Syllabus
Texas State and Local Government

Texas State and Local Government

GOVT-2306

Summer 2011
05/23/2011 - 06/29/2011

Course Information

Section 071
Distance Learning
ONL RRC
Lynn Lehle
lynlehle@austincc.edu
(512) 223.0079

Office Hours

No office hours have been entered for this term.

Course Requirements

    P1

The Texas State Board of Education recently passed new standards for social studies. Some of the curriculum changes included:

Requiring high school students to examine "how economic freedom improved the human condition",

learning about the "Judeo-Christian influences of the nation's founders",

and added language heralding "American exceptionalism"

and the U.S. free enterprise system, suggesting it thrives best without excessive government intervention."

(Austin American Statesman, May 22, 2010, p.A1, A7.)

http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Education/2010/0522/In-Texas-social-studies-textbooks-get-a-conservative-make-over

In a thousand of your own words (about 2 pages), write a paper answering all of the following questions. 

Are these changed standards for social studies closer to conservative or liberal ideology? Why? What do conservatives believe and what do liberals believe? 

Would these changed standards be supported more by Republicans or Democrats? Why? What do Republicans and Democrats believe?

Use our textbook's chapter 4 as one of your sources. Include all of your sources.

Here is a link with more information. http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/08/   This assignment is also intended to help you prepare for Test 3.

Each ACC campus has a Learning Lab with writing free writing tutors that you can use to help you work on your writing skills.

Save your paper on your computer as a word.doc file, then use the browse in this assignment to attach it for me to read. It will show up as an ! in the gradebook until I grade it. I will post your grade points, which you can see under tools.
Email me if you have questions or problems. lynlehle@austincc.edu


>> View/Complete Assignment: P1
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Item   P2

Go to the Texas political party websites and read their platforms. Pick a couple of points that you agree with or disagree with in each party. Write about all 4 parties. List the parties and their points of interest.
Texas Republicans www.texasgop.org look under GOP Resources for the platform.
Texas Democrats www.txdemocrats.org Click on the platform from their home page.
Texas Green Party www.txgreens.org Look at their key values.
Texas Libertarian Party www.tx.lp.org Look at their platform.
List your sources at the bottom of the paper in a bibliography. Include your sources. Here is a link with more information. http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/08/


>> View/Complete Assignment: P2

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Item   P3

In this paper assume you are interested in what services are provided by a particular state agency. Choose three state agencies and write a paragraph about each agencies' services. For example you might be interested the Texas Youth Commission. They have been in the news recently because of reports of abuse. For your sources list the url or web address of the three sites you are writing about. For a complete list and links to Texas State Agencies go to www2.tsl.state.tx.us/trail/agencies.jsp
Include a bibliography of your sources. Include your sources. Here is a link with more information. http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/08/


>> View/Complete Assignment: P3

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Item   P4

In this paper you will compare state revenues in Texas with revenue sources from two other states. What differences to you see? Use our textbook, chapter 11 (Fiscal policies) as one of your sources. Read the definition of progressive and regressive taxes.  Does Texas have progressive or regressive taxes? Which kind of tax (regressive or progressive) do your other two states favor? Do you think Texas is more fair in it's revenue collection? Do you think they need to make any changes?
To find other state information go to the U.S. Census.
http://www.census.gov/govs/statetax/index.html
select a state
be sure to scroll down to see all the taxes, income taxes are down at the bottem
Remember to include your sources in a bibliography.  Include your sources. Here is a link with more information. http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/08/


>> View/Complete Assignment: P4

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OK

The instructional methodology will include students studying the required textbook and taking exams over the chapters, entering into online discussion forums about topics in the textbook to help develop understanding of the topics covered, doing short research papers to learn more about Texas government and current events and how to locate information and write about it using academically acceptable references to research sources. Students are encouraged to ask the instructor, in person during office hours, or over the phone, or using email any questions about the class or Texas Government.

 

GRADING PROCEDURES: Students will be evaluated through six exams (100 points each), two required short research papers with bibliography (50 points each), and participation in five discussion forums (20 points each). Look under assignments for directions and weblinks to write the papers. Include a bibliography of your sources with each paper. If you want to do extra credit, you may write a third and/or fourth research paper. You may choose which one you will do for extra credit and which for the required papers. The examinations will consist of objective multiple-choice questions from the material in the textbook. Each exam is worth 100 points. You can retest without my permission on any test that you want to make a higher score. I will take the higher score of either version A or B of any tests you take. You should wait one day before retesting on the same test (so you can study) but you can take more than one test a day over different chapters. For Example: you can take tests 1A and 2A on the same day and then 1B or 2B the next day if you choose to retest. Go to the textbook website before each test and take Ace the Test for practice. The discussion forums will allow students to share their opinions on contemporary issues in Texas state and local politics. They are also a way to prepare for the tests by discussing material from the textbook with other students in the class. There will be five forums during the semester. Students are required to participate in all of the forums. Each discussion forum is worth 20 points. They are graded like class participation. Students may earn a maximum of 100 points for participation in the forums.

