May 29, 2023

Introduction: Crash Course U.S. Government and Politics

Published May 18, 2023, 4:20 p.m. by Arrik Motley

In the United States, education politics refers to the ways in which individuals and groups lobby for changes in educational policy, as well as the ways in which education policy is made at the federal, state, and local levels. education politics includes a wide range of topics, from early childhood education to higher education, and from school finance to standardized testing.

In recent years, education politics has been dominated by debates over the Common Core state Standards, charter schools, and school funding. The Common Core state Standards are a set of academic standards that were developed in collaboration with state education officials and released in 2010. The standards have been adopted by more than 40 states, but they have also been the subject of intense debate, with some critics arguing that they represent a federal takeover of education.

The charter school movement is a relatively new development in education politics. Charter schools are publicly funded schools that are given greater flexibility in their operations in exchange for greater accountability for student outcomes. Charter schools have been a controversial issue, with some critics arguing that they siphon resources away from traditional public schools.

School funding is another major issue in education politics. In many states, school funding is based on local property taxes, which means that wealthier districts are able to raise more money for their schools than poorer districts. This has led to a growing debate over whether states should provide more funding for schools in low-income areas.

As you can see, education politics covers a wide range of topics. These are just a few of the most prominent issues that have been dominating the debate in recent years.

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Hi, I’m Craig. I’m not John Green, but I do have patches on my elbows, so I seem

smart. And this is Crash Course Government and Politics, a new show, hurray!

Why are fireworks legal or illegal? We might find out. Will we find out Stan?

Anyway, I have a question for you. Have you ever wondered where your tax dollars go or

why people complain about it so much? Or who pays for the highway that runs past your house?

Or why you use the textbooks you use in science class? Or why you need a license to drive,

or to hunt or to fish or to become a barber? I’ve always wanted to cut my own hair, back

when I had it. Have you ever wondered why you have to be

21 years old to drink alcohol but only 18 to vote? Or gamble. Sometimes voting is a

gamble - actually always. Do you get confused when you hear people talk about news about

Wall Street regulations, or Obamacare, or the national debt? Do you wonder why there

are so few cell phone carriers and cable companies? How about why it’s ok for student groups

to lead prayers in schools but not for the principal to do so? Have you ever wondered

if there are any limits on when, where, and how the police can search your home, or your

car, or your locker, or you, or your friend, or your grandma, or your grandma’s friend?

And do you know why you can stand outside a government office with a sign and a bullhorn

complaining about military action that you think is unfair and the police can’t stop

you, but you can be fired from your job for doing the exact same thing?

Have you ever been sued? Or fined? Ever wonder what the difference is between being sued

and being fined? Have you ever wondered why the government

does the things it does and why it doesn’t do other things? Have you ever wondered what

it would be like if we had no government at all? That would be anarchy. Can we play the

Sex Pistols, Stan? That’s probably illegal. Why is it illegal?

And probably the most important, have you ever thought about how you can change the

things that seem unjust or unfair or that you just don’t like?

Ok so that was more than one question, and obviously there isn’t a single answer to

all of those questions, except in a way, there is. The study of government and politics.

And that’s what we’re going to talk about today, and this whole series: Crash Course

Government and Politics - aptly titled.

[Theme Music]

So let’s start by doing what human beings do when confronted with complicated questions

they can’t answer. We’ll answer a simpler one. In this case, what are government and

politics and why do I need to learn about them.

Government is a set of rules and institutions people set up so they can function together

as a unified society. Sometimes we call this a state, or a nation, or a country, or Guam.

And I’ll use these terms somewhat interchangeably - except for Guam, that might be a little

confusing. So, we study government in order to become better citizens.

Studying government enables us to participate in an informed way. Anyone can participate,

but doing so intelligently that takes a little effort, and that’s why we need to learn

about how our government works. Politics is a little different. Politics is

a term we used to describe how power is distributed in a government. And in the U.S it basically

describes the decisions about who holds office and how individuals and groups make those

decisions. Following politics is a lot like following

sports in that there is a winner and a loser and people spend a lot of time predicting

who will win and analyzing why the winner won and the loser lost.

