Professor of Government
TTh 12:00 - 1:20 pm
August 28 - December 17
Office Hours: MW: 10:20-11:20 am
MW: 1:20-1:30 pm
TTh: 1:20-2:20 pm
MW: 2:50-3:00 pm
or by appointment
Lone Star State by Cal Jillson
All new states are invested, more or less, by a class of noisy,
second-rate men who are always in favor of rash and extreme
measures, but Texas was absolutely overrun by such men.
Sam Houston (1793-1863)
COURSE OBJECTIVES AND
The purpose of the course is to acquaint the student with Texas
state and local government. The student will be introduced to: (a) a
framework for analyzing Texas politics and government; (b) the
constitutional basis for Texas government; (c) the processes of
Texas politics and government; (d) the institutions of Texas
politics and government; and (e) policies of Texas government.
Specific behavioral objectives will accompany each unit of
Additionally it is hoped that students will gain: an understanding
of federalism; an awareness of the ways in which government
affects/is affected by its citizens; political thinking as part of
the process of becoming a more effective citizen; critical thinking
skills; and a better understanding of the theoretical nature of
The course is divided up into four parts. Part 1 will provide
an overview of Texas history, the Texas Constitution, and
In Part 2 we will look at institutional elements of policy
generation and implementation as well as elections and parties.
Finally, in Part 3 we will look at the institutions of the Texas
government, namely the Congress, the Governor, and the Judiciary.
While this is primarily a lecture course, the class may also include
videos, transparencies, role-playing simulations, internet
activities, writing assignments, and classroom discussions.
Students must attend and participate regularly.
STUDENTS ACCESSIBILITY SERVICES
Students with Disabilities: Each ACC campus offers support
services for students with documented physical or psychological
disabilities. Students with disabilities must request reasonable
accommodations through the Student Accessibility Services Office
on the campus where they expect to take the majority of their
classes. Students are encouraged to do this three weeks before
the start of the semester.
Voicemail is abused. Most voicemail that is left is trivial or
deals with trivial matters. Most people who leave voicemail
ramble. It is not a good thing to waste people's time. I will
check it, but it is better to see me in person concerning any
issue before or after class, during office hours, or by
I do not like email. I realize that we live in a society
where people consider email to be a normal means of
communication and I will check it, but it is better to see me in
person concerning any issue before or after class, during office
hours, or by appointment.
I will not respond to email addresses that
are clearly not your own. In other words if you are
using your parent's email, then I will not respond to any
emails from such addresses. For
example if your name is John Smith and I receive an email that
looks like the following:
Paula Smith <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject:
Federalist Paper Full Headers:
I am sending this to you per your request.
then please do not expect a reply from me.
If you do not have your own
email address and you are incapable of getting one, such as
one provided by ACC, then you will just need to see me during
office hours or after class.
The best argument against democracy is a five-minute
conversation with the average voter.
PERSONAL EMAIL, MESSAGING, and FACEBOOK
Do NOT ever message or text the professor using Facebook, his
personal email address, or his personal cell phone for questions
related to the class. You should view Facebook, personal
email, and the personal cell as means of contacting the
professor for Austin School business, personal matters, or
political activism only.
POLICY ON ATTENDANCE and WITHDRAWAL
Each student is expected to attend and participate in each class
meeting and to complete the assigned reading PRIOR to each
class. Attendance is a direct component of the final grade
(see Classroom Participation and Attendance below). In
addition absences limit the student's opportunity to participate
fully and will almost certainly impact the student's essay
performance. Should it be necessary to miss a class a
student should contact other class members for copies of the
notes and materials covered in that class. Attendance is
required on test days. Should you miss a test day there
will be NO make up exams, instead your final grade will be based
on the tests taken. Should you miss two or more exams you
should consider dropping the course rather than suffering a
Cell phones and text-messaging devices must be turned off and
should not be in evidence in the classroom unless you have prior
approval from the instructor. Texting under the desk
rarely conceals the activity and usually reflects poorly on the
texter. Late arrivals and early departures are disruptive
so please be on time and plan to stay the entire period unless
you have previously spoken to the instructor. Excessive
tardiness or failure to follow class policies on cell phones may
result in the student being dropped from the course. Do
NOT get up during class to throw something away.
The professor reserves the right to withdraw (drop) anyone from
the class for any reason. This does not mean that you will
automatically be withdrawn if you are failing or if you are not
attending class. If you wish to drop the course please
make sure to do so yourself. The instructor will not do it
If, for any reason, you decide to withdraw from the course you
must complete the required forms in the Admissions and Records
office. Make sure to keep up with the official last day to
withdraw of the semester. This is the same date for the
professor to drop a student, so if you do not drop by this date,
there is nothing that the professor can to do help you. This may
not be the same date for High School students, so be sure to be
in compliance with your High School.
