Census So White

What ethnic group is most concerned that the answers they provide to the 2020 Census will be used against them?

  1. How wrong was your assumption?

  2. How surprised are you by this information?

  3. What story does this data tell?

  4. How accurately does this data reflect your own story?

  5. The U.S. census counts every resident in the United States. It is mandated by Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution and takes place every 10 years. Describe precisely (feel free to quote it) who the U.S. constitution says should be counted:

  6. more than $800 billion in annual federal funds are allocated based in part on Census population data. That’s a lot of money! What else is the Census data used for anyway?

  7. The Census question many Americans are worried about asks, "Is this person a citizen of the United States?" Why would this question worry anyone?

  8. Of all ethnic and racial groups, Explain why Asians are the most concerned and Whites the least concerned about census data being used against them.

  9. The Census Bureau expects that 630,000 households may not complete the 2020 Census because of a potential question asking about respondents' citizenship question. Why would the CENSUS BUREAU INTENTIONALLY ask a question they know will SKEW the results of the SURVEY data?

  10. What U.S. Government department is the Census Bureau part of?

  11. One expert predicts that as many as 24 million people would not be counted as a result of adding this citizenship question. HOw could thE undercount of the actual population impact things like public health and education?

  12. Federal law strictly prohibits the Census Bureau from sharing information with organizations like ICE, the FBI, or Border Patrol. Obviously, this is not comforting enough to the many people who are deciding not to answer the census. Why do you think they feel this fear of the Census AND THE GOVERNMENT?

  13. The Trump administration is locked in a legal battle with dozens of states, cities and other groups that do not want the question to appear on forms for the constitutionally mandated head count of every person living in the U.S. Why would so many states and cities be opposed to this question?

  14. Has the census ever asked about citizenship status before*?

  15. How will the census citizenship question affect you?

  16. Do you know anyone who has concerns about filling out the census?

  17. Here is a claim: The census is supposed to count everyone who is here, and this question will make AN ACCURATE count unlikely. Respond to THE VALIDITY OF THAt claim using your knowledge of the US political system.

  18. Who decides whether the use of a citizenship question on the census is constitutional?

  19. If you were the president (you’re not), explain whether you would include the citizenship question on the Census?

  20. Based on the map below*, do you think the census will impact red and blue stats equally?

Visual Extension*


Learning Extension

Look at this online copy of the new census.

Action Extension

Tweet the Census Bureau at @uscensusbureau and let them know what you think about the citizenship question.

Our World In Data Extension

Prayer in School

AP US Government and Politics

In 1962, with its ruling in Engel v. Vitale, the US Supreme Court banned school sponsored prayer in public schools. Today, what portion of Americans approve of this ruling?

Critical Questions

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What surprised you about this data?

  3. What big trend do you see in this chart?

  4. Why do you think that is?

  5. What is a consequence of this trend?

  6. Predict what you believe these numbers will look like over the next 25 years.

  7. If the US Supreme Court were to revisit its ruling today, do you imagine it would reach the same conclusion?

  8. If the US held a referendum on this issue, how do you think the US would vote?

  9. How does that make you feel about direct versus representative democracy?

  10. Imagine that you were a Justice on today's US Supreme Court. Justice:_____________ Explain how you would rule in the case of Engel v. Vitale.

  11. How high do you think the wall should be separating church and state?

  12. Did you think that in the case of Engel v. Vitale, the defendant was sports broadcaster Dick Vitale of ESPN? Admit it!

  13. Let's say that you were a member of Congress and you were outraged at the ruling from Engel v. Vitale. what specifically could you do about it?

  14. And what specifically could the POTUS do about this issue?

  15. How does age impact opinion on school prayer?*

  16. They say that as long as there are tests in school there will be prayer in school. Is this true or false?

  17. Explain how you think people in the following groups would feel about the Supreme Court's ruling in Engel v. Vitale:

    typical U.S. liberal

    typical U.S. Libertarian

    Justice Earl Warren

    The interest group: Americans United for the Separation of Church and State

    The official platform of the Republican Party

    Donald J. Trump

    the average American

    Drumstick the Turkey who was pardoned by Donald Trump on Thanksgiving 2017.

Learning Extension

Read about the history of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment at the National Constitution Center.

Action Extension

Contact your school principal, superintendent, school board member, or school district lawyer and ask them to speak to your class about the separation of church and state and how it affects their job and your school.

Bonus Charts*

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Our World In Data Extension

Fill In The Blank Constitutional Convention Style

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Use the form below to fill tell us what Madison and Washington were thinking/saying.

National Emergency Declarations

How many times have presidents declared a national emergency since the National Emergencies Act was passed in 1976?

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. Since 1976, what type of national emergency declaration was the most common?

  3. the National Emergencies Act, passed in 1976, giving the president power to declare emergency, was passed by what branch?

  4. In your opinion, did that branch give away too much of their power to another branch, thus upsetting the careful balance of powers created by the U.S. Constitution?

  5. If that branch “unpassed” that law, How would they go about it?

  6. Explain whether any other branch could “unpass” the National Emergencies Act.

  7. How many military actions resulted from declarations of national emergency?

  8. Based on this list of every single National emergency declaration since 1976, Were Democratic or Republican Presidents more likely to declare emergency?

  9. Since 1976, the other military action as part of a national emergency was George W. Bush’s declaration of a national emergency on September 14, 2001, in response to the terror attacks of September 11, which ordered troops of the military reserve to assist in national security. Explain whether the terror attacks of September 11 and the current “national emergency” at the border are equivalent emergency threats to national security?

  10. Trump’s Presidential Proclamation of the National Emergency begins with the following line, “The current situation at the southern border presents a border security and humanitarian crisis that threatens core national security interests and constitutes a national emergency." Does that seem like an accurate description of the situation at the southern border to you?