The total number of points accumulated during the semester will determine a student's grade for the course:

 

GRADE TOTAL POINTS

A 720-800+

B 640-719

C 560-639

D 480-559

F 479 or fewer

 

Check your points. I will post points in my gradebook and you can see your points under student tools. It takes a few days for the tests to get to me from the various ACC testing centers. If you don't see one of your grades please email me and let me know. lynlehle@austincc.edu

 

EXAMINATIONS

Students will take six exams during the semester. Examinations may be taken at the Testing Centers on the Northridge, Rio Grande, Pinnacle, Cypress Creek, Riverside, and Eastview Campuses, Fredericksburg High School, Round Rock Campus, San Marcos Center and the South Austin campus. See Blackboard Announcments for the current semester's hours. Students will complete a form outside the Testing Center to request a test. You will need your ACC id, which you can get at the Admissions office on any ACC campus. Completed examinations will be graded by the Testing Center. Students will receive a copy of the test request form indicating the student's score (# or % correct/100). Students should keep this form as verification that they completed the examinations with a particular score. Each examination will be based on the materials covered in the textbook assignments for that unit of instruction. Check the class calendar under student tools for the exam dates.

Exam 1 Chapters 1,

Exam 2 Chapters 2,3

Exam 3 Chapter 4, 5

Exam 4 Chapters 6, 7

Exam 5 Chapters 8, 9

Exam 6 Chapters 10, 11

 

Examinations should be completed by the exam dates. Examinations may be taken anytime before these dates. If you get behind, catch up as quickly as possible on exams, papers and discussion forums. All exams must be done by the deadline at the end of the semester. Check the calendar under student tools for due dates. The calendar dates divide the class work evenly over the semester. You can work ahead of this schedule or get behind and catch up. Don’t procrastinate or you will not be able to finish the class.

Readings

TEXTBOOK:

Practicing Texas Politics by Lyle C. Brown et. al. 13th ed. Wadsworth/Cengage, Pub.

 

Textbook website: www.cengage.com  Search by author. Or go directly to chapter 1 http://college.cengage.com/polisci/brown/prac_tex_pol/13e/chapters/chapter1.html

Do Prepare for class, Improve your grade and Ace the test.

.

 

The class calendar is found in Blackboard under student tools. You can click on month and see the whole month displayed. Click on the arrows next to the name of the month to move forward or back by month. Click on the underlined words for an expanded explanation of tests, discussion forums and papers. The calendar divides the class work evenly over the semester. You may work ahead of the schedule or get behind and catch up as fast as you can. You will need to complete all class work by the end of the semester deadlines, which are found in the month of May.

 

COURSE RATIONALE, OBJECTIVES AND INSTRUCTIONAL METHODOLOGY

Taking this course is a Texas legislative requirement for students enrolled in a public institution of higher education to complete three of the six hours of instruction in government in order to graduate.

 

The objective of the course is to introduce the student to the following topics:  

The Environment of Texas Politics, Chapter 1

Federalism and the Texas Constitution, Chapter 2

Local Governments Chapter 3

Political Parties, Chapter 4

The Politics of Elections, Chapter 5

The Politics of Interest Groups, Chapter 6

The Legislature, Chapter 7

The Executive, Chapter 8

Public Policy and Administration, Chapter 9

Laws, Courts, and Justice, Chapter 10

Finance and Fiscal Policy, Chapter 11

Course Subjects

COURSE DESCRIPTION

This course is an introduction to Texas state and local government. The course includes a framework for understanding Texas government and politics and the constitutional basis for the processes, the institutions and the politics and policies of Texas Government. The Austin Community College Government Department strongly recommends that students complete English 1301 or the equivalent with a grade of C or higher prior to enrolling in GOVT 2306.

Student Learning Outcomes/Learning Objectives

General Government Department Learning Outcomes, GOVT 2306
The Government Department approves a number of Texas Textbooks. These learning objectives are covered by all the textbooks but not always exactly in the order listed here.

GOVT 2306 - Texas State & Local Government
This course is an introduction to Texas state and local government. The course includes an introduction to a framework for analyzing Texas government and politics, the constitutional basis for Texas government and politics, the processes of Texas government and politics, the institutions of Texas government and politics, and the policies of Texas government and politics.

Constitutional Foundations
Learning Outcome: The student will understand the foundations, development, and features of the Texas Constitution of 1876.
Learning Objectives: After completing this section of the course, the student should be able to:
1. define democracy.
2. distinguish between direct and representative democracy.
3. distinguish between pluralist democracy and elitism.
4. describe separation of powers.
5. describe checks and balances.
6. describe the legacy of Texas? first five constitutions (1827, 1836, 1845, 1861, 1866).
7. describe the provisions of the Texas Constitution of 1869 and the operation of Texas government from 1870 to 1874.
8. describe the delegates to the Constitutional Convention of 1875.
9. describe the nature and impact of Texas? constitutions prior to the Constitution of 1876.
10. describe the nature and characteristics of the 1876 Constitution.
11. describe the major provisions of the 1876 Constitution.
12. describe the major criticisms of the 1876 Constitution.
13. describe the comprehensive constitutional revision efforts of 1971-1975.
14. describe the process for amending the 1876 Constitution.
15. describe the results of the amending process in terms of the number and nature of the amendments that have been adopted.
16. define federalism.
17. describe the evolution of federalism.
18. describe how changes in federalism affect Texas state and local government.

