Incarceration nation

What has happened to the number of sentenced inmates in federal custody (federal prisoners) over the past 30 years?

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What is the big trend over the past 30 years?

  3. Why do you think that is?

  4. What is one consequence of this trend?

  5. Who pays for this all?

  6. Is this good news?

  7. What is one thing a president could do about this?

  8. What is one thing a citizen could do about this?

  9. Based on the data from the chart, which president would you hold most responsible for increasing the number of federal prisoners?

  10. Describe the trend in the number of federal inmates during President Obama's time in office?

  11. Why do you think that is?

  12. What do you imagine the trend will be like under Donald Trump?

  13. If you were president explain whether you would try to increase or decrease the federal prison population.

  14. In a country like Finland or Norway, criminals are not incarcerated in American style prisons, but live in rehabilitation centers where they are generally allowed to come and go as they please. Explain whether you think that sort of incarceration system would work in the US.


Learning Extension

Read the Pew Research Center's report on incarceration.


Action Extension

Contact Donald Trump and express your opinion about whether or not he should follow President Obama's direction of reducing the federal prison population.


Visual Extension

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World's Deadliest Animal

What is the world's deadliest animal?

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What surprised you about this infographic?

  3. Write down two questions this infographic raises for you:

  4. Boil down the essence of this infographic into a 140 character statement (Tweet):

  5. Are you scared of mosquitoes?

  6. Which of the animals on the chart are you most scared of?

  7. How rational is your fear?

  8. What exactly do mosquitoes do that makes them so deadly?

  9. In the comments section write your reaction to the fact that every 30 seconds a child dies from malaria -  a disease that can be prevented for a child for 5 years for only $10.


Action Extension

Learn: The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation: Malaria Strategy and then take one action at: Malaria No More

Foreign Aid

AP US Government and Politics

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 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.

Visual Extension*

Infographic: Where U.S. Foreign Aid is Going | Statista You will find more infographics at Statista
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**

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***

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Legalized Discrimination

How many states have LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections in K-12 schools?

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What word came to your mind when you first read and understood this map?

  3. What story does this map tell?

  4. What patterns do you see in this map?

  5. Why do you think that pattern exists?

  6. If you overlaid the map above with a map showing the political party affiliation by state how would Democratic majority states compare to the states with nondiscrimination policy?

  7. Does your state protect LGBTQ students from discrimination?

  8. What is the most persuasive argument you have heard for why children should be protected from discrimination?

  9. What is the most persuasive argument you have heard for why children should NOT be protected from discrimination?

  10. In 1964 the U.S. Congress passed the landmark Civil Rights Act which outlawed discrimination based on race, religion, national origin and, notably, sex. Why didn’t Congress outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation in 1964?

  11. Why doesn’t the federal legislature outlaw LGBTQ discrimination today?

  12. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a federal agency that administers and enforces civil rights laws against workplace discrimination, has said the 1964 Civil Rights Act does guarantee protections against sexual orientation discrimination. Do federal agencies have discretion to make decisions about how to enforce laws?

  13. The Trump administration has taken the opposite position from the EEOC, saying that the landmark legislation that outlawed discrimination based on race, religion, national origin and, notably, sex, cannot fairly be read to apply to discrimination based on sexual orientation or transgender status. What power does the Trump administration have over the EEOC and what can they do if they don’t like the EEOC’s enforcement decisions?

  14. The Supreme Court announced on Monday that it would decide whether the Civil Rights Act of 1964 guarantees protections from workplace discrimination to gay and transgender people, agreeing to hear a case from New York, Altitude Express Inc. v. Zarda, No. 17-1623, along with one from Georgia that came to the opposite conclusion, Bostock v. Clayton County, Ga., No. 17-1618.. Based on what you know about the Supreme Court, why has the court taken on this issue?

  15. How do you think the Supreme Court will rule?

  16. Did you know that the New York case, Altitude Express Inc. v. Zarda, was brought by a skydiving instructor, Donald Zarda, who said he was fired because he was gay. His dismissal followed a complaint from a female customer who had voiced concerns about being tightly strapped to Mr. Zarda during a tandem dive. Mr. Zarda, hoping to reassure the customer, told her that he was “100 percent gay.” He was fired. Mr. Zarda sued under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and lost the initial rounds. He died in a 2014 skydiving accident, and his estate pursued his case which they won in a recent appeals court ruling.

  17. If you were on the Court (you aren’t) explain how you would rule on this issue?

  18. Explain whether you would make a distinction in your ruling between protection for LGB people and Trans people.

  19. Do you think that the Court’s ruling on these cases will be landmark cases that will be studied by AP U.S. Government students in the future?

