HGov: Summer Assignment Chapter 1


Honors Gov logo      Welcome to our class for the 2015-16 school year. The purpose of the summer assignment is to help you get a head start and be more comfortable with the Honors Government course in September. In Honors Government, you will learn the functions of the three branches of the U.S. Government and know important facts, concepts, and theories pertaining to U.S. government and politics. You will understand typical patterns of political processes and behavior and their consequences, including the components of political behavior, the principles used to explain or justify various government structures and procedures, and the political effects of these structures and procedures. You will understand the roles, rights, responsibilities, and the participatory obligations of citizens in the United States.

Why do we study government? A study of government usually brings a collective “ugh” from most high school students. They have had many civics lessons since elementary school and they are sure they know enough to function in society or at least know where they can find the facts necessary to answer a question.

In 2012, as Americans prepared to pick the next president of the United States that November, a survey found that one out of three U.S. citizens failed the civics portion of the immigrant naturalization test. The survey of more than 1,000 voting-age Americans asked respondents 10 random questions from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services civics exam, which is administered as part of the immigration process, and found that 35 percent answered five or less questions correctly. More than 97 percent of immigrants applying for citizenship pass the test.

Native-born citizens scored best on questions related to history and geography and struggled most with questions about the function of government, specifically on questions about the Constitution and those that asked to identify current policy-makers. Other parts of the study show respondents were overwhelmingly confused about powers granted to the federal government and those granted to individual states.

Here are some questions that gave respondents the most trouble:
85 percent could not define “the rule of law.”
75 percent did not know function of the judicial branch.
71 percent were unable to identify the Constitution as the “supreme law of the land.”
63 percent could not name one of their state’s Senators.
62 percent did not know the name the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.
62 percent could not identify the Governor of their state.
57 percent could not define an “amendment.”

A concurrent survey found that almost 77 percent of Americans believe that all native-born citizens should be able to pass the civics portion of the naturalization test and 60 percent think that passing it should be requisite for receiving a high school diploma.

We study government to become informed voters, to understand our Constitutional rights, to know our responsibilities under the law and to think about how processes can be improved to benefit society.


Homework Assignment:
1. Textbook: Chapter 1 American Political Culture Read pages 5 – 33.
2. Edmodo: Take the sample Citizenship Test B.

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