Foreign Aid

AP US Government and Otters

What portion of the federal budget does the US spend on foreign aid?

WOW!

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What most surprised you about this data?

  3. What's the big story here?

  4. Why do you think the U.S. spends such a small portion of its budget on foreign aid?

  5. What is one consequence of spending such a small portion of our budget on foreign aid?

  6. Is this information good news or bad news?

  7. What exactly is foreign aid anyway, and where do you think most of this foreign aid goes?*

  8. What % of our budget do you think the average American thinks we spend on foreign aid?**

  9. Why do you think there's such a huge divide in what Americans think we spend and what we actually spend?

  10. What portion of US GDP do you think we spend on foreign aid?***

  11. If you were emperor/empress/emprex or czar/czarina/czar-x of America what percent of our budget would you spend on foreign aid?

  12. List three members of the US government who play a major role in formulating foreign aid spending and describe their role.

  13. In April, the State Department announced that it was halting all U.S. foreign aid going to the Central American countries of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador at the direction of President Donald Trump who said that the countries had done too little for the U.S. How much aid do those countries get?*

  14. In the comments section below, express your opinion of what portion of our budget we should spend on foreign aid:

  15. Explain whether you think the U.S. President should use foreign aid or military aid to get other countries to do him personal favors?

  16. Explain the opinion the following would probably have regarding foreign aid:

  • traditional US conservative

  • traditional US liberal

  • Anti-Federalist

  • Staunch Trump supporter

  • Staunch Bernie Sanders supporter

Learning Extension

I've put together an entire fantabulous lesson on foreign aid. Check it out and play our foreign aid party game at home!

Action Extension

Take our foreign aid quiz and then share it with your friends/fans/followers on facebook, Twitter, Myspace (kidding), Snapchat, or Instagram. After your "friends" answer what portion of the US budget they think we spend on foreign aid, share the actual amount and watch them freak out! Share your results in class or online.

Create your survey with SurveyMonkey

Visual Extension*

Infographic: Where U.S. Foreign Aid is Going | Statista You will find more infographics at Statista
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Our World In Data Extension

Otter Extension

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To Vote or not to Vote

How many states have Same Day Registration (SDR) where citizens can register to vote on election day?

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What story does the map tell about same-day registration.

  3. List any geographical (where) or demographic patterns (who) the map of same-day registration:

  4. Why do you think most states don’t allow people to register to vote on election day?

  5. What is one consequence of the low level of same-day voter registration?

  6. Do you think that same-day registration increases voter turnout?*

  7. Does your state allow same-day registration?

  8. Who makes decisions about voting such as whether people can register to vote on election day or whether people can vote at home?

  9. What do you think is the best argument for allowing people to register to vote on election day?

  10. What do you think is the best argument for NOT allowing people to register to vote on election day?

  11. The other day my student Bill said, “The last thing we should do is make voting easy for people. People should really want to vote!” How would you respond to Bill’s claim?

  12. Explain how elections are a good example of federalism.

  13. Some states allow same-day voter registration, some states allow their citizens to vote at home (VAH). How do you think Voting at Home impacts voter turnout?*

  14. Voting at Home (VAH) has been proven to increase voter turnout, reduce voter fraud, and save money on elections. Does your state allow Vote at Home?*

  15. How many states have 100% of their citizens Vote at Home (VAH)?*

  16. What do you think is the best argument for allowing people to Vote At Home?

  17. What do you think is the best argument for NOT allowing people to register to Vote At Home?

Visual Extension*

Learning Extension

Watch this video about voting at home

Action Extension

Find out about the specific voting rules in your state and share what you have learned in class or online.

CONVO Extension

Join in dialogue with your class abut voting and democracy. Here’s how CONVO works.

Meme Extension

Use the GoPo Meme bank below or an image of your own choosing and this free meme generator to make a meme about voting in America.

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Church And State

Which is more religious: the U.S. Congress or the American people?

Infographic: Congress More Religious than General Public | Statista You will find more infographics at Statista
  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What is the big story the graphic tells?

  3. Why is that?

  4. What is one consequence of that?

  5. Roughly 48.9% of Americans are Protestants. Which American religious group (Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, etc.) is the most over represented in the U.S. Congress?

  6. Why do you think that is?

  7. Which religious group (Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, etc.) is the most under represented in the U.S. Congress?

  8. All 9 Supreme Court Justices are either Catholic (6) or Jewish (3). There are no practicing Protestants on the Supreme Court. What about the Supreme Court would make its religious demographics so different from America’s?

  9. By far the largest difference between the U.S. public and Congress is in the share who are unaffiliated with a religious group. In the general public, 23% say they are atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular.” In Congress, just one person – Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., who was recently elected to the Senate after three terms in the House – says she is religiously unaffiliated, making the share of “nones” in Congress 0.2%. How do you explain such a huge discrepancy?

  10. How would American policy change if 23% of Congress members were “unaffiliated”?

  11. Which religious group is most proportionally represented in Congress?

  12. Article VI of the U.S. Constitution reads, “The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” Why do you think the Framers were opposed to religious tests for officeholders?

  13. List one question you have about this data.

  14. My student Justin Timberlake looked at this chart and said, “That’s great news!” Explain whether you agree with Justin Timberlake or not.

  15. Did you know that there are three Hindu members of the U.S. Congress? You do now!

  16. How has the religious makeup of American changed just since the 1970s?*

  17. How does the religion of a presidential candidate impact voter preference?*

  18. Congress is very Christian, but the GOP (Republican Party) is almost totally Christian (see below)*. Why do you think the GOP is even more Christian than the rest of congress?