  20. What are some groups that might file Amicus Curiae (friend of the court) Briefs in this case?

  21. Why do groups file Amicus Curiae briefs in cases, anyway?

  22. How would a judicial conservative and a judicial activist differ in their approach to this case?

  23. How does this issue illustrate checks and balances?

  24. How does this issue illustrate federalism?

  25. Would you like to live in a world without hypotheticals?

  26. The map below* illustrates laws limiting workplace discrimination by state. How different is this map from the map above?

Visual Extension*

Learning Extension

Read the Vox article, The Supreme Court just took up a set of very big cases on LGBTQ rights, about LGBTQ discrimination in America/

Action Extension

Contact a member of your state legislature and ask them to explain their position on protections for LGBTQ students.

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Will you be richer than your parents?

AP US Government and Politics

What is the percent chance that you will be wealthier than your parents?

NY Times

AP US Government and Politics

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What most surprised you about this data?

  3. The phrase “American dream” was invented during the Great Depression. It comes from a popular 1931 book by the historian James Truslow Adams, who defined it as “that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone.” Based on this chart and your knowledge of US history and politics, explain whether you think the American dream is dead:

  4. What is the big story this chart tells

  5. For much of the 20th century, since the end of the Great Depression, each generation of Americans was getting richer. Why do you think that was the case?

  6. And why do you think that expanding growth slowed down?

  7. What is one consequence of the decline of growth in wealth for the most recent generations?

  8. Many of the people of my generation, who were born in the 60s, expected to do better than our parents, and assumed we would have a materially comfortable life: owning cars and a house. We were, for the most part, correct. Do you think that most people of your generation, born around or since 2000,  expect to be richer than your parents?

  9. What are some material expectations (car/home ownership) that your generation has that are different from people were born a half century before? Maybe your generation won't be richer than your parents'. In what way will your generation be better off (happier, better fed, fitter) than your parents' generation?

  10. Do you personally think you will deviate from the trends shown in the chart?

  11. If you had to extrapolate from this data, what would you say would be the percent chance that someone born in 1990 would make more money than their parents?

  12. In 2000?

  13. In 2010?

  14. How much do you think the death of the American dream impacted the 2016 election?

  15. When Donald Trump says, "Make America Great again," is he partly saying: bring back the American dream?

  16. Describe one policy the US government has enacted that helps people achieve the American dream.

  17. Do you think Trump will bring back the American dream/make America great again?

  18. If you were to run for president in 2020, how much impact would this data and the idea of the dying American dream affect your campaign?


Survey
Survey
Please Take Our Survey
I will be richer than my parents.

Learning Extension

Read the entire Upshot article about the American Dream.

Action Extension

It's survey time. Ask ten people born around 2000 if they think they will be richer than their parents. Crunch your data and share the information in class or online.

Visual Extension

Our World In Data Extension


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Federal Government Spending as share of GDP

AP US Government and Politics

What portion of the GDP did the federal government spend in 2016?

Pew Research Center

AP US Government and Politics

  1. How accurate was your silly prediction?

  2. Would you be embarrassed to share your prediction with your most special friend?

  3. How surprised are you by the overall portion of the GDP that the federal government spends?

  4. You do know what GDP means, don’t you?

  5. Spending by what other levels of government are not included in this chart?

  6. How do you think this spending level compares to other advanced post-industrial countries like Switzerland, Japan, or New Zealand?

  7. What are two trends in spending you see in the chart?

  8. Explain the cause of one of those trends.

  9. What is a consequence of one of these trends?

  10. Based on the trends in the chart, what portion of GDP do you think the US government will be spending by 2028?

  11. How familiar are most Americans with the data from this chart?

  12. Currently, what is the biggest single expenditure from the US government?

  13. Why do you think that is?

  14. Donald Trump, in his budget outline, has proposed increases in defense spending (very light blue section of chart) and decreases in "other" spending (darkest blue section of chart) for things like the NEA, NASA, and the CPB. Do you support that idea?

  15. If you had to cut any one area of spending in this chart, explain which area it would be.

  16. Which areas in this chart are entitlement or mandatory spending, and cannot be simply cut by a new budget?

  17. Overall, is this chart good or bad news?

  18. What would the framers of the Constitution think about this chart, besides “what the heck is a social security?”

  19. Former Treasury official Peter Fisher once said, the federal government is basically “a gigantic insurance company,” albeit one with “a sideline business in national defense and homeland security.” Based on the data from the chart, does Fisher's assessment seem correct?

Learning Extension

Read this swell new Pew Report putting federal spending in perspective.

Action Extension

Contact the POTUS, or if you're not at Mar-a-Lago, go to his website to share your opinion of US federal spending and what he should do about it!

Visual Extension (at absolutely no additional cost to the federal government)!!!

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Aw, that's adorable.

