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Introduction to American Government: Founding, Constitution, and Civil Rights

Malikai Bass M.A
Average rating:5.0Number of reviews:(259)
In this nine week online course, learners will learn about the foundations of American government in including understanding influences on founding, the constitution, the bill of rights, and civil rights movements and amendments.

Class experience

US Grade 7 - 10
Beginner - Intermediate Level
This class is taught in English.

    Understand the role of government in providing stability, services, and regulating access to common goods in society.

    Analyze theories of government influence, including elitism and pluralism, and how government policies result from tradeoffs among competing interests.

    Recognize the importance of civic and political engagement in a democracy and the various ways individuals can actively participate in their communities and government.
Students will learn how the colonists' initial pride in their English liberties transformed into discontent due to perceived abuses of their natural rights, leading to the declaration of American independence in 1776.
Students will learn about the deliberate limitations placed on the national government under the Articles of Confederation and how these limitations hindered the government's ability to govern effectively.
Students will learn how the flaws in the Articles of Confederation led to the creation of a new governing document, the Constitution, which significantly strengthened the national government and established a federal system with separation of powers and checks and balances
Students will learn about the debate between Anti-Federalists and Federalists, the promise of adding a Bill of Rights, and the eventual ratification of the Constitution, making it the law of the land.
Students will learn about the amendment process for the Constitution, how it helped ensure its ratification, and the subsequent additions to the Constitution, including the Bill of Rights and other significant amendments.
Students will learn the fundamental concept of federalism, which involves the division of government authority between the national and state levels, and how it differs from unitary and confederal systems.
Students will understand the historical evolution of federalism in the United States, including the eras of dual federalism, cooperative federalism, and new federalism, and how these phases shaped the relationship between federal and state governments.
Students will explore the strategies and mechanisms used by the federal government to collaborate with state and local governments, including the use of grants and mandates, and how these impact the coordination of policies.
Students will examine the contemporary challenges and changes in federalism, including the role of the Supreme Court in addressing constitutional disputes and interest groups' practice of venue shopping in the federal system.
Students will analyze the advantages and disadvantages of federalism, including its impact on political participation, policy innovation, diversity of viewpoints, as well as potential drawbacks such as a race to the bottom, economic disparities, and challenges to addressing national issues.
Students will understand the concept of civil liberties, including their historical development and expansion to protect individuals from government interference, and the ongoing debates surrounding the interpretation and balance of these rights.
Students will learn about the first four amendments of the Bill of Rights and their role in safeguarding key freedoms, such as freedom of religion, expression, the right to bear arms, protection from quartering of troops, and safeguards against unreasonable searches and seizures. They will also explore the limitations imposed on these rights in the interest of public order and societal balance.
Students will gain an understanding of the rights and protections offered to individuals suspected, accused, and convicted of crimes, as well as in civil cases and economic matters through the Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Amendments. This includes procedural safeguards, the right to remain silent, right to counsel, and the prohibition of cruel and unusual punishments. They will also explore the debate on the scope of what constitutes "cruel and unusual."
Students will explore the evolving interpretation of the Bill of Rights through court cases and understand how privacy rights, not explicitly outlined in the Constitution, have been established and clarified through laws and legal precedents, especially in cases involving abortion, sexual behavior, internet activity, and technology-related privacy concerns. They will also engage in discussions regarding the balance between privacy and public safety in contemporary society.
Students will understand the concept of civil rights, including their protection under the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and the criteria for justifying government distinctions based on individual attributes. They will also explore how different attributes such as race, sex, and religion influence the level of protection provided.
Students will learn about the historical struggle of African Americans for civil rights, particularly in the context of the post-Civil War amendments, Jim Crow laws, and the eventual gains in voting rights and protection against discrimination, while recognizing that the pursuit of equal treatment is an ongoing challenge.
movement, including the achievements of property rights and the right to vote, and the challenges women faced in securing rights such as reproductive rights and freedom from discrimination in education and employment. They will also explore contemporary gender disparities.
Students will learn about the historical injustices faced by Native Americans, Alaskans, and Hawaiians, and the progress made in regaining land, self-governance, and cultural rights. They will also recognize the existing disparities in education, employment, and other aspects affecting these groups.
Students will explore the civil rights struggles of various groups, including Hispanic and Latino communities, Asian Americans, LGBTQ individuals, and people with disabilities. They will understand the progress made in achieving rights, such as marriage equality and protection from discrimination, and the ongoing challenges, including discrimination against religious minorities.
 I have had the privilege of serving as a peer tutor and teacher's assistant for a  college-level American Government course, which provided me with a strong foundation in the subject. In addition, my graduate school studies delved into civil rights from a disability history perspective, led by a lawyer associated with the United Nations. This experience deepened my understanding of civil rights issues. I have actively participated in various student government roles, gaining practical insights into the workings of government and governance structures and becoming the most prolific student senator at multiple institutions. Furthermore, I was selected as a partner in policy for the state of Tennessee, focusing on disability civil rights. These experiences have equipped me with a multifaceted perspective on American government, policy, and civil rights, which I am excited to share with students. 
Homework Offered
Students will have two homework assignments each week consisting of reading and activities.
1 - 2 hours per week outside of class
Assessments Offered
Students will receive regular written feedback.
Grades Offered
In addition to the Outschool classroom, this class uses:
This class will use nearpod. Learners do not need an account or any identifying information other than first name. They will need to click a link in chat. 
Learners will learn about many political debates including abortion, gun control, and marriage equality. Learners will understand historical discrimination against many groups of people but details of specific violent acts will not be included. 
This class uses American Government 3e by openstax education as it's core text.  This is an open source college textbook that includes a variety of primary sources and has been used at many universities and approved for AP classes.
ICivics.Org material used with permission. 
Students explore a variety of sources including open source art, primary documents, and other historical artifacts to build understanding and support historical inquiry. 
- Federalist Papers
- United States Constitution
- Bill of Rights
-Discourses on the Livy- Niccolo Machiavelli
- Writings of Abigail Adams, James Madison, George Washington, and other historical figures
-Virginia Bill of Rights
- Newspaper Articles including the New York Times and Washington Post
- Supreme Court Cases and Writings
Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement
Harvard Institute of Politics
US Census Data
National Park Service
Text used in development but not directly used in class
Dahl, Who Governs?
Robert D. Putnam. 2001. Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community. New York: Simon & Schuster, 75.
Bernhard Knollenberg. 1975. Growth of the American Revolution: 1766-1775. New York: Free Press, 95-96.
 Winston Ross, “Ritchie Torres: Gay, Hispanic and Powerful,” Newsweek, 25 January 2015.
Pauline Maier. 2010. Ratification: The People Debate the Constitution, 1787-1788. New York: Simon & Schuster, 464.
Ronald L. Watts. 1999. Comparing Federal Systems, 2nd ed. Kingston, Ontario: McGill-Queen’s University, 6–7; Daniel J. Elazar. 1992. Federal Systems of the World: A Handbook of Federal, Confederal and Autonomy Arrangements. Harlow, Essex: Longman Current Affairs.
Allen Schick. 2007. The Federal Budget, 3rd ed. Washington, DC: The Brookings Institution.
Cornell Law Legal Information Institute

Meet the teacher

Average rating:5.0Number of reviews:(259)
Hello, I have thirteen years of experience in education. As an eclectic academic learner, I had lots of opportunities to benefit others with my unique understanding and gifted perspective as a twice exceptional learner. I hold a master’s degree in... 
Group Class


for 18 classes
2x per week, 9 weeks
45 min

Live video meetings
Ages 12-15
3-6 learners per class

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