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Author Archives: Julianne

The Semester of Exploration (Part II)

So it’s the end of April, and with May right around the corner, I am beginning to come to the realization that the end of my high school career is rapidly approaching. This realization brings both a longing for the past and an excitement for the future. Over the past couple of weeks, I have found myself beginning to reflect on the changes and growth that have occurred over the past few months. It is during these times of reflection that I come to realize just how much has happened, how much I have learned, and how much I have been able to grow throughout my final semester in high school.

Google Docs Collaboration

During my times of reflection, I cannot help, but think back to the first couple of weeks of AP Government. I remember our couple of assignments, my first blog post, my first group project. I remember “Learning the Tools,” becoming acquainted with every technologically fascinating tool available to our world today. Before this assignment I had never heard of VoiceThread, Google Docs, WordPress, or even RSS Feeds: all the tools that make collaboration so incredibly easy.  Through these many tools, I have been able to meet, work, and collaborate with girls from Hawaii to Texas to Tennessee. It has also been through these collaboration tools that I have learned just how possible it is to complete a group project from thousands of miles away.

This online AP Government class has granted me with countless opportunities.  Not only has the class presented me with opportunities to become proficient in vital technological tools, but it has also presented me with opportunities to grow. Because of my online class, I have been   given opportunities to explore my own beliefs and discuss varying views and opinions with people located all over the country. It has been through these discussion times that my own beliefs have changed and grown.

My Group's Electoral System

This class has also provided me with important lessons that I will carry with me throughout my life. I have learned that I am capable of challenging myself, managing my time, and am capable of being truly independent. I have also grown through learning about the American Government. Through this class, my own understanding and pride for the United States has grown. I have learned just how important my own voice is, how intricate our government is,and how beautifully diverse the American people are. I have analyzed what makes an American an “American,” I have considered the importance of Congress, have thought about our own rights and liberties, and I have even created my own electoral system. Everything that I have learned through this class has granted me with a greater understanding of our country, an understanding that I will carry with me to the polls this November.

Over the past semester, I have survived an exchange program to Spain, been accepted to college, chosen a college, and have studied the ins and outs of the American Government. At first glance, each challenge that I have been faced with may seem very separate, but I have come to realize that each challenge has complemented the other. What I learned and experience during my time in Spain has contributed to my greater understanding of and pride for the United States of America. What I have learned as a student in an online course studying government has contributed to my choosing of colleges and to my choosing a potential major. Each experience has come together, and together they have shaped my future. With all my new knowledge and with all my new experiences, I am strong in my belief that I will be able to confidently enter the world and take on every challenge with full force.

 
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Posted by on April 25, 2012 in Learning, Technology

 

The Importance of Congress

According to James Q. Wilson, “If you are like most Americans, you trust the Supreme Court, respect the presidency (whether or not you like the president), and dislike Congress (even if you like your own member of Congress).  We see the members of Congress as broken, the ones never able to come to a compromise, and the ones constantly wasting money, time, resources, and energy. None of us can deny that Americans are constantly blaming Congress for every hardship our country is forced to endure, from economic troubles, to the deficit, Congress receives the brunt of everything.  It is almost as though Congress has become our country’s scapegoat, when we do not know whom else to blame. We all also fear that Congress has become corrupt, and the representatives are only in it for their own benefits.

But why is Congress the group that we blame the most? Is it because Senators and Representatives are the closest things to us, our only links to Washington, or is it actually because our country’s downfalls are due to their mistakes?  It may be that all of our problems are because of Congress, or it may just be that the actions of Congress are made more known than the actions of the President or Supreme Court.

Through my readings, I have come to realize that Congress may be much more important to our country than any of us believes. I have also come to understand that maybe Congress should not be blamed for as much as it has been, and should receive more credit than it has been given.

