify

- Issue/Problem

- Solution

- Results

· Contrast the 2 states and the issue

· Which is best approach?

2. PICK AN ISSUE! Conduct the following search and evaluate.

· i.e. Charter Schools

- Highlights

- Background


- Role of States

- Diversity

- Reasons for

- Problems


- Implementation

- Impact on students

- Effect on Public Education

3. Pick an issue: Campaign Finance Reform, AIDS, Abortion, Affirmative Action, Balanced Budget, etc. Summarize current laws and proposed legislation. Give your perspective.


See - Politics Government Elections Presidential Elections

1. Critically evaluate the U.S. Electoral College - Examine its history - reform proposals - pros and cons - Evaluate.

2. Contrast the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Republican National Committee (RNC).

POLITICAL PARTIES AND ELECTIONS - http://www.vote-smart.org

1. Assume Colin Powell is the Republican candidate for President in 2000 - select 4 U.S. Senators and PA Senators Specter and Santorum. Examine the pros and cons of each according to the Ticket Balance Criteria (image, ideology, geography, ethnic-religion, and sex).

2. Same - Senator Fred Thompson

3. Same - Hillary Clinton (do 6 Senators)

4. Same - V.P. Al Gore (do 6 Senators)

LOBBYISTS - http://www.vote-smart.org

1. Select 10 organizations - summarize - select 3 Senators - analyze their voting record according to each group - evaluate - analyze according to liberal/conservation scale. See Ideology in Section II.

2. Same as 1 - only do 3 members of the House of Representatives.

3. Select 3 U.S. Senators - examine their voting record according to 10 organizations and contrast with their major sources of campaign contributions.

4. Pick 10 organizations.

- selection criteria

- address, telephone, E-mail

- name of President or Executive Director

- summarize views

- letter praising or criticizing position

- comment on response

PRESS - http://www.nytimes.com

1. Select 20 editorials from one newspaper over a 4-week period. Summarize articles. Give your perspective. Evaluate according to Liberal-Conservative scale. See Ideology in Section II.

2. Select 2 newspapers from list below. Pick 10 editorials over a 4-week period. Summarize. Give your perspective.

· New York Times

· Washington Post

· Philadelphia Inquirer

· Baltimore Sun

CONGRESS - http://thomas.loc.gov/

(SPECIAL NOTE: For any Senator or Representative that you study, give their address, telephone, E-mail, and web site).

1. Conduct a bill search in the 105th Congress.


i.e. Select a Senator Hatch

Pick a Topic Criminal Justice

Indicate Bill Number S.10

a. Conduct a Bill Search: title, prime sponsor, 5 co-sponsors, bill summary, status, legislative history, committee action, key amendments, summary of debates.

2. Select a bill, give sponsor, title, and number. Select 10 sub-titles and/or sections.

i.e. S.10 Title 1 - Juvenile Justice Reform

Title 2 - Juvenile Gangs

Title 3 - Juvenile Crime Control

Section 303 - Runaway Youth

Section 204 - National Program

Of these 10, summarize 5, develop an amendment for these 5 sections and justify how and why this amendment is vitally necessary and will improve the legislation.

3. Same as #1 for either:

a. HR 1122 by Solomon - "Ban on Partial Birth Abortions"

b. HR 5 - by Goodling - "Individual with Disabilities"

4. Select a Senator or Representative - pick 5 bills they have introduced - give title and number - pick one and conduct a bill search (See #1 above).

5. Select a Senator or Representative. Summarize their position on 5 issues - do a critique of your views on these issues - send an E-mail to him/her giving your critique.

6. Issue Search - Select an issue: line time veto - balanced budget - gasoline tax - water pollution - partial birth abortion - Whitewater - base closings - Clean Air Act - campaign reform - tax cuts - Communications Decency Act - Brady Bill - assisted suicide - Megan's Law. Give pros and cons of the debate - contrast the House and Senate positions - analyze. What are your opinions and conclusions?

7. Select a committee (i.e. Senate Government Affairs) - list its chairs and members - list subcommittees - select 2 major issues (summarize) and track the history of 2 bills through this committee. What conclusions have you reached? Any reform proposals?

CONGRESS - http://www.vote-smart.org

1. Select 5 bills considered by 96th Congress.

- Selection criteria, title, number, sponsor, co-sponsor, House and Senate Committees, Committee actions, House and Senate floor actions, vote per chamber, key amendments, vote of 5 Senators, conclusion and commentary on bills.