Incompletes will not be given to any student for any
reason. If it becomes clear that you will not be able to
complete the course please consider dropping the course by the
drop deadline. Failure to complete the required coursework
will likely result in lower grade or possibly an 'F' grade.
We enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of
I hope to bring some of that discomfort of thought to the
Acts prohibited by the college for which discipline may be
administered include scholastic dishonesty, including but not
limited to cheating on an exam or quiz, plagiarizing, and
unauthorized collaboration with another in preparing outside
work. Academic work submitted by students shall be the result
of their thought, research, or self-expression. Academic work
is defined as, but not limited to tests, quizzes, whether taken
electronically or on paper, projects, either individual or group;
classroom presentations, and homework.
If a student commits any of these actions, I will seek disciplinary
action in the form of an academic penalty, which will likely include
a course grade of 'F.'
Look, I take this very seriously and it has a real simple
solution. If you want to include text from someone else feel
free to cite the original author. It will strengthen your
argument and suggest that you have done research on the
subject. Otherwise, I am ruthless and will show no mercy when
it comes to plagiarism. Failure to comply with this rule is
almost certain to cause you to fail the course.
am delighted to be here with you this evening, because after
listening to George Bush all these years, I figured you needed
to know what a real Texas accent sounds like.
Governor Ann Richards
1988 Democratic National Convention keynote address
CLASS PARTICIPATION and ACADEMIC FREEDOM
Just as each student is expected to attend class, each student is
also expected to participate in the class discussion. This not
only includes preparing for class and listening in class, but also
includes asking questions, answering questions, providing examples,
and expressing opinions. This class will be much more
educational (as well as interesting) in an atmosphere of active
participation and lively exchange of ideas. There will be
numerous opportunities throughout the semester to use current events
to explore and expand upon our understanding of the concepts we are
studying. As a result I also expect students to keep up with
current events. If you are not normally in the habit of doing,
then so you must plan to begin looking at a reliable news
source. The BBC http://www.bbc.co.uk/ and Reuters
http://today.reuters.com/news/home.aspx are two examples of the
In any classroom situation that includes discussion and critical
thinking, there are bound to be many differing viewpoints.
These differences enhance the learning experience and create an
atmosphere where students and instructors alike will be encouraged
to think and learn. On sensitive and volatile topics, students
may sometimes disagree not only with each other but also with the
instructor. It is expected that faculty and students will
respect the views of others when expressed in classroom
situations. Each person has the right to express his or her
opinion. Our Bill of Rights not only guarantees us the right
to express our opinions but also provides us the opportunity to
learn from our fellow citizens as they express their opinions.
and rightfully so, they're stupid.
CONCEALED HANDGUN POLICY
The Austin Community College District concealed handgun policy
ensures compliance with Section 411.2031 of the Texas Government
Code (also known as the Campus Carry Law), while maintaining ACC's
commitment to provide a safe environment for its students, faculty,
staff, and visitors.
Beginning August 1, 2017, individuals who are licensed to carry
(LTC) may do so on campus premises except in locations and at
activities prohibited by state or federal law, or the college's
concealed handgun policy.
It is the responsibility of license holders to conceal their
handguns at all times. Persons who see a handgun on campus are asked
to contact the ACC Police Department by dialing 222 from a campus
phone or 512-223-7999.
COURSE REQUIREMENTS AND SCHEDULE
Three exams will be given during this semester as noted on the
Course Schedule. In addition to this your grade will include a
Classroom Participation component and Auxiliary Assignments.
Writing assignments or take home essays will be turned into turnitin.com
(http://www.turnitin.com). Papers handed to the professor
should be assumed lost and NO credit will be received for
them. Never treat a written assignment as a
summarization. You are to ask and answer some question of
political significance. Be creative, but also make sure to
support your thesis and any claims made around it. The class
ID and enrollment passwords are listed below:
1,000 POINT SCALE
LETTER GRADE ASSIGNMENT
Final letter grades will be assigned after determining total points
earned, as follows:
Final Grade Scale
class test or as a take-home exam at the professor's
discretion. If an essay is assigned as take-home, that
portion of the exam must be turned into turnitin.com (see
above). The exams will include both objective and essay
There are NO make-up exams. Should you miss an exam your
grade will be calculated as if you took the 2nd and Final Exams,
regardless of which exam you missed. In other words, if you
miss an exam the highest grade that you can receive for the class
will be 900 points (unless you make up for it with auxiliary
assignments). If you miss two exams, then the highest grade
that you can receive for the class will be a 70%. Sometimes
things come up in life that we cannot control. The first
exam can serve as a sort of insurance policy, so that you will not
be completely lost should you miss a test.
Arrangements can be made to take the first and second exam in the
Testing Center if the professor is informed of a need to miss the
regularly scheduled exam prior to the exam date. NO
arrangement can take place on or after the date of the test.
