US and VA Government Syllabus

  • Subject: Virginia and US Government

    Teacher: William Converse            Grade: 12

    United States and Virginia Government is a required course taken during the Senior Year. It is absolutely necessary to pass this course in order to graduate so it should not be taken lightly. Remember that “Senioritis” is not a Rite of Spring, but a dreaded scholastic disease that can consume and destroy your academic career.


    The purpose of the course is three-fold.

    The student will develop an appreciation for the American system of government.
    The student will learn how the American system of government works and how the individual is part of the government.
    The student will learn to understand and respect the rights that all people have.

    Topics will include, but not be limited to, the study of political behavior, comparative governments and economies, foundations of American government, legislative processes, civil rights, presidential government, and the judicial process.

    We will, more than likely, cover all of the following units in the order in which they are listed. Of course, some will be covered more in depth than others, but no governmental stone will be left unturned. The course will end with a comprehensive exam.

    Unit 1 Principles of Government

    • Evolution of governments
    • Types of government
    • Concepts of democracy, civil liberties, and freedoms

    Unit 2 Origins and Foundations of American Government

    • The Coming of Independence 
    • From the Articles of Confederation through the creation of a Constitutional Republic.

    Unit 3 Examining the Constitution

    • The Six Basic Principles 
    • Formal and Informal Amendments

    Unit 4 Watergate

    • A Constitutional Crisis: Checks and Balances in Action

    Unit 5 Our Federal System of Government

    • Division of powers between local, state, and national governments

    Unit 6 Congress: An overview

    • The structure and principles of Congress
    • The House of Representatives and The Senate
    • Roles of Congressmen

    Unit 7 Powers of Congress

    • Scope of Congressional Powers: Expressed, Implied, and Non-legislative

    Unit 8 Congress in Action

    • Committees in Congress
    • How a Bill Becomes a Law: The House/ The Senate

    Unit 9 The Executive Branch

    • The President’s Job Description
    • Presidential Succession and the Vice Presidency
    • Presidential Selection, Nominations, and Elections

    Unit 10 The Presidency in Action

    • The Growth of Presidential Power
    • The President’s Executive, Diplomatic, Military, Legislative and Judicial Powers

    Unit 11 The National Judiciary

    • The functions, powers and organization of the justice system
    • The Inferior Courts, the Supreme Court, and the Special Courts

    Unit 12 Civil Liberties

    • The Unalienable Rights
    • Freedom of Religion, Speech, Press, Assembly and Petition
    • Due Process of Law
    • Freedom and Security of the Person
    • Rights of the Accused
    • Punishment

    Unit 13 Political Parties and Ideology

    • Party roles in public policy and the process of elections at the local, state and national levels
    • The Two-Party System
    • The Minor Parties

    Unit 14 Voting and Voter Behavior

    • The Right to Vote
    • Voter Qualifications
    • Suffrage and Civil Rights
    • Voter Behavior

    Unit 15 State and Local Government

    • Examination of the structure of government in the state of Virginia and in our locality (Augusta County and neighboring cities)

    Unit 16 The American Economic System

    • Free Market and Other Economic Systems
    • Capitalism, Socialism, Communism
    • The government’s role in the economy

    These Units are based on the Virginia Department of Education’s SOL Enhanced Scope and Sequence. Although these units may not follow the progression as outlined in a textbook, they provide an excellent thematic progression of the Government standards.

    A Final Note: Benjamin Franklin was asked, at the conclusion of the Constitutional Convention in 1787, “What kind of government do we have?” His reply was, “A Republic, if we can keep it.”

    "This quote summarizes the whole reason we study American Government. "For the survival of our Republic we need citizens, who are educated about our past, present, and future and who know that participation and defense of our Republic remain important for our survival as a nation of free people." Professor William G. Converse


    Mr. Converse Class Rubrics 2020-21

    Social Studies Department Fort Defiance High School

    Room 207


    • Projects
    • Homework Assignments
    • Class Assignments     
    • Tests
    • Other activities

    Activities may include:

    • Reading
    • Writing
    • Research
    • Discussion
    • Cooperative Work
    • Audio Visual Study
    • Creative Assignments

    Supplies and other needs:

    • Something to write with
    • Something to write on
    • A healthy dose of enthusiasm
    • A healthy supply of respect
    • Thinking caps
    • A dash of humor
    • Stir well and simmer for 90 minutes 
    •     Smile


    Grades will be assigned by using the mandatory Augusta County Policy of 50-40-10. I will also be using the Augusta County Scale for grade ranges. You can consult the Handbook or the Fort Defiance High School Web page. Completing any missed work will be the responsibility of the student. My policy on make-up work is based on the school policy and can be resolved through mutual agreement between the student and teacher.                


    Mr. Converse: General Information





    • BS in History and Political Science Radford University 1983 
    • Social Science Teaching Certification James Madison University 1986


    • Fort Defiance High School: 1989-Present 
    • Waynesboro High School: 1986-1989

    2nd Semester Schedule

    1st Block                     Government                    8:15-9:45

    2nd Block                   US/VA History                  9:50-11:30

    3rd Block                   US/VA History                 11:35-1:30

    4th Block                    Planning                          1:35-3:10

    2nd Lunch: 12:20-12:45


    Other Duties and responsibilities

    • Senior Homeroom: (I-K)
    • Parking Lot Duty 8:00am-8:10am Daily
    • 4th Block 200 Hall Monitor

    Head Coach-Boys Outdoor TrackSpear Throw Assistant Football CoachFB Indian