Our World In Data Extension

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Paternity Leave Me Alone

How many total weeks of paid leave is mandated to new parents by the American federal government?

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What most surprised you about this?

  3. What is the big story that this chart tells?

  4. Why do you think that the United States, one of the world’s wealthiest nations, is the only one on this chart to offer ZERO mandated paternal leave?

  5. Based only on family leave, would you rather live in a country which offered mandated paternity leave or a country which offered no mandatory parental leave?

  6. Of course, there are also no laws forbidding employers from offering paid parental leave. What kind of people then, get paid parental leave?

  7. What is one consequence of this?

  8. Explain whether you think it is better to leave decisions about parental leave to companies or whether this should be mandated by the government?

  9. What would a libertarian say about this?

  10. Do. you think private companies should be allowed to abuse workers or discriminate against them or should that be regulated by the government?

  11. Because of federalism, do you think that we have similar laws in each state regarding mandated paid parental leave?

  12. Explain whether the data from this chart is good news.

  13. In general, what is American public opinion regarding mandated paid parental leave?*

  14. How much does party identification impact Americans’ views on paternity leave?*

  15. How much does age impact Americans’ views on paternity leave?*

  16. How much does gender and income impact whether Americans actually take parental leave?*

  17. Americans making over $75,000 a year take, on average, TWICE as much paternity leave as Americans making under $30,000 a year. Describe how that impacts the American Dream and Equality of Opportunity.

  18. What about American political culture and values explains why we are the only modern post-industrial (rich) country that does NOT give any mandated paid paternity leave?

  19. What is one positive consequence of not having paid paternal leave?

  20. What is one negative consequence of not having paid paternal leave?

  21. Let’s say you wanted America to have a national policy of mandated paid parental leave. What House or Senate committees might have jurisdiction over this topic?

  22. Let’s say you wanted America to have a national policy of mandated paid parental leave. What interest groups might join you in your fight and how might they partner with you to make this policy happen?

  23. Imagine you wanted to change the rules of paternity leave in the US. What part of the US bureaucracy would be tasked with these sorts of rules?

  24. Explain how US federalism might complicate the issue of a universal paternity leave from the US government?

  25. In the comments section below, explain whether you personally think the US should grant mandated paid leave to mothers or fathers.

Visual Extension

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Learning Extension

Read this article from The Week about how the US ended up with the worst maternity leave laws on earth.

Action Extension

Contact your US Senator and share your opinion about paid paternity leave.

Our World in Data Extension


Our Animals in Clothing Extension

 

US Child Poverty

AP US Government and Politics

What percent of American children live in poverty?

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. Based on what you've just learned from this chart, list one adjective to describe how America treats her children:

  3. What questions do you have about the chart?

  4. How surprised are you by the fact that 1/3 of US children living in poverty?

  5. In the comments section below, answer the following question: Is this good news?

  6. Why do 1/3 of all American children live in poverty?

  7. What is a consequence of the fact that 1/3 of American children live in poverty?

  8. Claim: “If children don’t want to be poor they should do something about that!” Based on your knowledge of American politics, respond to this claim.

  9. Why do you think the US, one of the world's richest countries, has a worse poverty rate than countries with far fewer resources?

  10. How do you think countries like Denmark, Finland, and Norway are able to keep their child poverty rate below 10%?

  11. If you were given the option of being born in a country where 1/3 of the kids were poor or a country where 1/10 kids were poor explain which you would you chose. (Pro Tip: this offer has expired.)

  12. How do you think the current presidential administration will impact the rate of child poverty in the U.S.?

  13. We beat Latvia in our rate of child poverty!!!! Is this good news?

  14. Describe one policy the US could implement to lower the child poverty rate?

  15. Describe the process of implementing a policy like this.

  16. What U.S. agencies of departments would be the most involved in any attempts to lower child poverty?

  17. Based on his writings in Letter From Birmingham Jail, what do you think Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would say about Americans and child poverty rates?

  18. How do you imagine child poverty rates vary by state?*

  19. Based on the state poverty rate map below and your knowledge of American politics, what conclusion about party identification and poverty can you draw?*

  20. How do you think American child poverty rates have changed over time?*

  21. What about American political culture explains the high poverty rate in the U.S.?

  22. How would the following ideologies likely respond to the level of child poverty in the U.S.?

  • Liberalism

  • Conservatism

  • Libertarianism

  • Socialism

Visual Extension*

Action Extension

Share this chart on social media or post a copy of it on a bulletin board at school and ask people to comment on it.

Learning Extension

Read the new report from the Children's Defense Fund about how we dramatically reduce US child poverty.

Our World in Data Extension

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Federal Aid

AP Government and Politics

Which U.S. state relies the most on federal aid?

