Civics Syllabus

1st Semester, 2009-10, Periods 1,4,5     
: Larry Pahl Phone: 630-372-4700 extension 4093 Free Period: 3   Home phone: 630-550-4111 E-mail:       


Civics, or political science, is the social science concerned with the question of how people govern themselves and their interaction with their political environment. Civics is a semester course required for graduation in School District U46, offered in the senior year. The course emphasizes the decision making process of American democracy and explores some of our major social problems. Topics examined in depth include national, state, and local government, our political party system, the processes of political behavior, and responsibilities of citizenship. This course is most important to students since they are now able to participate directly in our democracy at age 18. The state-required examination on the Constitution of the United States, Constitution of Illinois, Declaration of Independence, and the proper display and respect of the American flag is administered in this course. It is a graduation requirement that students pass this test with a score of "70" or higher.


  • To help students meet

a. the goals of the Social and Emotional Learning Standards for late high school students in Illinois, and

b. Goal 14 of the Illinois Learning Standards for Social Studies.

  • To help students successfully master the basic principles of the US and Illinois Constitutions.

  • To expand studentsí understanding of the formation of public policy and their responsibility to influence it. Legislative simulations will be used to help achieve this objective.

In the U.S. we are beneficiaries of a stable democracy. The virtues of a stable democracy donít magically grace nations. Picture the civil war taking place in Iraq. Robust democratic activity is not an innate characteristic of the human species. Functioning democracy depends on knowledge and learned behavior. In recent years, civic learning in American schools has been marginalized, and two-thirds of 12th-graders scored below "proficient" on the last national civics assessment, according to retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day OíConnor. It will be one of the main purposes, then, of Civics at Bartlett High School to strive to achieve the following goals outlined in the Illinois Learning Standards:

STATE GOAL 14: Understand political systems, with an emphasis on the United States.

A. Understand and explain basic principles of the United States government.

  • 4.A.5 Analyze ways in which federalism protects individual rights and promotes the common good and how at times has made it possible for states to protect and deny rights for certain groups.
  • B. Understand the structures and functions of the political systems of Illinois, the U. S. and other nations.

  • 14.B.5 Analyze similarities and differences of democracy, socialism, communism.
  • C. Understand election processes and responsibilities of citizens.

  • 14.C.5 Analyze the consequences of participation and non-participation in the electoral process.
  • D. Understand the roles and influences of individuals and interest groups in Illinois and the United States.

  • 14.D.5 Interpret a variety of public policies and issues from different perspectives.
  • E. Understand United States foreign policy as it relates to other nations and international issues.

  • 14.E.5 Analyze relationships and tensions among members of the international community.
  • F. Understand the development of United States political ideas and traditions.

  • 14.F.5 Interpret how changing geographical, economic, technological and social forces affect United States political ideas and traditions (e.g., freedom, equality and justice, individual rights).

  • Remy, Richard.. United States Government: Democracy in Action. NY, Glencoe

  • Mr. Pahlís Constitution Study Guide

  • A notebook available from Mr. Pahl for $.25 to take notes in to prepare for the Constitution test.


    Bartlett High Schoolís theme of "mutual respect" is the governing concept in the following class rules. These rules are also framed in harmony with the principles of the "Fish Philosophy"

    1. All members of the class will show respect for all other members of the class.
      (Make their day!)

    2. All students will attempt to do their best in class. (Choose your attitude)

    3. Students will attempt to help other students do their best in class. (Be there!)

    These rules assume that the main purpose of this course is for education, for learning. Therefore, every student in the class should be attempting to do their best.  That is the academic expectation.  The behavioral component is that each student should be helping other students do their best.  Talking without being recognized by the teacher, fooling around, disturbances, sleeping, laying oneís head on the desk, non-responsiveness, disrespect, are all examples of actions that are out of step with all three rules.

    Consequences. Before and after school detentions, referral to the deans, conversations with parents are the consequences that will follow infractions of these rules, not to mention the natural negative consequences which result from failing to live up to an elevated personal and academic ideal.


    A. This class will use the following grading scale: 90-100=A, 80-89=B, 70-79=C, 60-69=D, 0-59=F

    B. Basis for class grade.  The final grade is determined by the total points earned in all assignments and assessments. These will include daily homework assignments, class participation, a legislative simulation, group work, writing assignments, computer lab assignments, the Constitution exam and a semester final.  Grades will be communicated to students regularly, through Mr. Pahl passing out written records of progress to date, and through links to the studentís grade (by ID number) on the class website,

    C. The following considerations are used to grade every assignment which is turned in to Mr. Pahl:

    1. Coherence. If the assignment involves writing or a map, does it make sense?

    2. Accuracy. Are answers and statements in the assignment correct?

    3. Neatness. Is what is presented done neatly? Is it free from smudges and cross outs?

    4. Timeliness. Is the assignment turned in when it is due? Late assignments are penalized.

    5. Creativity. When used in appropriate ways, individual creativity can demonstrate personal understanding of a subject.

    E. Extra Credit Policy.  No extra credit will be allowed while the student still has class assignments not yet completed.  If all required assignments have been turned in, any student desiring extra credit can arrange for it with Mr. Pahl. The rubric for points to be issued for any approved extra credit work will be issued at the time Mr. Pahl approves the extra credit request.

    F. Accepting Late Work, Make-up Policy. I will accept work that is late, and I reserve the right to assess a 10-90% penalty for late work, depending on how late the work is. I will be clear in class about which assignments will be excluded from this policy. If a student is absent, it is that student's responsibility to find out what work was missed. 

    G. Attendance Policy. District U46 is committed to the philosophy that "Daily attendance, contribution, and participation are necessary for the successful completion of student course work." According to the district HSAP attendance procedures, tardiness and poor attendance can effect student grades.


    The class website can be found at Class information, announcements, syllabus, etc. will be there.

    This class will also make weekly trips to the computer lab, with definite assignments. Inappropriate behavior, including anything from being off task to abuse of lab equipment will be met with appropriate discipline. The misuse of the lab by some may cause the privilege to be lost for all.