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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Warming Warning

How much warmer is the planet now than it was in 1980?

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What story does the chart tell?

  3. Make a claim that can be substantiated by data in the chart.

  4. Explain whether this story is good news.

  5. What is the most significant cause of the trend in the chart?

  6. What is the most significant consequence of the warming of the planet?

  7. The people who made most of this climate mess (my generation and older) won’t be around to suffer from it as much as your generation (and younger). The people who made most of this climate mess (the wealthy) won’t suffer nearly as much as the poor. What do you think about that?

  8. What is the Trump administration’s position on whether the real information in the chart above is even true?

  9. What is the Trump administration’s position on what we should do about the trend in the chart?

  10. Last year, The Trump administration nominated oil lobbyist David Bernhardt to run the Department of the Interior, whose role it is to “manage and sustain” America’s lands. Describe the confirmation process that Bernhardt will have to go through to become the Secretary of the Interior.

  11. Today is the beginning of the Global Climate Strike. How are you fighting against climate change?

  12. What would you consider the most effective political method to fight climate change?

  13. Given the fact that the U.S. House of Representatives is Democratic controlled, and the U.S. Senate and the Presidency are both Republican controlled, Describe how difficult appointment processes like Bernhardt’s are.

  14. What are some tactics interest groups could take to try to fight A nomination or to generally limit climate change?

  15. List some government department, agencies, or groups that have a role in measuring or regulating climate change.

  16. Explain how the United States’ federal system impacts our ability to tackle climate change.

  17. Donald Trump recently decided to take away California’s ability to have higher emissions standards than the federal government. How will increasing emissioins impact Climate change?

  18. How is that an example of Federalism?

  19. What would a supporter of states’ rights say about trump’s plan to take away California’s regulatory power?

  20. What steps could California take to stop trump’s plan?

  21. Climate change is clearly one of the most significant threats to our future. What about our political system has made it so hard to do anything to solve this problem?

  22. Climate is never mentioned explicitly in the U.S. Constitution (neither were elevators, airplanes, self-driving cars, Intercontinental Ballistic missiles, or ROOMBAs). What clause in the U.S. Constitution empowers the U.S. government to tackle climate change?

  23. How do demographics (age, political party) impact American’s views on climate change? (see chart below)*

  24. Explain why the young and the old have such different opinions about climate change.

  25. Why do you think Americans are more worried about climate change under trump than they were under Obama? (see below)*

  26. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez released a Green New Deal outline today. In our divided government, how likely is this New Deal to become a reality?

  27. In a democracy, public opinion on an issue (climate change) and public policy on that issue should be aligned - maybe not perfectly, but at least closely. Given that American pubic opinion does not closely match U.S. public policy regarding climate change, what claim would you make about the level of democracy in America?

  28. What is one policy the government could implement to help ameliorate the problem of climate change?

  29. What is the most effective thing you could do to fight climate change?

  30. In general what argument would adherents of the following ideologies make about the role of government in solving the climate change problem:





Visual Extension*


Learning Extension

Plug your city or town into the temperature calculator to see how much your home has warmed. Here’s mine…

Action Extension

In question #19 you were asked to list the best way to fight climate Change. Take one step towards that action now and share your step in class or online.

Our World In Data Extension



Democracy Minus

AP US Government and Politics

Since 1930, what do you think has happened to the percent of Americans who say: it is "essential" to live in a democracy?

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  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What most surprised you about this data?

  3. Is this good news or bad news?

  4. What is the big trend you see in this data?

  5. What are two causes of this trend?

  6. What are two consequences of this trend?

  7. Explain whether you believe that it is "essential" to live in a democracy?

  8. How does the U.S. compare to the other countries in this chart?

  9. Based on the trends in this data, how much longer do you think democracy will last in the U.S.?

  10. What questions do you have about this information?

  11. Do you think the citizens of Hawkins, Indiana live in a democracy or a demo crazy?

  12. Explain how this data connects to the 2016 presidential election?

Learning Extension

Read the entire scary article about the de-democratization of the world.

Action Extension

Create a poll on facebook, Twitter, or Poll Everywhere to survey ten of your friends about the following question: Do you believe that it is "essential" to live in a democracy? Share the results in class or online.

Adorable Animal Extension

If you can't handle cuteness you might want to look away!

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Ban the Ban

Between 1994-2004 there was a ban on assault weapons in the United States. What do you think happened to the number of gun massacres and fatalities during the time of the ban?

AP US Government and Politics

AP US Government and Politics

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. List one question you have about this data:

  3. What is the big story this data tells?

  4. Why do you think that is?

  5. What is one consequence of the fact that we since 2004 we have not had a ban on assault weapons?

  6. If you were to fill in the chart for gun massacres and fatalities from 2014-2024, what do you imagine the numbers would look like so far?

  7. Based on the data in the charts alone, do you think that an updated assault weapon ban would make America safer?

  8. The Preamble To The U.S. 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, 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.” Regarding gun violence, would it be fair to say that our government is insuring tranquility, providing defence (that’s how they spelled defense back in the olden days, yo!), and promoting welfare?

  9. Let’s say you are the POTUS. What actions could the executive branch of the U.S. Government take regarding guns?

  10. What actions could the legislative branch of the U.S. Government take regarding guns?

  11. What could the judicial branch do about those actions?

  12. The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” In your reading and understanding of this Amendment, can the U.S. government regulate, restrict, or ban guns or ammunition?

  13. In the Supreme Court’s reading and understanding of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and through its ruling in McDonald v. Chicago (2010), can the U.S. government regulate, restrict, or ban guns or ammunition?

  14. In your opinion, explain whether the U.S. government may regulate, restrict, or ban individual ownership of SAMS (surface to air missiles).

  15. One argument about guns goes like this: if you ban assault weapons eventually you will ban shotguns and when you ban shotguns, eventually you will ban handguns, and when you ban handguns eventually people will no longer be free. This is called a slippery-slope argument. What do you think of this specific argument?

  16. Imagine that the Supreme Court invalidated any executive or legislative attempts to limit guns. What legal recourse could be taken to try to ban guns?

  17. Explain whether it is likely that we will Amend the Constitution to repeal the Second Amendment.

  18. Walmart asked customers to refrain from openly carrying firearms in its stores, and also announced it would no longer sell certain ammunition, including bullets for handguns and assault-style rifles – joined a growing list of national chains that have taken action to minimize the presence of firearms at their stores. This decision is legal, but is it a good decision? Make a claim about Walmart’s decision.

  19. Explain whether people who live in countries like Canada, Australia, Japan, or Iceland which have strict gun regulations and dramatically less gun violence than the United States are less free than Americans.*

  20. Do you think that video gaming is a major cause of gun violence in the US?*

*Visual Extension

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Action Extension

Contact your federal legislator or POTUS and share your opinion on an assault weapon ban.