  1. It's Monday! How accurate was your insanely amazing prediction?

  2. It's still Monday. What surprised you most about this data?

  3. Describe any geographical patterns or trends you see in this data.

  4. How do you explain these patterns?

  5. How much does Mississippi get from the federal government each year as a percent of it's state revenue?

  6. Wow! Are you serious?

  7. States receive money from the federal government to build roads, for example. What is another example of programs for which states receive money from the federal government?

  8. What would you say to the people of Mississippi about this data?

  9. Did you know that it's the first day of the school week? Do you think most people in Mississippi are aware of the data from this chart?

  10. Explain why it is that Mississippi gets almost half of its state revenue from the government.

  11. Block grants and categorical grants are different ways U.S. federal government money flows to the states. Describe how these two types of grants are different.

  12. Explain which type of grant is a better way to allocated money.

  13. Which state gets the lowest percentage of its revenue from the federal government?

  14. Upon seeing this map, a student commented, "Dang, Mr. Milner! I'm moving to Mississippi to get all the government money! Oh, and Happy Monday!!!!" Let's call this student "Ricky Bobby" What would you like to say to Ricky Bobby about whether it would be a good idea to move to a state that gets a lot of federal support, before you punch him in the face.

  15. There is a paradox - for now I'll call it the Talladega paradox - that people from states who hate the government the most rely on it the most. What should we call this paradox? Leave the name for it in the comments section below and we'll send whoever came up with the winning paradox name an official GoPo certificate of appreciation and an underwhelming prize!

  16. What emoji would best sum up the feelings of a person in Mississippi towards the federal government?

  17. What on earth does any of this have to do with federalism? Pro-tip: think about it.

  18. What wise, incisive, and all around smart comment do you think either a conservative or a liberal would make about this map?

  19. Besides, glad to be alive, how does this map make you feel?

  20. How does party affiliation and voting results in the 2016 election relate to this map? (see below)*

  21. How different do you think this map was 100 years ago? 1 trillion years ago?

  22. Why do you think that people who get the most from the government hate the government the most?

Visual Extension*

Learning Extension

Read the Tax Foundation article about federal money and the states. Then check out this updated Wallet Hub website chock full of great charts and graphs about this topic - more than you ever thought existed on this topic. But before you delete the Wallet hub link and delete your facebook account, just think about how amazing this information is and what a fascinating topic of conversation this could be at the prom!

Action Extension

Contact the Honorable Phil Bryant, Governor of Mississippi and tell him to chill with taking all our money and then hating’ on us.

Our World in Data Extension

GoPoPro Loves Data!

Our Animals in Clothing Extension

Hipster Bear

Hipster Bear

Official Language

AP US Government and Politics

How many official languages are there in the U.S.?

AP US Government and Politics

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What most surprised you about this map?

  3. If the average American was asked to name the official language of the U.S. of A, how do you think they would answer?

  4. Why do you think the U.S. doesn't have an official language?

  5. What is one consequence of the U.S. not having an official language?

  6. What do you think are the three most commonly spoken languages in the U.S.?*

  7. What does the map of non-English usage in the United states (below*) indicate is the most and the least all-English region of the United States?

  8. Explain your opinion on the fact that the US has no official language?

  9. Let's say that the U.S. wanted to declare an official language. How would we go about doing that?

  10. What part of the government is responsible for declaring national languages?

  11. List one cost of the U.S. not having an official language and list one benefit of the U.S. not having an official language:

  12. Let's zoom out now to the entire world. What is the big story this map tells?

  13. Relative to the rest of the world, how normal is it that the U.S. has no official language?

  14. If you had to choose between having 0 official languages like Australia, or having 10 or more official languages like India, which do you think would lead to more stability?

  15. Although, English is not the official language of the U.S., there are obviously costs to not speaking English in the U.S. What would you say is the biggest cost of being a non-English speaker in the U.S.?

  16. Describe the liberal and conservative position on English being the official language of the US:

  17. How do you think this issue of language impacted the 2016 election?

  18. If you were King (POTUS, Congress, and SCOTUS) for a day Explain whether you would make English the official language of the US.

  19. If we did make English the official language of the U.S., what concrete changes would occur to our daily lives?

  20. If Pig Latin became the official language of the U.S. I would not be happy. I wouldn't be thrilled if any of the following languages became our official language either: Swampy Cree, Crimean Tartar, or Scottish Gaelic. Here is a list of some of the world's languages. List the worst possible official language of the U.S. in the comments section below.

Learning Extension

Read this ACLU backgrounder on English as the official language of the US.

Action Extension

Share your position on America having an official language on social media. Be sure to inform your followers about the (lack of an) official language of the U.S.

Visual Extension*

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Our World In Data Extension 

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