Economics and government should be taught together

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By  Lizbeth Solorzano

I have seven weeks left to burn an entire year’s worth of course material into my brain before I take the Advanced Placement (AP) government test in May to earn college credit. While it seems difficult to learn everything within this time period, it seems doable for AP Government and Politics because the test is at least at the end of the semester and all the information will be fresh in my brain, having spent the last 15 weeks learning all the functions of the government. 

However, I have completely forgotten the course material from my fall semester AP course, Macroeconomics.

Trying to learn a seemingly foreign subject like economics in 18 weeks was difficult to begin with, but trying to remember even a lick of the material after several months of not reviewing it even once is even harder. And on top of that, I have no time to worry about reviewing economics due to my intense workload in my current government class.

In order to help seniors like me prepare for both tests, schools should have teachers teach both AP Economics and AP Government and Politics together in a full-year course rather than implement a two semester system because it would help students retain information for longer periods of time. This way, by the time AP exams come to devour students near the end of the school year, they can put up a confident fight with their mightier-than-the-sword pens instead of staring blankly at the questions. 

After asking 43 AP students enrolled in AP Government and Politics and AP Macroeconomics classes, 67 percent of students responded that they would prefer a blended course with both government and economics taught simultaneously in a year long class. 

Because more students enjoy learning about Government and Politics over Macroeconomics, it would be better to have a year long course over a semester course focusing primarily on Government and Politics. Economics could be as a supplement to discussions of government and politics.

With the administration of a blended year-long course, students would be able to learn everything necessary for the AP tests, as well as how these subjects apply to life and to each other. For example, when learning economics, students could bring in tax forms to fill out with their teacher’s assistance. 

One semester is not enough time for students to learn the importance of a subject, only the important material for the AP test. With a blended year-long course, students would have more time to learn both AP exam material as well as applications to real-life situations. For instance, students could compare a court case like Marbury v. Madison to a more current court case and learn the importance of the case as it relates to today’s legal infrastructure, rather than just memorizing facts and dates. 

Taft Charter High School uses a system which combines both economics and government in a year-long class, and those students often feel prepared and retain more information than I feel that we do.

“We focus primarily on government but the second semester is mostly about the budget. We learn macroeconomics and how it’s run by the government so the subjects intertwine and we have a better understanding,” senior Taft student Tyler Geraty said. 

In the survey of 43 GHC AP students, about 65 percent of students responded that they felt only somewhat ready or not ready at all for the AP exam. Many of them agreed that one semester was not enough time. It is also unfair for students taking one class first semester to have to learn the material in 18 weeks while the second semester students have 20 weeks, still having the material fresh in their minds for the AP exam in May. 

Given the current situation in which people are urged to practice social distancing, I feel even more discouraged to take my AP Macroeconomics exam because my teacher is limited to Google Hangouts rather than in-person study sessions during the second semester. Knowing I can ask my teacher any question right then and there is better than waiting for an email response. With each passing day I sit at home with limited resources to fully prepare for my exam. I can feel what is left of my economic course material that I remember fade away. If only I had more time to practice, the material would still be stuck to my brain. 

Implementing a blend of government and politics as well as economics course material would be more beneficial to students than a two semester system. Students would have enough time to learn politics and how we manage our country’s budget, as well as learning to become functioning young adults in society. 

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