Linkage Institutions
Learning Outcome: The student will understand how media, interest groups, and political parties serve as institutions to connect people to Texas state and local governments.
Learning Objectives: After completing this section of the course, the student should be able to:
1. describe the influence of the media on the Texas political system today.
2. define interest group.
3. describe the types of interest groups in Texas today and their political goals.
4. describe the resources and tactics used by interest groups to influence public policy in Texas.
5. describe the impact of interest groups on politics and government in Texas.
6. describe political action committees (PACs) and their significance.
7. distinguish between iron triangles and issue networks.
8. define political party.
9. describe the functions of political parties in the Texas political system.
10. describe the evolution of the party system in Texas.
11. compare and contrast the issue positions of the two major parties in Texas today.
12. describe the organization of the two major parties in Texas.
13. define party identification in Texas and describe its significance.
14. describe the changes in the distribution of partisan attachments in Texas over the last fifty years.
15. distinguish between realignment and dealignment.
16. describe the impact of realignment and dealignment on the Texas political system.

Political Learning
Learning Outcome: The student will understand how political values, attitudes, and behaviors are learned, organized, and expressed.
Learning Objectives: After completing this section of the course, the student should be able to:
1. define political socialization.
2. describe the agents of political socialization and their impact.
3. describe the Texas political culture.
4. define political ideology.
5. describe the various political ideologies found in the Texas political system.
6. define public opinion.
7. describe the methods for measuring public opinion.
8. describe the impact of public opinion on the Texas political system.

Campaigns and Elections
Learning Outcome: The student will understand the operation of a political campaign, types of elections, and the factors that affect election outcomes in the Texas political system.
Learning Objectives: After completing this section of the course, the student should be able to:
1. define suffrage.
2. describe the expansion of the right to vote in Texas.
3. describe the restrictions placed on suffrage in Texas.
4. describe the provisions and impact of the 1965 Voting Rights Act on suffrage in Texas.
5. define voter turnout.
6. describe early voting and its impact.
7. describe the reasons for low voter turnout in Texas.
8. distinguish between primary elections and general elections.
9. describe the types of special elections and local elections in Texas.
10. describe the type of primary election used in Texas.
11. describe the factors that affect elections in Texas.
12. describe current campaign finance regulations and their impact.

Institutions of State Government
Learning Outcome: The student will understand the structure, functions, and operations of the institutions of state government in Texas.
Learning Objectives: After completing this section of the course, the student should be able to:
1. describe the bicameral structure of the Texas Legislature and its impact.
2. describe the organization of the Texas Legislature, including its leadership structure and committee system.
3. describe the impact of incumbency.
4. describe the powers and functions of the Texas Legislature.
5. describe redistricting and gerrymandering and their effects.
6. describe the legislative process.
7. describe the influences on the voting behavior of members of the Texas Legislature.
8. describe the constitutional powers of the Texas governor.
9. describe the formal and informal roles of the Texas governor today.
10. describe the key functions and responsibilities of the plural executive in Texas.
11. describe the organization of the bureaucracy in Texas state government.
12. describe sunset review and its impact.
13. describe the jurisdiction of the Texas courts.
14. describe the structure and operations of the Texas courts.
15. describe the process for selecting judges in Texas and its impact.
16. describe the criticisms of the judicial selection process in Texas.
17. describe the alternative methods of judicial selection and their effects.

Institutions of Local Government
Learning Outcome: The student will understand the structure, functions, and operations of the institutions of local government in Texas.
Learning Objectives: After completing this section of the course, the student should be able to:
1. distinguish between general-law and home-rule cities.
2. distinguish among the forms of city government in Texas and their strengths and weaknesses.
3. distinguish among the methods of selecting city councils in Texas and their effects.
4. define extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ) and describe its impact.
5. define zoning and describe its significance.
6. describe the laws concerning municipal annexation in Texas.
7. describe the powers and functions of county government in Texas.
8. describe the organization of county government in Texas.
9. describe the criticisms of county government in Texas.
10. describe the major proposals for reform of county government in Texas.
11. describe the various types of special districts in Texas.
12. describe how special districts are created in Texas.
13. describe the sources of revenue and major expenditures of local governments in Texas.

Public Policy in Texas
Learning Outcome: The student will understand the development and implementation of public policy in Texas.
Learning Objectives: After completing this section of the course, the student should be able to:
1. describe the policy-making process in Texas.
2. describe the efforts to further the quality of public education in Texas.
3. describe the efforts to ensure equality in funding of public education in Texas.
4. describe the sources of revenue and major expenditures of state government in Texas.
5. describe the types of taxes levied by the State of Texas.
6. distinguish between progressive and regressive taxes.
7. describe the regulatory policymaking process in Texas and its impact.
8. describe the criminal justice system in Texas.
9. describe health and welfare policies in Texas.