  19. The religious composition of the Congress has changed a lot over the past 58 years. In what way has it changed the most and in what way has it changed the least?*

  20. Based on current trends and changes what do you imagine the religious composition of the U.S. Congress will be in 58 more years.

  21. How different are the House and Senate in terms of religious composition and why do you think that is? *

  22. Let’s say someone who was openly atheist or agnostic ran for Congress. How would that impact their political campaign?

  23. Did you hear about the pirate movie? - It’s rated ARRRRRRRRRRRGH!

Visual Extension*

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Learning Extension

Check out the Pew Data about religion and government.

Action Extension

Contact your U.S. Senator or Representative and ask them to explain how their religion impacts their work.

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Fuller Court Press

Everybody who is anybody knows the U.S. Supreme Court currently has 9 members. But it doesn’t have to be that size. What is the largest the U.S. Supreme Court has ever been?

  1. What the what!?!?!

  2. How inaccurate was your prediction?

  3. If you asked 100 people (not at a political science convention but in the mall) how big the Supreme Court was at its largest, how many do you predict would get the right answer?

  4. What most surprised you about this data?

  5. What is the smallest the Supreme Court has ever been?

  6. What is the big story this chart tells?

  7. Article III, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution states that, “The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish.” Does that say anything about the number of members of the Supreme Court?

  8. List one question you have about this chart.

  9. The size of the Supreme Court is not fixed by the Constitution. It is determined by Congress. The original Judiciary Act of 1789 set the number of justices at six. What branch then, gets to determine the size of the U.S. Supreme Court?

  10. Why has the number of justices changed over the years?

  11. What is one consequence of a changing Supreme Court size?

  12. Could the current Congress legally change the size of the SCOTUS?

  13. Do you think they should?

  14. During Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Presidency, many of his New Deal plans were blocked by the U.S. Supreme Court. Why didn’t Roosevelt just fire the Justices who consistently voted against him?

  15. Tired of losing in the Court, President Roosevelt proposed the Judicial Procedures Reform Bill of 1937 (known as the "court-packing plan") which gave the President power to appoint an additional Justice to the U.S. Supreme Court, up to a maximum of six. How would this “court packing” allow the president to more likely get what he wanted through the Supreme Court?

  16. Many Democrats are now convinced that if a Democrat wins the presidency in 2020 (a big if), the Supreme Court (which is majority Republican) should be enlarged. Why would Democrats want to enlarge the size of the Supreme Court under a Democratic president?

  17. Explain whether divided government would make a court packing plan more or less likely to succeed.

  18. FDR’s court packing scheme was opposed by a coalition of Democrats and Republicans. Why do you think they worked together to stop the POTUS from enlarging the court?

  19. Explain your opinion on whether you think Supreme Court Justices should serve for life.

  20. How likely is it that one of your class members stands up in the middle of this class and sings The Star Spangled Banner. It would be disruptive, but it would be very patriotic. Think about it. How likely is it?

Visual Extension

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Learning Extension

Unless you like rated-R movies, whatever you do do NOT read this super-short and fun-fun-fun, hilarious and heartwarming story that will certainly be made into a Rom-Com one day: Structural Reforms to the Federal Judiciary. Really, don’t- you’ll hate it!

Action Extension

These are the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Republican members

Democratic members

Cats In Hats Extension

Yes they did! Cats in Melon Hats!

American Race

Whites are no longer the majority (more than half) racial group in California. In what year will Whites cease to be the majority racial group in the entire U.S.?

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What most surprised you about the data from the chart?

  3. If demographic trends continue, at some point, American will become (like California is now) minority-majority. In other words, Whites will still be the biggest group (plurality) but they will not longer be more than half of the population (majority). Approximately what year will this happen?

  4. What's the big story this chart tells?

  5. List two causes of the changes reflected in the chart?

  6. List two consequences of the changes reflected in the chart?

  7. How does the information in the chart impact the following linkage institutions: elections, mass media, political parties, interest groups?

  8. Explain whether the changes reflected in the chart is good news or bad news?

  9. In what way are the changes expressed in the chart reflected in your own life?

  10. Jot down one question you have about this chart?

  11. Make a prediction for what this chart will look like in 2080 America (if there is a 2080 America):

  12. My student, Esméralda, said that a direct consequence of the data in the chart was the election of Barack Obama and the election of Donald Trump. Explain how both those things could be true.

  13. How do you think the demographic changes reflected in this chart impacted the 2016 election?

  14. Explain how the projected American racial changes will impact overall American political culture and values?

  15. In the comments section, write about how the changes reflected in the chart are impacting politics in the US today.

  16. In Letter From Birmingham Jail, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. defends the use of civil disobedience to fight for civil rights. Based on his letter, explain Dr. King’s position on fighting for equal rights today.

  17. Imagine you were a political party leader. Describe one step you would take regarding this data.

  18. Explain how you think the following people would respond to this chart and explain why:

  • Liberals

  • Conservatives

  • Republicans

  • Democrats

  • Dr. Martin Luther King

  • James “Tiny” Madison

  • Donald Trump

  • Your grandparents

Visual Extension


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Learning Extension

Check out these 10 charts on the changing face of America.

Learning Extension Extension

Do yourself a favor and dive into the 1619 Project from the NYTimes. And you can find curriculums, guides and activities for students developed by the Pulitzer Center at pulitzercenter.org/1619.

CONVO Extension

Join in dialogue with your class on the topic of race. Here’s how CONVO works.

Action Extension

Find out the demographics of your county or city and make a comparison of your local data with the national data. Make a post comparing your hometown to the nation at large on social media with the hashtag #changingamerica