Thursday, August 20, 2009

SUMMER PROJECT: Money and Health Care

This post applies more to AP Government than AP World History, but anybody in either class can respond to it.

As if the health care reform issue weren't complicated enough for the average American, consider the role special interest groups play in framing the national debate. This situation is not unique; special interest groups are a serious force to be reckoned with in the American political system.

Click here to read an article that does an excellent job describing why the various special interest groups care so much about this issue and what they're doing to ensure their groups' concerns are protected in any health care reform legislation. Then respond to one or more of the following questions:

Why DO the special interest groups described care so much about this issue that they're willing to spend huge sums of money to impact health care reform legislation?

In your opinion, are the activities of special interest groups such as those described in this article a more positive or negative force in American politics? Explain why.

As a citizen, why might it be important to know what groups are sponsoring some of the ads on health care reform?

What does Mary Matalin mean when she says in the article, "They're stakeholders when they're with you, and they're interest groups when they're against you"?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

SUMMER PROJECT: Is America Ready for Women in Combat?

OK, Rex Truax, this one's for you: you wanted controversial issues, you got it.

Historically, women were not permitted to serve in combat roles in the U.S. military. However, that seems to be changing with our experience in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Click here to read a New York Times article about this issue; then respond in writing to one or more of the following questions:

Why do you think women in the U.S. have not been allowed to serve in combat roles? What has changed, if anything, that makes a change in this policy possible?

In your opinion, should women be permitted to serve in combat roles? Be sure to explain WHY or WHY NOT.

Should American public opinion play a role in determining whether women should serve in combat roles? (The article will tell you how Americans do feel about this issue.)

If the draft were ever reinstated in our country, should women be drafted, just as men are? Why or why not?

Sunday, August 2, 2009

SUMMER PROJECT: Media Censorship in Venezuela? Or More Democracy?

The Venezuelan government has shut down the operations of 34 radio stations, many of which have been critical of President Hugo Chavez and his policies. The government says closing these stations will create a stronger democracy in Venezuela, because about a third of Venezuelan radio stations are owned by 27 families.

Click here to read an article about the radio station closings, and then respond to one or more of the following prompts:

How important is a free press to democracy? How could closing media outlets pose a threat to democracy in Venezuela? Do you agree with the Venezuelan government that closing some radio stations will strengthen democracy there?

How do you think international scrutiny of the radio station closings will affect this situation, if at all?

Do you think this type of situation could occur in the U.S.? Why or why not?

According to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, spin control is "the act or practice of attempting to manipulate the way an event is interpreted by others". Is spin control taking place in this situation? If so, who are the spin doctors (those who practice the art of spinning)? Does our own point of view affect our answer to this question? How so?