Due to Testing Center policy and since a new exam is generated
every semester, NO such arrangement can be made for the Final
It should also be noted that there seems to be a high learning
curve on exams in this course. It has been the experience of
the professor that people tend to do poorly on the first exam even
if they ultimately earn an 'A' in the class. The first exam
should be regarded as a lesson in learning how to take exams for
CLASSROOM PARTICIPATION and ATTENDANCE
Classroom participation is worth 150 points (one and a half letter
grades). The best way to earn a high participation grade is
to ask questions, answer questions, and contribute insights when
appropriate. This is NOT a license to be obnoxious.
In fact, being obnoxious will harm your classroom
Attendance will be taken at the start of every class period.
Failure to be on time will mean that you will not be counted as in
attendance. You can miss one class period for free.
For every class period after the first one that you are absent,
you will lose 40 points from your classroom participation
grade. There will be no excused absences. In this
manner you can render your classroom participation grade into a
negative quantity. In other words, attendance could turn
into a bottomless pit of grade annihilation. If you arrive after
attendance has finished being called, then you will be marked as
If you use a laptop you must sit in the front row, otherwise you
will be marked as absent.
There are eight ways to earn these 0-250 points (a maximum of two
and a half letter grades).
1) Lectures: You can attend an Austin School Lecture Series
talk, an Austin School Conference panel, or a speaking event
announced by your professor. If you go to these event to get
credit you must bring back proof that you attended or sign in a
sign-in sheet at the event. (40 points). Note: these
are rare in the Summer and may not happen at all. Your
professor will make every means to provide you with such
opportunities if they arise and he becomes aware of them.
2) 60 Minutes: You can
write an 300 word essay about a political topic from a single story
from 60 Minutes http://www.cbsnews.com/sections/60minutes/main3415.shtml.
be. (25 points)
3) Frontline: You can write
a 300 word essay about a political topic from a single story from
subsequent frontline can be turned into the Movie Review slots
on turnitin.com and count as 25 points each. (40 points)
4) Radiolab: You can write
a 300 word essay about any topic from a single story from Radiolab http://www.radiolab.org/.
you. You may not do more than one Radiolab for
credit. (40 points)
5) Online Lecture: You can write a 600 word
political analysis on the following lecture. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AYyNKRLyCJk&t=4s
"A Reconsideration of Modernity" (80 points)
6) Movie Reviews: You can
write 300 word film review for up to a maxium of seven of the
following movies: (20-75 points each)
Incident at Oglala (20)
Charlie Wilson's War (20)
Lone Star (20)
Monsters (2010) (20)
The Big Short (20)
Being There (1979) (30)
Smartest Guys in the Room (30)
Last Man Standing: Politics, Texas Style (30)
Where to Invade Next (40)
Eyes on the Prize (1987) (75) (6 hours)
For options 2-6 you must
turn in your work to turnitin.com (see instructions above).
HOW TO BEST COMPLETE THIS COURSE
1. Attend all class sessions; if you miss a class get copies of the
handouts/notes from a classmate.
2. Do not miss tests. It may be tempting to miss the first
exam, but don't.
3. Read the assigned material prior to each class session.
4. Study the materials; prepare for and take each exam as scheduled.
5. Complete and turn in all assignments as assigned and on
time. NO LATE ASSIGNMENTS WILL BE ACCEPTED FOR ANY REASON
AFTER CLASS BEGINS ON THE DUE DATE.
6. Contact the instructor if, at any time, you feel your performance
is not up to your standards.
FUNDAMENTAL ACADEMIC FORCES (STRONGEST TO WEAKEST)
1. Writing Ability
2. Reading Ability
3. Critical Thinking and Analytical Sills
If you can master these four forces, then you can succeed in
academia. To the extent possible this class will attempt to
assist in developing all four skills further. However, it
should be obvious that English classes are generally where the above
skills (especially the first two) are formally taught. It is
assumed that you have had English classes and that you will apply
that skill set to all writing assignments.
|The Republic of
|8/31, 9/5, 9/7
||What Came Before
|9/12, 9/14, 9/19
|The Birth of Texas
| Chapter 2
Successful politicians are insecure and intimidated men.
They advance politically only as they placate, appease,
bribe, seduce, bamboozle or otherwise manage to
manipulate the demanding and threatening elements in
|10/10, 10/12, 10/17
|The Bureaucracy and the
If these observations be just, our government ought to
secure the permanent interests of the country against
innovation. Landholders ought to have a share in the
government, to support these invaluable interests, and
to balance and check the other. They ought to be so
constituted as to protect the minority of the opulent
against the majority.
|11/14, 11/16, 11/21
|11/28, 11/30, 12/5
Auxiliary Assignments are due by 11:59 PM to turnitin.com
call him Governor
Bush because that's the
only political office he's ever held legally.
Barbara Jordan (1936-1996)
The instructor reserves the right to modify any portion of the
syllabus at any time. The Course Schedule is meant as a guide;
treat the rest as law.