We're Number 1

AP US Government and Poverty

How does the poverty rate in the U.S. Compare with other OECD* (wealthy) countries?

*The OECD, or the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, was founded in 1948 and is made up of 36 member countries. It seeks to improve the economic and social well-being of countries and their populations. The OECD looks at issues that impact people’s everyday lives and proposes policies that can help to improve the quality of life.

  1. How accurate was your ridiculous prediction?

  2. Why do you think your guess was so wrong?

  3. How do you think the average American would answer this question?

  4. What story does this chart tell about poverty and the United States?

  5. Based on what you know about American history, politics, and political ideology, why do you think America’s poverty rate is the highest of the wealthy world?

  6. How does this high poverty rate impact American politics?

  7. Is this information good news or bad news?

  8. Are you proud that our poverty rate is three times higher than the Czech Republic?

  9. Describe one policy could lower the poverty rate.

  10. Describe one policy that could raise the poverty rate.

  11. In general, explain whether the policies of the current president will increase or decrease the poverty rate.

  12. Describe one method the U.S. president can use to make policy about Poverty?

  13. Describe one method the U.S. Congress can use to make policy. about poverty?

  14. List three departments or agencies of the U.S. bureaucracy that deal with poverty in America.

  15. Imagine that you were an interest group whose goal was to lower poverty. Describe two methods you might use to try to achieve your goals.

  16. Imagine that the average American knew the information from the chart above. Explain How that knowledge would alter American policy regarding poverty?

  17. The Pew Research Center has found that among Americans in families making less than $10,000 (the lowest income group they studied), 24.5 percent voted. Why do you think such a low rate of people with a low socioeconomic status vote?*

  18. What is one consequence of this low voter turnout?

  19. We also know that voting rates go up with income levels — the highest-income group, people in families making $150,000 or more, also had the highest turnout, at 56.6 percent. Why do you think increased income leads to increased voter turnout?*

  20. What is one policy change that would occur if the voting rate for poor and wealthy voters flip-flopped?

  21. How has the U.S. poverty rate changed over the past 50 years?*

  22. How does race and ethnicity impact the poverty rate in the U.S.? *

  23. The Preamble of the United States Constitution states, “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence (their spelling not mine!), promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” Based on the poverty statistics above, does our government succeed at promoting the general welfare?

  24. If you could wave a magic wand and make the U.S. poverty rate (17.8% of all people) similar to that of Finland (5.8%), what would be a consequence of this change?

  25. Elizabeth Warren and other presidential candidates have proposed a 2% wealth tax, that would, among other things, lead to a decrease in the poverty rate. Make a claim about whether this wealth tax would be a good idea.

  26. A student named Ichabod, upon analyzing the data from the chart above said, “America is the land of opportunity. If you are poor in America it’s your own darned fault.” Respond to Ichabod’s claim.

  27. What claim would the following people make about the American poverty rate?

  • Typical American Conservative

  • Typical American Liberal

  • Typical American Libertarian

  • Typical American Socialist

  • Felicity Huffman

  • Typical American Democrat

  • Typical American Republican

  • The Current American President

Visual Extension*

Learning Extension

Check out all this cool Pew Research Center visual data on U.S. poverty and politics.

Action Extension

Ask three other people (in person) to predict how American poverty compares with the rich world. Then share the answer with them. Share their reaction on line or in class.

Cats Ringing a Bell for Dinner Extension

Midterm Turn Up!


How did 2018 midterm election turnout compare to all other midterm elections over the past century?

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. How often do you get these predictions right, anyway?

  3. What most surprised you about this data?

  4. What question do you have about this data?

  5. How did 2018 midterm election turnout compare to all other midterm elections over the past century?

  6. Why do you think that is?

  7. What is a consequence of that?

  8. In general, how would you characterize midterm election turnout in the U.S.?

  9. Based on your knowledge of U.S. politics and U.S. history, how do you explain that?

  10. What usually happens to the party of the president when there is high midterm turnout?*

  11. If you had to bet, what do you think midterm voter turnout would look like over the next decade?

  12. What has been the average midterm turnout over the past century?

  13. How does midterm turnout compare to presidential election turnout?*

  14. How do you explain that difference?

  15. In the highest U.S. midterm election turnout of the whole entire century, less than half of the people who could have voted (Voting Eligible Population or VEP), did. How do you think that compares to other countries?*

  16. As the U.S. House has begun an impeachment inquiry this has energized the Republican and the Democratic base. How do you think this will impact voter turnout in 2020?

  17. What states have the highest voter turnout?*

  18. What was the percentage of voter turnout for 18-29 year-olds in the last midterm elections?*

Visual Extension*

AP U.S. Government and Politics

AP U.S. Government and Politics

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Learning Extension

Read College Student Voting Doubled In 2018. What It Could Mean For 2020.

