What this class is: This class will cover everything about U.S. Presidential elections. We will also add details about differences with other types of elections. We will begin with the primary and caucus processes, delegates, superdelegates, endorsements, campaigning, methods of dividing up delegates in each state, how candidates choose vice presidential running mates, past methods of electing presidents, changes to our laws and Constitution specifically aimed at elections, voting rights, conventions, and other issues that are appropriate in the first half of the election cycle.
Throughout the course, we will focus on the realities of where the two major parties are in terms of selecting their nominees, the importance of the conventions, the possibility of a contested convention, the concept of “delegate revolt,” and more. We will have a dedicated chat room where students will be able to add links or information that they find interesting or important during this time.
In the third part of the course, we will focus on the campaign for the presidency, learn about debates and how outsiders rate each person’s performance, discuss the pros and cons of a two party system, examine other systems of governance, examine political ads, look at recent elections to glean hints at why each candidate is doing certain things, and more.
Students will be encouraged to examine the statements of candidates at all points on the political spectrum, create projects (such as surveys on specific issues), and attend some type of political speech/rally/meeting.
What this class is NOT: This class is not going to be a weekly debate between people who support different candidates. Since it is intended as a very full learning experience about our election processes, I want to steer clear of this sort of thing. Having said that, there will be very specific times (i.e. after a televised debate), when students will be encouraged to share their opinions on what they heard and saw.
Download the “Syllabus” here to get an idea of what we will be doing.
This year, I will be offering a special class called U.S. Elections. Since this is an election year, this is obviously a good time to do this class. There will be two versions of the class, and I will discuss the details of how they will meet separately to hopefully avoid confusion. In terms of content, all materials provided by me, the number of discussions, and so on will be the same. There will simply be a different format for some meetings between the two classes. I am also offering these class for two groups: tweens and teens.
Information about my background and ability to prepare and teach this course: As some who visit this site may know, I have been running programs and classes for kids since 2005, and I have been teaching college courses longer than that. I have a law degree from a top U.S. law school and practiced law for over 11 years. During my time in law school, I was a research associate for a leading international and comparative law professor, and I was heavily involved in legal philosophy, including the legal/philosophical underpinnings of democracy. For instance, I was the only student selected to present a paper at an international legal philosophy conference, with the rest being professors.
After law school, in addition to my practice, I was invited by the University of Illinois to act as a Constitutional Law expert on panel discussions. I received my Master of Arts in History from Illinois with a concentration in legal history. During my college years, my minor was political science.
But, most importantly, those who know me will say that I’m just a big kid and I love working with kids in all types of classes. In 2008, I created a huge website devoted to election law and history for homeschoolers, and I am absolutely kicking myself for not keeping that up.
Capital District Class: The in person version of this class will initially meet with the group of students who began this class in April to foster more involved discussions.
Online Class: This class will meet weekly on with sessions on either Tuesdays or Thursdays (student’s choice). If a different day is needed, we can arrange that.