2. Select a U.S. Senator or House member - give their biography - how to contact - sources of campaign contributions - response to questionnaire - voting records according to 10 selected issues - performance evaluation according to 10 groups - response to questionnaire. What conclusions have you reached? Evaluate according to Role of representative Model.

THE PRESIDENCY - http://www.whitehouse.gov/wh/independent.agencies/html/independent

1. Select 4 Presidents. Pick 4 great actions in their tenure. Develop a "model" to select the great President. For instance, the "model" developed by noted Harvard Historian, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. includes: principles, pragmatist, activist, and accomplished goals.

2. Select 5 Presidents. Of these 5, give examples of a President acting according to each of the Roles of the President: State, Chief Executive, Chief Legislator, Voice of the People, Chief Diplomat, Leader of the Free World, Party Chief, and Chief Crisis Manager.

3. Select the Inaugural Address of a President. summarize, indicate theme and evaluate.

4. Select 3 First Ladies (selection criteria?) Summarize their activities and accomplishments. Analyze their perception of the role of First Lady. Were they successful/unsuccessful? Evaluate according to the "liberal-conservative model." See Ideology in Section II.

Note: For additional research, see individual Presidents (i.e. Richard Nixon)


Note: For additional research, see Presidential Libraries (i.e. John F. Kennedy)


PRESIDENCY - http://www.yahoo.com

1. Examine Future Candidates - Contrast Colin Powell and Al Gore - review their background, experience, sources of support, key issues of concern. Who would make the better President? Using the "ticket balance theory" (geography, image, ideology, ethnic-religion, and sex), speculate on whom they should select for Vice President.


(Villanova Center for Information Law and Policy)

· http://www.vcilp.org/Fed-Agency/fedwebloc.html#pres

· http://www.senate.gov/~moynihan/fed.html (see "Guide to Federal Government Agencies")

1. Conduct an Agency Search:

Department and organizational status - head and biography - symbol or logo (explain) - How to Contact: address, E-mail, telephone, and fax - mission statement, vision, principles, services and activities. List 10 bureaus or agencies' major issues, constituent groups. What special insights did you gain from this search?

- Special activity - If this agency were to receive a 20% budget, which services and activities should be cut, which maintained, which increased?

2. Same as #1 but:

- Special activity - Send an E-mail to the agency head praising or criticizing a particular activity or service. http://thomas.loc.gov/

3. Select a Cabinet Department (i.e. Interior). Select 10 Bureaus/agencies - explain jurisdiction, function, and activities of each. Identify agency head and budget. Defend 5 most important activities. Criticize 5 least important activities. Defend your evaluation criteria. What conclusions have you reached? Reform proposals?

4. Under FAQS, select 2 reports, summarize, and emphasize main points. Do you agree or disagree?

- Sample Reports: America Reads · Sexual Harassment · Voluntary National Tests · 10 Point Plan · School to Work · OIA · Student Aid

5. Under "Teacher's Guide" - Select 2 reports, summarize and emphasize main points. Do you agree or disagree?

- Sample Reports - Goals 2000, Drug Free Schools, etc.


U.S. Department of Labor - http://www.dol.gov

1. Select one of the following issues - give its history - how and why enacted - history of changes - summarize its key points - examine the pros and cons of the current status - give your views - evaluate according to "liberal-conservative scale." See Ideology in Section II.

· List of Issues:

- Minimum Wage

- Teen Safety

- Welfare to Work

- Protections and Welfare Reform

- Teen Safety

- Pensions

- America's Jobs

- Small Business

SUPREME COURT - http://www.courttv.com/library/supreme/justices




(See "Supreme Court Decisions")


*Note: This format is to be used for all case evaluations.


Case (plaintiff vs. defendant)


Court and Jurisdiction

Background of Case

Summary of Claims of Litigants

Majority Opinion by Court Ruling

- Findings of Fact

- Conclusions of Law

- Rationale

- Action

Liberal/Conservative Decision

Your Opinion

1. Select a contemporary case before the U.S. Supreme Court and analyze according to the above LEGAL BRIEF FORMAT

2. Select 3 judges - review their:

a. Qualifications re: prior service in law, government, and judicial experience.

b. Evaluate according to Liberal-Conservative Scale. See Ideology in Section II.

3. Select a U.S. Supreme Court case since 1937 and evaluate according to the above LEGAL BRIEF FORMAT.

4. Same, only do a U.S. Court of Appeals case-http://www.findlaw.com/casecode/supreme.html

5. Same, only do a U.S. District Court case - http://www.findlaw.com/casecode/supreme.html