Archive for the ‘History’ Category

How the Judicial System Works

Monday, May 1st, 2017

how-the-judicial-system-works

The Notgrass Company has decided to expand this government series by sponsoring these blog posts! You guys, as homeschoolers, you have to teach government to your high schoolers anyway, and the Exploring Government book is clear in its explanations, full of modern color pictures, and interesting in its examples (as you’ll see in the mafia counterfeiting illustration below). It makes the study of government actually enjoyable. It’s perfect for Christian homeschoolers. Go buy it already!

In the unit on “The Judiciary,” this Notgrass government book gave a fun example of a fictional counterfeiting ring that sounded like a mafia sting. I had one of my sons modify this story for the next video in our series. We even changed the names to remain incognito, to protect the identities of the original fictional characters. So now, ladies and gentlemen, we present “How the Judicial System Works.”

How the Judicial System Works (dramatization)

A Chicago gangster is counterfeiting money in his basement. Two federal agents break into his house and tell him he in under arrest. They tell him he has the right to remain silent, that anything he says can and would be used against him, that he has the right to have an attorney present at any interrogation. If he can’t afford a lawyer, one will be provided for him.

The gangster (we will call him Bob McBob) is taken to the county jail, then to a federal magistrate two days later, along with his gang’s leader (Fred Fredrickson), who was also arrested. They both plead not guilty to the charge of counterfeiting.

sting-operation

The magistrate set the bond the men had to pay in order to be released from jail until the trial. This money is a promise that they would not run away before the trial. If they did, the state could take their assets. The magistrate set the bond at $500,000 each, which they couldn’t possibly pay. So they had to stay in jail until the trial.

The prosecutor offered McBob a plea bargain. If he would plead guilty, the government would ask for a lesser sentence in exchange for his testimony against Fredrickson.

The federal district judge held pre-trial hearings where he heard defense motions regarding the trial. The defense attorneys asked for a change of venue for the trial to try and get an impartial jury. They also questioned the specificity of the search warrants and asked that the evidence the agents gathered be suppressed.

arresting-counterfeiter

But the judge refused all of these and set a date for the trial.

Before the trial the two sides exchanged witness lists, the prosecuting attorney gathered evidence, and McBob’s defense attorney met with him and discussed the plea bargain. McBob ended up agreeing to the plea bargain.

When the time came, McBob and Fredrickson appeared before the federal district court on charges of counterfeiting. The judge heard the opening statements and the prosecuting attorney called in witnesses. After hearing the witnesses’ and McBob’s testimonies, the jury pronounced them both guilty. The judge sentenced McBob to four years and Fredrickson to ten years in prison.

I hope you enjoyed our re-enactment of “How the Judicial System Works.” Stay tuned for the next episode: The Bill of Rights!

The links in this series of blog posts are not affiliate links. Please buy the book from their website to bless their family the most!

What are the Federal Executive Departments?

Monday, April 24th, 2017

federal-executive-departments

What are the federal executive departments of the United States government? Today we will find out through a series of skits!

We have been using the book Exploring Government by Ray Notgrass for our study of high school government, and we find out that the President’s cabinet members are each in charge of different executive departments. We found out in last week’s episode what the line of succession is for President. Now we will describe each department of the federal government.

The group of people directly under the President is the executive department. (The legislative and judicial departments are the other two branches of government, and these two keep the executive department in check.)

Federal Executive Departments of the U.S. Government

The first executive department is the Department of State. This handles foreign relations and makes treaties, promotes peace, and encourages countries to participate in the war on terrorism, among other things.

Next is the Department of the Treasury, which oversees the economic life of the nation and is involved in how the country participates in the global economy. It also oversees coin minting, printing of paper currency, and the IRS.

Third, the Department of Defense has the job of protecting our nation and its interests. This is our nation’s largest employer, with about 1.4 million men and women on active duty, and 650,000 civilian employees to support them.

Next, we have the Department of Justice, the head of which is the Attorney General. This department works with the FBI and enforces laws of all kinds.

Then there is the Department of the Interior, also referred to as the department of everything else by some people. This department’s responsibilities used to include a lot of agencies that became their own departments later. Now its primary responsibility is to maintain federal national parks.

The Department of Agriculture creates regulations concerning the quality of food farmers produce, inspects and grades food, supervises farm production, and guarantees that farmers get an adequate income through subsidies and price controls.

Next, the Department of Commerce encourages growth in the economy and promotes trade between American and foreign companies. This department includes the United States Patent and Trademark office, among others.

The Department of Labor‘s job is to protect the rights of American workers by enforcing laws regarding non-discrimination and safety in the workplace. This department also collects information about various aspects of worker conditions such as hourly wage and the unemployment rate.

department-of-defense

Next is the Department of Housing and Urban Development. It was created to address the decaying state of many inner city areas and the dilapidated, crime-infested urban areas. It also enforces laws regarding discrimination and safety in apartments.

