Campaign Finance

Students can hear Sal give an introduction to campaign finance up to and after Citizens United, including the difference between soft and hard money, the influence of PACs and super PACs, and the impact of the McCain-Feingold Act. They can then follow that up with an in-depth video on Citizens United v. FEC in which Sal discusses the background and holdings of the case with scholars Richard Hasen, professor of law at UC Irvine School of Law, and Bradley Smith, former chairman of the FEC. Teachers can then assign an exercise to their students aligned to the current AP Government and Politics exam to assess how well they understood the content of the lesson.

Civic Education and Election Resources

PResources to Teach Why Elections Matter

It’s election season in the United States and a good time for students to understand why local and national politics matter and the core principles on how our democracy and elections works. What is gerrymandering? How can we strengthen our democracy? Plan how to answer questions like these as Election Day draws closer. Use these free K-12 civic education lessons, activities, blogs and webinars to help you educate students on the election and the importance of counting every vote. Additional topics include fostering civil discourse, fighting fake news, voting rights and debate ideas to keep your students informed and engaged.

Grades 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, K, 11, 1, 12
Voting, Elections, Politics
Lesson Plans

Political Ideology in America: Bumper Sticker Politics

Americans love to personalize their vehicles in a way you will not see in many other countries. This lesson explores political ideology by analyzing data on automobile purchases and bumper stickers. Students will learn generalizations about conservatives, liberals, Democrats, Republicans, libertarians, socialists and appreciate the American custom of advertising political thought in public. Free registration required to access the lesson plan.

Grades 6-12
Voting, Elections, Politics
Lesson Plans

Dolley Madison and Politics

This short video analyzes both the practical and the psychological contributions made by Dolley Madison to the young republic. Practically, Dolley’s weekly receptions in the drawing room of the White House became the only public gathering place in Washington, DC for doing the real business of politics. Psychologically, Dolley became, in the words of Professor Catherine Allgor, a “Republican Queen”, whose charm and charisma made her a symbol of America during the War of 1812.

Grades 11, 12, 9, 10
Voting, Elections, Politics
Video

Local Politics: The Need for Compromise

This lesson examines the process of local decision making and its need for citizen input and compromise. Students simulate a local city/county council session and advise the council on public policy. Students are asked to consider the viewpoints of different citizen groups in order to reach a compromise that will benefit the entire community. This lesson can be used with a unit on local politics and can be adapted to reflect issues of compromise in your school or community. Free registration required to access the lesson plan.

Grades 8, 9-12, 6, 7
State/Local Government
Simulation

Election 2020: Politics, Covid-19 and the Economy

The state of the economy during the presidential election season has a significant impact on not just the approval rating of the incumbent president at the time, but also has an impact on the policies in which presidential candidates run on. Additionally, the state of the economy also influences who will come out to vote in that year. This year, 2020, it is just one of many factors that may affect voter turnout but the economy may be underestimated. This exercise will encourage students to evaluate how other fluctuations in the economy may affect the ratings, policies, and decisions of the 2020 presidential candidates.

From Provocative to Productive: Teaching Controversial Topics

Get first steps for creating a respectful yet vibrant environment for students to explore diverse ideas on controversial topics, from politics to profanity, religion to racism. Four guidelines and a debate leader checklist provide a foundation for those seeking to steer productive conversations about controversial subjects.

Women Participate in the Ratification Debate

This short video assesses the role of “female politicians”: women who were interested in discussing the ratification politics and processes. The most visible of these was Mercy Otis Warren who, writing as “a Columbian Patriot,” opposed many aspects of the Constitution as undermining liberty. Professor Rosemarie Zagarri notes that many women throughout the country were thinking, talking, and reading about the ratification debates.

Grades 9-12
Voting, Elections, Politics
Video