  11. Trump’s proclamation goes on to say, “In particular, recent years have seen sharp increases in the number of family units entering and seeking entry to the United States,” Does a border wall seem like the best solution to this problem?

  12. If there is a security and humanitarian crisis that threatens core national security why doesn’t the Congress act on this?

  13. Considering that 16 states are already suing the government over the national declaration of emergency. Describe the argument an anti-federalism might make about the president Proclaiming a federal declaration of emergency and taking funds to build a wall?

  14. 32 of the national emergency declarations are still active. Explain whether there Should be a sunset clause to these declarations (a mechanism to automatically end the emergency declaration after a certain time)?


  16. If you were president (I KNEW YOU COULD DO IT!!!!) Explain whether you would have declared a national emergency at the border.

Learning Extension

Read Trump’s actual Presidential Proclamation of the National Emergency.

Action Extension

Contact your member of Congress and let them know what you think about Trump’s Declaration.

Our World In Data Extension


National Emergency

AP US Government and Politics

What portion of Americans approve of Donald J. Trump’s decision to declare a national emergency to build a wall?

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. Describe public opinion of the Trump Emergency Declaration?

  3. How do you think public opinion on the emergency declaration varies by party affiliation?*

  4. Why do you think the public feels that way about Trump’s national emergency Declaration funding a border wall?

  5. Who does the U.S. Constitution empower to fund things such as interstate highways, n.A.S.A., and border walls?

  6. Does Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution give the president the power to go against the Congress’ wishes and fund a border wall?

  7. President Trump’s power to declare a national emergency and build a wall comes from 33 U.S. Code § 2293 - Reprogramming during national emergencies and 10 U.S. Code § 2808 - Construction authority in the event of a declaration of war or national emergency. Based on your reading of these two short section of the U.S. Code, does Trump’s declaration of an emergency fall within the meaning of that code?

  8. You just made a claim about Trump’s power to declare a national emergency. What institution gets to make a claim about this which carries the rule of law?

  9. There are a number of things Congress could do to stop Trump. What is the most likely thing the Senate and House could do about Trump‘s declaration of a national emergency?

  10. The power of the purse (funding) is a Congressional power laid out in Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. COnstitution. The Congress has repeatedly refused to fund a wall. By declaring a national emergency and funding a border wall, president Trump is taking away the funding from congress and giving it to himself. What does this action do to checks and balances?

  11. According to James Madison in Federalist No. 51, Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. Whose ambition is currently counteracting trump’s ambition?

  12. List the top three national emergencies that America faces:

  13. If you had to rank the border, in terms of national emergencies, how high would it rank?

  14. When Americans are asked to name the top national emergencies how high does the border wall rank?*

  15. Explain whether there is a connection between Trump taking such unpopular positions as declaring the border an emergency and his low public approval ratings?

  16. clearly, the president is taking a highly unpopular action. In your opinion, Explain whether this means that Trump is a strong or a weak leader.

  17. explain whether taking such a highly unpopular position makes Trump more of a trustee, delegate, or Politico.

  18. During two years of a Republican controlled Congress, POTUS Trump was not able to convince the legislature to fund his wall, Nor was he able to convince the public of the importance of the wall. Why do you think that is?

  19. President Trump is very good at convincing people of things they already believe in. He has been less successful at convincing people who don’t already agree with him. Explain whether successful presidents (or politicians) are able to convince people to change their minds. Support your argument with examples from american political history.

  20. The House and Senate have rejected the president’s requests for spending for the wall. Many Senators from his own party have publicaly opposed his national emergency declaration. Explain whether you believe the Congress will stop him?

  21. There are already a number of legal challenges to the national emergency Declaration (hear the list below). Where will these challenges ultimately end up and how do you think the SCOTUS will rule on this issue?

VISUAL Extension*


Action Extension

Contact your member of Congress and let them know what you think about Trump’s Declaration.

Our World In Data Extension

Presidential Rankings

AP US Government and Politics

Presidents Day Edition

According to C-SPAN’s 2017 Presidential survey, who were the top 5 best presidents in American history?

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. Which president's ranking were you most incorrect about (you can get the whole list here)?

  3. What most surprised you about this list?

  4. Which president's rankings changed the most over the past 17 years?

  5. What leadership characteristics do you think the top five presidents share?

  6. What characteristics do you think the five bottom ranked most ratchet presidents share (you can get the whole list here)?

  7. What characteristics do you think C-SPAN used in ranking the presidents?

  8. What kind of people do you think C-SPAN asked to participate in ranking the presidents?

  9. Explain how different this list would have been if instead of asking experts to rank the presidents, C-SPAN asked random Americans to offer their rankings.

  10. How many presidents do you think the average American can even name?

  11. Okay, how many can you name, hot-shot?

  12. How surprised are you that Obama was ranked the twelfth best president?

  13. What was one event or presidential action responsible for Obama's high ranking?

  14. Do you imagine Obama's ranking will rise or fall over the next 17 years?

  15. Based on his first two years in office, how do you think Donald Trump will be judged by history?

  16. Of all the things President trump has done to make america great again since he has been pOTUS, what are the three most historically significant?

  17. Explain whether there is a connection between approval ratings and presidential rankings.

  18. James Madison was the father of the Constitution and one heck of a lady's man, but he was only ranked as the 17th best president ever. What characteristics that could make someone an elegant thinker and writer might not help them be a good president?

Learning Extension

You can jump all around C-SPAN's rad-badadical interactive presidential ranking page and learn a ton about the presidents!

Action Extension

Rank your top ten most lit presidents and share your rankings in class or online. Be prepared to explain why you ranked these individuals at the tip top.

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