How do federal, state, and city laws affect our everyday lives? Where can the government be found on the ground? And what’s the right role for different levels of government to play? With a presidential election on the horizon, and the appropriate role of government in our lives as the hot topic, Jorge Sandoval’s 9th grade US History class at the Academy of Urban Planning set out to answer these questions with the help of CUP teaching artist Stephen Fiehn.
Students looked for evidence of government intervention in their wallets, on the street, and interviewed local businesses about the role of government in their stores. They chatted with Citibank about financial regulation. They dropped by El Cibao restaurant to learn about letter grades. They pressed the pharmacy on prescription rules. After follow-up research on agencies like the FDA, the USDA, and the FDIC, students offered their own opinions on the role of the government in our everyday lives.
The group created this booklet as a teaching tool for history, government, and civics classes. “Government in Plain Sight” lays out activities that teachers can do with their students to better understand the impact that government has on everything from canned soup to big banks. The students presented their work to sixty of their peers who were about to take the US History Regents exam, a test that teems with questions on the concept of federalism.
You can see the booklet here.