In this week’s unit, we have participated in modules and watched videos focused on informing us on Congress’ role in our everyday lives. From the videos I learned just how much time and energy Congressmen and women put into all that they do. They truly do have their constituents’ best interests at heart, in every decision they make. When we believe that Congressmen and women are just arguing, they are actually doing their best to please every person that makes up the American population. Although it may take a while, they are dedicated to discovering compromises. I also saw how dedicated they are to bettering their communities. From the modules I learned that Congress has an effect on the medication we take, water and milk we drink, clothes we wear, and the roads on which we drive. Before participating in these modules, I never realized how much of an effect Congressmen and women have on my everyday life, on the little things that make up my day.

I have learned that there is much more to understand about Congress than what meets the eye. Congress is not just made up of Republicans and Democrats in constant argument; in fact, it is an extremely complex system, more so than I ever understood. Congress is made up of numerous subcommittees focused on taking many different opinions, ideas, and beliefs, putting them together, and forming ways to better our country.

Maybe Congress actually does need to do a much better job, or maybe they could just use a bit of motivation or support from the American people. Everyone needs to be reminded just how much Congress does for each and every one of us. We all fail to appreciate the hard work that the representatives put in to better their communities. However, we must all remember just how important Congress is to not only our country as a whole, but also to every individual life. Next time you begin to blame Congressmen, ask yourself,  “Would I be drinking this clean water if it weren’t for them?”

 
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Posted by on April 5, 2012 in Congress

 

Must Show ID

So, here I am…back in the United States of America after a couple of long, but overall incredible weeks studying in Spain. Since returning home, I have been focused on “re-Americanizing” myself. I have caught up on all my American cuisine, television shows, and all the latest news. I have also found that there is no better way to feel American than to continue my study of the American government.

The other night my dad and I were discussing current news in America, and I was describing the AP Government class’ latest units that have been focused on public opinion, the decline in voting, the current strength of political parties, and the importance of polling. After finding out that I have been learning about voter participation and public opinion, my dad began explaining a rising controversy in our country that is connected to all that we have been studying.

My dad went on to explain that the Voter ID Law is an attempt by many states to prevent voter fraud. If enacted, this law would require voters to present some form of identification when they show up to the polls. According to Wikipedia, voter fraud can constitute as illegal voter registration, intimidation at polls and improper vote counting, and the states feel that all of these things can ultimately affect election results . However, after the Justice Department deemed this law unconstitutional, a debate arose.

So what exactly is the big controversy behind this law?

Well, let me break it down for you.

On the left side, the Obama Administration is arguing that laws like the Voter ID law would disenfranchise lower-income families and minorities because it would be difficult for them to obtain a form of identification. The Administration is also saying that an ID law would continue to decrease voter participation within the minorities groups. The administration also believes that the country needs to focus on increasing all around voter participation and not just among majority groups. The last argument is based on the belief that because affluent people, who tend to be more conservative, would have an easier time obtaining identification, they would continue to be able to vote and possibly skew the vote towards the right.

The other side of the debate contends that the identification law is the only way to prevent voter fraud. They believe that voter fraud is rampant in urban, poorer sections, and the only way to prevent that is to require everyone to present some form of government identification when they show up to vote.

No one can deny that both sides have solid arguments; however, may be it is much more difficult for those in poorer communities to obtain government issued ids, but then again, if voter fraud is actually happening the states need to find a practical way to prevent it so that the election results are much more valid.

We also may consider if voter fraud is even occurring. Is this a problem that we even hear about, or as Justin Levitt, author of Truth Behind Voter Fraud, has put it, is voter fraud just a “scapegoat…in the aftermath of a close election?” Maybe maybe states are, in fact, concerned that voters are committing actual fraud, or maybe they are just crying “wolf” to a problem that is not actually there. But what do you think?

For more information visit: Truth Behind Voter Fraud 

 
 

What is Diversity?

After finding the last unit of Civil Liberties and Civil Rights quite interesting and in keeping with our class’ current events assignment, this week I decided to follow the Supreme Court’s commitment to revisit a decision made about the University of Texas’s affirmative action program. As my class has learned, the use of race and the establishment of affirmative action programs have been controversies and long-winded debates for our country. I first learned of this issue two weeks ago when I was assigned to study the Supreme Court case Bakke vs. UC Regents.