The Department of Transportation allocates federal funds to road construction and promotes safety in construction sites. It also oversees the transportation infrastructure and makes regulations regarding road safety.

The Department of Health and Human Services has a wide range of tasks from medicare and medicaid, to approving prescription drugs, to certifying the quality of foods and cosmetics sold in America, and much more. It also creates programs to help Native American tribes, the poor, and the elderly.

Next, the Department of Energy encourages energy conservation and supports research in energy technology. It tries to make energy consumption and  production safer and researches alternate renewable sources of energy.

The Department of Education has over 250 programs including training migrant workers, programs for the handicapped, and granting student loans. It also works to prohibit discrimination in schools.

The Department of Veteran’s Affairs is tasked with providing assistance to veterans, especially those with disabilities because of their service. This department provides health care to veterans and their dependents at little or no cost.

And last, but not least, we have the Department of Homeland Security, which handles national emergencies such as natural disasters. It works to prevent terrorist attacks and makes programs to keep the public educated about such attacks. (In the skit, the blue blanket was a tsunami, in case you couldn’t figure it out!)

And there you have it… the Federal Executive Departments of the U.S. Government!

The links in this series of blog posts are not affiliate links. Please buy the book from their website to bless their family the most!

Presidential Line of Succession

Sunday, April 16th, 2017

presidential-line-of-succession

How many of you watch the TV show “Designated Survivor” with Keifer Sutherland? Even though he was the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, he became the next President because of a bombing of the White House. How did a seemingly random person in the cabinet get to be next in line for President? Today we will find out!

We are studying Exploring Government by Ray Notgrass, and this is the fourth post in our high school government series. There is a chart on page 167 that has the “Order of Presidential Succession.” My kids assumed that there were no more after that list, so they wrote a joke at the end of the video that the Secretary of Homeland Security had better not die because there is no one left to run the government! (In reality, there are probably more people in line.)

The Presidential Line of Succession

Vice President
Speaker of the House
President Pro Tempore of the Senate
Secretary of State
Secretary of the Treasury
Secretary of Defense
Attorney General
Secretary of the Interior
Secretary of Agriculture
Secretary of Commerce
Secretary of Labor
Secretary of Health and Human Services
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
Secretary of Transportation
Secretary of Energy
Secretary of Education
Secretary of Veterans Affairs
Secretary of Homeland Security

Presidential Line of Succession (Dramatization)

Watch this fun video to find out who is next in line for President!

I hope you enjoyed watching my children keel over, and the purple hat (representing the President) grabbed and placed on the next President’s head. Did you notice the goggles and light bulb in the hand of the Secretary of Energy? Hopefully this goofy dramatization has answered your question as to which person comes next in the line of presidential succession!

Join us next week for the next episode: “Executive Departments of Government”

The links in this series of blog posts are not affiliate links. Please buy the book from their website to bless their family the most!

Preamble to the Constitution

Monday, April 10th, 2017

preamble-to-the-constitution

The Preamble to the Constitution is iconic in the establishment of the United States of America because it is the first paragraph of our founding document. Why are the people of the United States establishing this Constitution? For five reasons that are enumerated: for justice, tranquility, defense, the general good, and liberty.

These phrases are described in greater detail in Exploring Government by Ray Notgrass. We find out how the general good was taken out of context in later years to fund programs that the founding fathers would have never agreed to. The whole purpose of the government was to preserve basic rights and freedoms, not to tax the people into oblivion by supporting an enormous bureaucracy.

The Preamble to the Constitution (Dramatized!)

“We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

How we dramatized the Preamble to the Constitution:

“We the people of the United States, –Everyone stands around wearing sunglasses and pointing at themselves.

in order to form a more perfect union, –Everyone holds a paper that says “Union,” and they begin scrubbing it to make it better.

establish justice, –A person holds a gavel.

insure domestic tranquility, –Everyone sleeps peacefully.

provide for the common defense, –People hold swords and shields.

promote the general welfare, –Someone holds up a sign with “Safety” on it, with people holding toy cars (representing national freeways and safety of vehicles) and pills (regulating the safety of pharmaceutical drugs).

and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, –A parent passes a paper with “Liberty” on it to her daughter.

do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” –Everyone scribbles on a huge scroll with “Constitution” written on it.

preamble-of-the-constitution

And there you have it, ladies and gentlemen: the Preamble to the Constitution, dramatized to enable you to remember this first paragraph of the founding document of our great nation.

Next up in the high school government series: Presidential Line of Succession!

The links in this series of blog posts are not affiliate links. Please buy the book from their website to bless their family the most!