This Long American Life

AP US Government and Politics

What was U.S. life expectancy at birth in 1900?

AP US Government and Politics

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What was the most surprising thing about this chart?

  3. According to this chart how does your life expectancy compare to your parents' and your grandparents'?

  4. What is the big story in this chart?

  5. Why do you think life expectancy has risen so high, so fast?

  6. Based on the chart, what do you predict U.S. life expectancy will be in 2100 right about when you hit 100?

  7. What is a consequence of growing life expectancy in the US?

  8. Is there any downside of longer life expectancy in the US?

  9. How do you think U.S. life expectancy compares to that of extremely poor countries like Myanmar or Sierra Leon?

  10. What the heck happened in 1918 to make life expectancy decline so dramatically?

  11. In the comments section, discuss how increased life expectancy affects the U.S. political system:


Learning Extension

Read the National Institute on Aging's report on life expectancy before time runs out!


Action Extension

Increasing life expectancy is a good thing, but along with aging, come certain problems for individuals and nations. Some experts have argued that we must increase immigration to help deal with our aging native-born population. Others say that because of our aging population we will have to change the terms of our social security program. Contact your president and explain three steps the federal government should take to deal with our aging population:


Visual Extension

What do you think life expectancy was like in all parts of the world about 1000 years ago?

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

Our Animals in Clothes Extension

Independent Living?

What percent of young Americans age 18-34 live independently?

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. How surprising is this data?

  3. Does this data make you feel optimistic about the future?

  4. What is one trend you see in the data?

  5. How do you explain this trend?

  6. Do you plan to live independently by age 34?

  7. How does the data from the chart compare to the experiences of your friends and family?

  8. How much do you hold the government responsible for the unemployment rate for young people?

  9. What do you think this chart will look like over the next 10 years?

  10. In the comments section, explain whether more kids living with their parents is good news or bad news:



Action Extension

Contact your congressional representative and ask them what they are doing to lower the unemployment rate for young Americans.


Bonus Map

Here's what the rates look like for Europeans. Note the age for Europeans (25-34) is different than the age for Americans (18-34)

Guns in School

AP U.S. Government and Politics

What portion of Republicans somewhat favor or strongly favor allowing teachers and officials to carry guns in K-12 schools?

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  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. In general, how would you describe the gap between Democrats and Republicans regarding gun policy proposals?

  3. Why is this?

  4. What is a consequence of this?

  5. Take our Survey: Do you personally strongly favor, favor, oppose, or strongly oppose allowing teachers and officials to carry guns in K-12 schools?

  6. How would you answer all the questions on this survey?

  7. How would allowing teachers to carry in your school impact your sense of safety and security and your ability to learn?

  8. What states already allow teachers to carry weapons at school?*

  9. Does your school allow teachers to carry weapons at school?

  10. Do you think students should be able to carry weapons at school?

  11. On which item in the poll above do democrats and republicans most agree?

  12. Has legislation preventing the mentally ill from purchasing guns been passed at a national level?

  13. Why or why not?

  14. Why do you think that students have taken the lead on this issue?

  15. There is an idea that young people are politically apathetic and lazy. Do you believe that is true?

  16. Let's say that you wanted to make a difference in gun legislation (either for stricter gun control or less strict gun control). What would be some politically efficacious actions that you could take to achieve your goals?

  17. There are a number of walkouts planned over the next few weeks: (list here) What is your opinion of them?

  18. Do you think students should be suspended for protesting gun deaths at school?

Learning Extension

Watch this town hall meeting where student confront political leaders about guns.

 

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Action extension

Learn about the student-led gun control protests. Walkout of school on March 14th or protest the walkout of school. Share images or descriptions of your school walkout (or protest) in class or online.