The outcome of an election might affect your life more than the outcome of a sports game

though. Unless you’re gambling - which might be illegal.

Government is really important. Everyone born in America is automatically a citizen, and

many people choose to become citizens every year so that they can have a say in the government.

The USA is a republic, which means that we elect representatives to govern us, and a

democracy, which means that citizens are allowed to participate. This ability to participate

is something we take for granted, but we shouldn’t. History tells us that that citizen participation

is the exception rather than the rule. But we’re not going to look at history. Who

has time? That’s what history courses are for with that other guy.

So one way people can participate in government is through voting. And many people will tell

you that that’s pretty much the only way we can participate in government and politics,

but THEY’RE WRONG. And I love pointing out when people are wrong. Let’s go to the Thought Bubble.

Sure, when you mark a ballot, you are participating in the political process, but there are so many other

things you can do to be an active citizen. You can contact your representatives and tell

them what you think about a political issue. People used to do this by writing letters

or sending telegrams, but now they tend to call or send email, although there’s nothing

like a good old-fashioned angry letter. People can work for campaigns or raise money

or give money. They can display yard signs or bumper stickers. They can canvass likely

voters, try to convince them to vote or even drive them to the polls on election day.

You participate in politics when you answer a public opinion poll. Or when you write a

letter to the editor or comment on an online article. You participate in politics when

you blog, or tumbl, or make a YouTube video, or tweet. I guess even YouTube comment counts.

First! Ever been to a march or a rally or held a

sign or worn a t-shirt with a slogan on it, or discussed an upcoming election at the dinner

table and tried to convince your parents who to vote for? You’ve participated in the

political process. And if you’ve actually run for office you’ve

participated, even if you didn’t win, and if you did win, congratulations, now get back

to work. You should already know this. But probably the most important thing you

can do to participate in government and politics is both the easiest and the most challenging.

Become more educated! Anyone can be a citizen, but to be a good citizen requires an understanding

of how government works, and how we can participate. It requires knowledge and effort and we have

to do it because otherwise we end up being led rather than being leaders. We learn about

politics because knowledge is our best defense against unscrupulous people who will use our

ignorance to get us to do things that they want rather than what we think should be done.

Thanks, Thought Bubble. That was my first Thought Bubble narration! Hurray! You guys

are fun. This is fun. So that’s where we come in. Over the course

of this series we will be looking in depth at American government and politics.

We’ll be talking about stuff like the structure and function of the branches of government,

the division of power between the national government and the state governments, what

political parties are, what they do, and how they are different from interest groups.

We’ll examine the role the media plays in government and politics, how the legal system

and the courts work and how they protect civil rights and civil liberties.

We’ll look at political ideologies: what it means when you say you are a liberal or

a conservative or a libertarian or a socialist or an anarchist – okay we probably won’t

talk about anarchy because that’s sort of the rejection of government. Again, Sex Pistols,

Stan? Can’t... copyright issue.

I’ll take care of it. ANARCHY - WOOO! I’ve been known to do that from time to time.

We’ll try to understand the forces that are shaping American government and politics

today. And we’ll work towards becoming more involved and developing our knowledge so that

we make our government more responsive and our politics more inclusive.

By the end of this series – and actually before the end – you will understand how

our government works and how you can make it work better for you and your community.

Not only will you be able to answer most of the questions I started this episode with,

but you will become, if you pay attention and think for yourself, a more engaged and

active citizen. And you might have a beard - if you don’t shave.

Next week we’ll talk about Congress, how it works, and what it does, when it does anything.

Thanks for watching, I’ll see you next week. And that’s my first Crash Course episode!

Are we out of poppers Stan? I’ll just throw ‘em… wooohoo! Bang! Wooo! Bang!

Crash Course Government and Politics is produced in association with PBS Digital Studios. Support

for Crash Course U.S. Government comes from Voqal. Voqal supports non-profits that use

technology and media to advance social equity. Learn more about their mission and initiatives

at Crash Course was made by all of these nice people.

Thanks for watching. Can we call Craig Course, Stan? No? Crash Course Craig? ...Can't.


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