Government – Local and State

This is inspired by a former education professor of mine who is big on teaching government beyond the federal level, since the local and state levels are where we have most of our personal encounters with government.

A good starting point is Lessons On Local Government. (With thanks to the instructor mentioned above for the link.) Note the sponsors of the site, and consider the role that Special Districts play in our day-to-day lives.

Two sites that will help you keep current on the relevant issues facing local and state governments are RouteFifty and CityLab, both parts of the The Atlantic family of publications. CityLab deals specifically with urban issues; RouteFifty has a broader focus. Both have daily newsletters that’ll give you a quick look at what they’re covering.

Check out ‘None Of These Votes Are Easy’: Learning The Ropes On City Council, which is from NPR’s Been There (“lessons from a shared experience”) series. It was one of the best government stories I’ve heard in some time. (I understand that the above story is also on the Lesson On Local Government Facebook page.)

 

Immigration – Government and Sociology

Living in an area with a significant ELL population of students made the issue of immigration relevant on a personal level, even before I had a spouse with a foreign passport and green card.

With our current administration populating government with people who are not only against illegal immigration, but against immigration in general, the information at iAmerica is important and timely. Of particular interest is their Know Your Rights section, with information relevant to any government class that discusses the issue, and possibly to students in that class.

For a look at life as an immigrant refugee (Syrian), check out the New York Times series Welcome to the New World, a graphic novel telling of a true story. The series started just after the Inauguration, and is ongoing. Another view, from NPR’s Here & Now series: Afghan Refugee Family Finds New Home in Maryland.

A key part of the immigration discussion is The Wall. It takes more than politics to respond to such a proposal – see Trump Proposed a Wall – They Imagined How It Would Work. There are links in the article to most of the short films and animations mentioned in it, as well as other related material. (Be sure to watch any videos before sharing them with students – my favorite one from the article might be teacher-appropriate, but it’s definitely not classroom appropriate.)

Government – Taxes and Spending

Discussing taxes in class? Check out the TaxJazz – The Tax Literacy Project web site, the project of a law professor at Tulane.

Where do our taxes go? That answer can be found at USAFacts (“Our nation, in numbers.”) While government financial data is a major focus, it also covers demographic information (“Who are ‘the people’?”) It uses the four missions of government, as outlined in the preamble to the Constitution, as an organizing framework. Steve Ballmer (with an impressive list of partners) is behind the project.

U. S. History & Government – the Presidency

Podcasts!

Prior to the 2016 election, the Washington Post ran their Presidential podcast, covering each American president.

Since the election, they’ve had the Can He Do That podcast, exploring the limits of the office, and how those limits are being reshaped. Lots of controversies!

Similarly, The Atlantic has their Unpresidented series of videos.

If you go through pretty much any Social Studies standard, reading graphs and charts comes up somewhere. Americans size up Trump’s first 100 days, a graphic from the Washington Post, certainly meets that standard. It opens with a comparison of presidential approval/disapproval ratings for the first 100 days, going back to Eisenhower, before dissecting the current office-holder. (Polarization, anyone?)

Want to sound like the President – literally? There’s an app for that – for both Trump and Obama. What would your students like to hear the President say?

Some Presidents are easy to write about. Others, not so much… Telling Trump’s Story to Children – For Book Publishers, It’s Tricky