In this case, the Supreme Court decided that use of racial quotas is unconstitutional; race cannot be a factor in denying someone a spot, but it can be a factor in admitting someone into the university. However, the decision made  by the Supreme Court in the Bakke case has been debated many times since 1966.  For example, in the 2003 case Grutter vs. Bollinger the Supreme Court decided to allow states to take race into consideration during their admissions processes.

Now this is where the case being revisited comes in. After the Grutter decision was made, Texas decided to reinstate their affirmative action programs in their public universities. However, Abigail Fisher claimed that she was unconstitutionally denied admissions to the University of Texas solely based on the fact that she was white. However, UT argued that their affirmative action program was unique in the sense that the admissions team “assessed applicants who might not otherwise be admitted under the Top Ten Percent Law.” However, according to the Huffington Post, that argument may not work for the Supreme Court any longer. The Supreme Court is being faced with another question: should affirmative action programs be deemed unconstitutional and no longer legal to establish? Or, is there a proper and constitutional way to establish and use one of these programs in order to further develop racial integration?

I would like to present you all with some questions that even my high school has discussed: What is diversity? Is diversity just found in different races, ethnicities, and religions? Or is diversity found in mind, body, and spirit? I believe our country focuses a lot on this idea of diversity with a very narrow view that should be broadened.  Should colleges really be worrying about filling a quota system or should they be worrying about taking the best of the best, no matter what race they are? Even Justice O’Connor said there would come a day when “the use of racial preferences will no longer be necessary to foster educational diversity.” I believe the time has come. Throughout the past three years at a small, all girls’ school, and during my time in Spain, I have learned, and strongly believe that anyone can be considered diverse, for no two people are alike; we all have unique stories, various experiences, and something different to bring to the table. If colleges did not force diversity and just accepted those whom they felt would contribute something to their communities, diversity would come naturally.

I look forward to following the discussions about this topic and hearing the Supreme Court’s decision this fall.

 

 

 
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Posted by on February 29, 2012 in Law and Policy

 

The Month of Exploration

It is not often that most of us are able to take 20 minutes out to reflect on the passing days and coming weeks. I, for one, have surely been unable to stop and think about everything that has happened to me over the past month. However, as I sit here in the biblioteca (library) of the school in Sevilla, España that I have been attending, I begin to recognize just how many firsts and how many challenges the past month has brought to me.

From losing my luggage, to not understanding anything that was said to me, to taking a French Class in Spanish, to contracting the Flu, and to taking my first online course, I have been hit with everything over the past month. All of these challenges seemed enough for me to want to be on the first flight back to normalcy, but I have come to realize that it is because  all of these  challenges that my past month has been one so filled with discovery and adventure.

I came into both the exchange program in Spain and into this AP US GOV online course with very few expectations. I truly had no idea how I would get through one of them, let alone both at once. However, I can assure you all that I have been pleasantly surprised.

I have been so greatly enjoying having all day, every day filled with learning. My mornings are filled with the exploration of the Spanish culture, and the afternoons are filled with the exploration of my home. However, I will admit that bringing myself to study when the weather is 68 degrees and the sun is shinning, can be quite difficult, but my fascination with political science drives me to look forward to coming home from school everyday and learning something new about the United Sates Constitution while working with girls across America.

Because of AP GOV, over the past month, I have developed a true appreciation and respect for the strength, beauty, and vitality of the United States. I feel so privileged to be able to continue my passion of studying political science in the midst of learning about a new culture. There is also always a certain feeling of accomplishment every time I am able to press Hand In or Post on the Haiku Page. For me, being hours ahead and still able to press “post” on time is proof that I am able to challenge myself, even in the oddest and the most difficult of circumstances.

Both the AP GOV online course and the exchange program  in Spain are such unique opportunities and challenges that I  can honestly say, even within the past month I have grown  so much as a person and as a student. I am truly looking  forward to seeing what the coming months bring me in both learning more about our government, while at the same time exploring more about the culture of Spain.

 
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Posted by on February 10, 2012 in Learning

 
 
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