Political Science
Price: $10 USD

Question description

Policy-making in the Federal System

The U.S. government's expansive role in public policy is caught in a swirl of conflicting cross-currents. On the one hand, popular expectations about government's responsibility to solve problems often exceed the capacity of state and local authorities to respond effectively. On the other hand, policies developed at the national level may not sufficiently reflect the great diversity of interests across the U.S. to be effective at the local level. Moreover, the search for effective policy is further complicated by theoretical debates about the constitutional framework of federalism, e.g., what limits on national power can be derived from the Tenth Amendment?   

A policy area in the middle of these cross-currents is elementary and secondary education – a subject traditionally under local control, with some oversight by the states. However, during the last four decades – especially since 2001 – the national government's role in education has grown significantly as a result of initiatives by Republican and Democratic administrations. Use the assigned resources to inform yourself about this role and the arguments of its supporters and critics.   

Before writing your initial post, review the assigned resources. To easily access the resources from the Ashford University Library, please see the table located in the Course Materials section.

In your initial post of at least 200-250 words, briefly summarize the national government's education policies. Explain the main pros and cons in the debate about these policies. Evaluate them from two perspectives:

  • The policies’ effectiveness in improving the quality of U.S. elementary and secondary education. (Justify your assessment by clearly explaining your definition of "effectiveness" and how it should be measured or determined.)
  • Their consistency with the constitutional framework of federalism. (Justify your assessment by clearly explaining your interpretation of American federalism's constitutional framework and why federal education policies are or are not consistent with it.)

Meet Your Rep

The Constitution states, "The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States..." (Art. I, Sec. 2). Contrast this with the original constitutional language for the other house of Congress, "The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereof for six Years..." (Art. I, Sec. 3). The phrase "chosen by the Legislature" was changed to "elected by the people" by the 17th Amendment, but not until 1912. In other words, from the beginning the House of Representatives was intended to be exactly what its name suggests –representative of the people. (Note that in 2010 the Tea Party, and some Republican politicians, called for repeal of the 17th Amendment, eliminating the popular vote for Senators. While most Republican politicians have backed away from that view, many Tea Party chapters continue to demand its repeal.)   

Textbook models suggest how members of the House of Representatives may fulfill their constitutional duty to "represent" – the delegate model, the trustee model, the oversight model, and the service model. A weakness of these models is that they ignore the pervasive influence of interest groups, partisanship, and political money (campaign contributions) on the behavior of congressional reps. To what extent do these factors interfere with effective representation?

Before writing your initial post, review the assigned resources. To easily access the resources from the Ashford University Library, please see the table located in the Course Materials section.

After researching your representative by using the assigned resources, identify one important issue directly related to your rep's committee or subcommittee work in Congress. Summarize your representative's position on this focus issue as described on his or her website or illustrated by legislation sponsored by your rep.  Be concrete and specific.  Avoid vague generalities like "my representative is for jobs" or "my Congressman is for national security."

With respect to this focus issue, evaluate your representative's performance as a representative of the people in your legislative district. Justify your assessment from two perspectives:

  • How well does your rep’s position on that issue reflect your district's likely preferences or broad interests on the issue? Support your inferences about the district with fact-based evidence – not just your opinion about the district or your rep’s position on the focus issue. Demonstrate how your rep does or does not reflect his or her constituency on this issue. Consider your rep’s committee memberships and seniority.
  • Discuss fact-based evidence about how interest groups, political party loyalty, or campaign money may influence your representative. Can these influences weaken his or her effectiveness as a true "representative" of the district? Consider whether the district is considered a “safe” seat or a competitive district. Put on your critical thinking cap to respond to this aspect of the question.

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(Top Tutor) Daniel C.
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