Action Extension

Register to vote!!!! In many states, you don't even have to be 18 to register, you just have to be 18 by election day: Tuesday, November 3, 2020.

Animal Extension

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Democracy Around the World

AP Government and Politics

In a Pew survey of 38 countries* (see list below), of the following ways of governing a country, which is the most popular: Representative Democracy, Direct Democracy, Rule by Experts, Rule by a Strong Leader, Rule by the Military?

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What is most surprising in this data?

  3. What is the big story this chart tells?

  4. Why do you think that is?

  5. What is one political consequence of this data?

  6. Is this good news?

  7. If we had the data from 1937 (80 years ago, and on the eve of WWII) how do you imagine that data would compare to today's?

  8. How different do you think this data is going to be in 10 years?

  9. What percent of statistics are made up on the spot?

  10. Which of those five types of government would you say is more like the current government of the United States?

  11. Imagine the earth was under attack by Martians (I know they don't exist, bear with me). Explain whether you think that would make earth-people more or less democratic.

  12. American Democrats and Republicans don't always see eye to eye. However, if the typical American Democrat and the typical American Republican took this survey, how much do you believe their answers would differ?

  13. Explain the circumstance in which you believe that democracy is not the best form of government:

  14. Since the rule of POTUS Trump, would you say the US has become more or less democratic (with a small d)?

  15. This data is taken from citizens from different countries, of which some are democratic (Japan), somewhat democratic (Turkey) and non-democratic (Russia). How would the data differ if you only surveyed citizens of democratic countries?**

  16. How would the data differ if you only surveyed citizens of non-democratic countries?**

  17. How would the data differ if you only surveyed American citizens?

  18. How do you think education level impacts the survey data?**

  19. How do you imagine political ideology (left v right) impacts the survey data?**

  20. Explain whether you think that most people living in a non-democratic country are yearning to be free (in other words, do they secretly want to live in a democratic country)?

  21. Are you having a nice day?

  22. If you were in charge, would you allow every single person in the world who wanted to live in a democratic country to move to America?

  23. Imagine a democratic country elected non-experts (I know, it's hard to imagine!!!!) who ran their government very poorly, and then let's imagine a second country that was undemocratic, but ruled by experts who ran a very efficient and good government. Explain which of the two countries you would prefer to live in:

  24. Rank the 38 countries* from the chart below from most to least democratic. Which three would be at the top of the list (most democratic), which three would be at the bottom of the list, and where exactly would the U.S. under our current POTUS rank?

  25. You know, you should thank your teacher for giving you this cool class starter right now. They could be giving you a quiz or a test or a 5 paragraph essay or something like that but instead they are giving you this awesome information. So hey, why don't ya show them some love!

Learning Extension

Read the entire Pew report on the state of democracy.

Action Extension

Think about one thing you could do to make your country more democratic and one thing you could do to make your country less democratic. Share your answer in class or online. And don't forget to thank your teacher!

The 38 Countries*

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Bonus Charts!!!!**

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Freedom of The Press

¿What part of the world has the least press freedom?

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. How surprised are you by this information?

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

  4. Is this good news?

  5. Why do you think some areas are so free while others aren't?

  6. Do you think of the US as having a high level of press freedom?

  7. The United States ranks as the 41st most free country in the world. According to Reporters Without Borders, "US media freedom, enshrined in the First Amendment to the 1787 constitution, has encountered a major obstacle – the government’s war on whistleblowers who leak information about its surveillance activities, spying and foreign operations, especially those linked to counter-terrorism. Furthermore, US journalists are still not protected by a federal “shield law” guaranteeing their right not to reveal their sources and other confidential work-related information." Do you think the U.S. government should do more to promote our US press freedom?

  8. In a recent poll, over half of Americans said that the US has, "too much press freedom." React to this statement in the comments section:

Action Extension

One of the primary reasons that the US ranks low in press freedom is the surveillance of the press and citizens by the NSA. Contact your Congressional Representative and explain your opinion of US press freedom.

Foreign Aid

¿What portion of our GDP does the US give annually in foreign aid?

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What story does this chart tell?

  3. How does the US compare with other countries in terms of generosity?

  4. Did you know that if all the countries in this chart gave just .70% (that's seventy cents on 100 dollars) in foreign aid we could achieve the Millennium Goals and cut worldwide poverty in half? How far is the US from that level of giving?

  5. Did you know that the average American thinks we give about 20% of our budget on foreign aid? It's actually about 1% of our budget. Here's a great story, Surprise, Americans want to slash foreign aid to 10 times its current size. Why do you think Americans are so wrong about how much our country gives?

  6. In the comments section, explain what portion of our GDP you think should go to foreign aid: