GOVT 2306 Texas Government







Fall 2018                                                                                                                                                    

Location:                                                                                        GOVT 2306      M-W: 7:00pm to 8:20pm



Eoles B. Whitaker II  

Adjunct Professor                                                                                                                                                                 


School of Public Affairs                                                                                               [email protected] Office: TBA                                        

Office hours: By appointment 



Course Outline


Political Science 2306 – Texas Government


Course Description:

This course investigates the structure and capacity of Texas government by giving an expansive based prologue to the political and government frameworks of the State. Also, the course provides the framework to analyze state and neighborhood (local) government, the constitutional reason for it, and the procedures, institutions and policies of state government. The course will compare the realities of Texas government and politics with the democratic ideals of participation, majority rule, minority rights, and equality. In addition, it will also introduce you to current political issues, poverty, education, ethnic, and ideological conflict. The examination will incorporate the reading material as an essential topical guide, however it will likewise draw from different sources by contemporary experts and researchers.


Following an introduction to Texas political and civic culture, the course will focus on four major areas:

  • An introduction to state policymaking, constitutional development and federalism;
  • The structure and institutions of Texas government, budget policy and local government;
  • Texas electoral politics, with attention given to public opinion, the media, social media, religion and politics, voting, political parties, and interest groups; and
  • Current major policy areas including: health care, education, poverty and criminal justice.




Grading Scale

Class Attendance                                            10%

Papers | Assignment                                       20%

Discussion                                                       20%

Midterm                                                          25%

Final Examination                                          25%

Letter grades will be assigned based on the system assigned by the School.


Detailed description of each grading component: 

Grading Scale: 90-100% = A, 80-89.99% = B, 70-79.99% = C, 60-69.99% = D, 0-59.99% = F.


Classroom expectations (concert rules) 

  • Class will start and end on time
  • Late entry is only permitted under exceptional circumstances   
  • All phones, laptops, tablets and other electronic devices are to be turned off during class
  • Discussion Participation is an expectation and requirement, and those that do not will receive negative marks towards their grades


Course Policies 

Office hours: In order to accommodate schedules among students, my office hours are by appointment. Please send me an email when you would like to meet and we will find a mutually agreeable time. I encourage you to set up a meeting with me when you have questions, concerns or need help.  

Attendance: Attendance is mandatory for all class meetings. Exceptions will be permitted for medical or family emergencies on a case-by-case basis. All unexcused absences will negatively impact your grade. For every class, you are expected to be on time for the start of the session. Tardiness will automatically affect your grade negatively. 

In-class discussions: Learning how to contribute emphatically to a beneficial dialog is a standout amongst the most basic parts of this class. Along these lines you are required to take an interest routinely with the goal that the entire class can benefit from the process. I empower an exceptionally open and free-flowing classroom atmosphere with the goal that everybody feels comfortable sharing their thoughts. However, this requires that you show mutual respect for the opinions of your fellow students and are able to deal with criticism in a constructive manner. 

Tardiness of assignments: Assignments are expected to be delivered on time. In the event students submit an assignment late, they must notify me in advance. For each day it is late, the assignments grade will be affected negatively. Exceptions for medical or family emergencies will be allowed on a case by case basis.

Collaboration: A focal component of this class is the group extent that you will be conducting with some of your colleagues. This assignment is intended to foster shared aptitudes and enhance your capacity to work in teams. You will have the capacity to frame your own groups, but in the event there is discord within the group during work on the project alternative measures will be taken. Please arrange a meeting with me so that I can help you resolve any issues. For the team project you should collaborate as closely as possible, you are not permitted to collaborate with your colleagues for the preparation of the in-class discussion or individual assignments. These have to be entirely your own work. 

Academic Honesty and Plagiarism: Houston Community College and I take academic integrity very seriously and it is important as part of your education to learn how to distinct work from others properly. In addition, the usage of materials from GOVT 2306 courses in prior years or from other professors is not permitted. Similarly, only materials explicitly designated for the preparation of in-class discussions are allowed. For all the work that you submit, any quotations of external material must be explicitly noted in the text. Any suspected case of cheating or plagiarism will be reported immediately. Deficient attribution of external sources will result in formal charges of plagiarism. If at any point in time you have questions about how to cite work that is not your own or have any doubts otherwise, please consult with me. Please also refer to HCC’s Code of Academic Integrity for further information.


Papers and Assignments

All assignments and papers must be original work! Plagiarizing will NOT be tolerated and will result in an automatic assignment grade of zero (0). Multiple plagiarizing infractions will be brought to the university administration at which time further action will be taken.


Paper format:

  • Double spaced with 1 inch margins
  • 12 pt, Times New Roman, Cambria, or Calibri font
  • Heading must include:


CLASS w/section


  • Papers will be checked for grammatical correctness, clarity of argument, and specificity of research.


Required Core Objectives:

  • Critical Thinking Skills – to increase creative thinking, innovation, inquiry and analysis, evaluation and synthesis of information


  • Communication Skills – to include effective development, interpretation and expression of ideas through written, oral, and visual communication


  • Social Responsibility – to include intercultural competence, knowledge of civic responsibility, and the ability to engage effectively in regional, national, and global communities


  • Personal Responsibility – to include the ability to connect choices, actions, and consequences to ethical decision making




Learning Outcomes:

Upon completion of this course, students will:


  1. Explain the origin and development of Texas Constitution, and Texas politics.
  2. Describe state and local political systems and their relationship with the federal government.
  3. Describe separation of powers, checks and balances; in both theory and practice in Texas Government.
  4. Demonstrate knowledge of the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of Texas. Government.
  5. Evaluate the role of public opinion, interest groups, and political parties in the State of Texas.
  6. Analyze the state and local election process.
  7. Identify the rights and responsibilities of citizens.
  8. Analyze issues, policies, and political culture of Texas.




Current Issue Report – Group Work


Intent: The objective of this project is to give you an essential system for breaking down and assessing the information sources for any policy issue. With this approach and research model, you will have the ability to get to the data you need to develop an informed opinion on a wide range issues.

Assignment: Teams will be organized the start of the term, and students will be asked to choose a topic. Over the span of the semester, every student will submit diverse sorts of articles on the issue. After each group member has discovered an article, the team will review all articles from each member and select the articles that best meets the criteria. The articles chosen by the team will be utilized for the 'current issue report'. Prior to the conclusion the semester, each team will present a 6 page, double spaced report that depicts the issue, examines the historical backdrop of the issue, clarifies why and how government is addressing the issue, and concludes with at least 2 distinctive "qualified" opinions on the issue.


REQUIRED Textbook:

The State of Texas: Government, Politics, and Policy, 3rd Edition; Sherri Mora | William Ruger

Study aides include the following for each chapter: Learning Objectives; Chapter Review; Chapter Self-Test; Key Terms; and Further Readings.


ISBN: 978-1-259-54821-5



Recommended Reading(s): Texas Observer, Dallas Morning News, Texas Tribune, Wall Street Journal, Politico, the Economist, Al Jazeera, view: FOX, CNN, BBC News and MSNBC.


Resource Material



Course Schedule:



Class 1(Monday, August 27th):

Class 2(Wednesday, August 29th):

Class 3(Monday, September 3rd): Test 1

Class 4(Wednesday, September 5th):

Class 5(Monday, September 10th):

Class 6(Wednesday, September 12th):

Class 7(Monday, September 17th):  Chapter Quiz

Class 8(Wednesday, September 19th):

Class 9(Monday, September 24th):

Class 10(Wednesday, September 26th): Chapter Quiz

Class 11(Monday, October 1st):

Class 12(Wednesday, October 3rd): 5-page paper

Class 13(Monday, October 8th): Midterm Review

Class 14(Wednesday, October 10th):

Class 15(Monday, October 15th): Midterm Exam

Class 16(Wednesday, October 17th):

Class 17(Monday, October 22nd):

Class 18(Wednesday, October 24th): 5-page paper

Class 19(Monday, October 29th): Chapter Quiz

Class 20(Wednesday, October 31st):

Class 21(Monday, November 5th):

Class 22(Wednesday, November 7th):

Class 23(Monday, November 12th): Chapter Quiz

Class 24(Wednesday, November 14th):

Class 25(Monday, November 19th):

Class 26(Wednesday, November 21st): Chapter Quiz

Class 27(Monday, November 26th):

Class 28(Wednesday, November 28th): Group 1 Presentation

Class 29(Monday, December 3rd): Group 2 Presentation

Class 30(Wednesday, December 5th): Group 3 Presentation

Class 31(Monday, December 10th): Final Review

Class 32(Wednesday, December 12th): Final Exam

*Current Issue Articles are due everyday*

***Note: This schedule is subject to change based on the progression of in-class lecture. At certain points in time we may find ourselves falling behind or moving a little ahead during the term. I will do my best to adhere to this schedule, and if any changes or augmentations occur I will give the students ample notice in class. ***


First, I want to say I want all my students to do well in my class. To try to help students achieve this I present the material in a variety of venues. I primarily use power point to highlight key concepts, themes, and subjects and elaborate on each point during lecture. Whenever appropriate I will diagram and highlight key materials on the canvas and use include video clips, the internet, and audio clips to supplement my lectures.

It is very important to note that reading all the assigned material is required before class begins. The reading load is not very heavy and averages about a chapter a week. If the students chooses to read 5-10 pages of the textbook per day, they should have absolutely no problem keeping up with the all the readings. Reading is very important because I may not be able to lecture on all the material in the book, but all the material covered in the book is fair game for exams!

I do try to provide brief in-class reviews for examinations if time allows, but no guarantees.


Exam 1: Will cover Chapters 1-6 of the required text. This exam will be made up of multiple choice (which could include fill in the blank, true/false statements, and choosing the best answer); Short Answers and/or Essays.

Exam 2: Will cover Chapters 7-12 of the required text. This exam will be made up of multiple choice (which could include fill in the blank, true/false statements, and choosing the best answer); Short Answers and/or Essays.

Exam 3: Will cover Chapters 13-17 of the required text. This exam will also be made up of multiple choice (which could include fill in the blank, true/false statements, and choosing the best answer); Short Answers and/or Essays.

Debate: Students will be placed in 2 different groups for the purpose of the debate assignment. Students must meet at least 2 times in preparation for the debate. Each group will elect a reporter and a spokesperson who will serve in their capacities for the entire semester. A rubric will be given to students in class as well as gone over for full understanding at that time.

On-line Class Participation: Students are required to participate in 24 hours of on-line

class, including weekly interactive class forums about chapter readings, current events, and debate preparation


The grade of "I" (Incomplete) is conditional. A student receiving an "I" must arrange with the instructor to complete the course work within six months of the end of the incomplete term. After the deadline, the "I" becomes an "F." Upon completion of the coursework, the grade will be entered as I/grade on the student transcript. All "I"s must be changed to grades prior to graduation.

Student Notification Statements:

FINAL GRADE: Students who stop attending class and do not complete at least 60% of the course, and do not withdraw themselves prior to the withdrawal deadline may either be dropped by their professor for excessive absences or be assigned the final grade of "FX" at the end of the semester. Students who stop attending classes will receive a grade of "FX", compared to an earned grade of "F" which is due to poor performance. Logging into a DE course without active participation is seen as non-attending. Please note that HCC will not disperse financial aid funding for students who have never attended class. Students who receive financial aid but fail to attend class will be reported to the Department of Education and may have to pay back their aid. A grade of "FX" is treated exactly the same as a grade of "F" in terms of GPA, probation, suspension, and satisfactory academic progress.

EGLS3 (Evaluation for Greater Learning Student Survey System)

At Houston Community College, professors believe that thoughtful student feedback is necessary to improve teaching and learning. During a designated time near the end of the term, you will be asked to answer a short online survey of research-based questions related to instruction. The anonymous results of the survey will be made available to your professors and department chairs for continual improvement of instruction. Go to for more information.


HCC POLICY STATEMENTS & Learning Disabilities

ADA: HCC strives to make all learning experiences as accessible as possible. If you anticipate or experience academic barriers based on your disability (including mental health, chronic or temporary medical conditions), please meet with a campus Abilities Counselor as soon as possible in order to establish reasonable accommodations. Reasonable accommodations are established through an interactive process between you, your instructor(s) and Ability Services. It is the policy and practice of HCC to create inclusive and accessible learning environments consistent with federal and state law. For more information, please go to

Houston Community College is committed to cultivating an environment free from inappropriate conduct of a sexual or gender-based nature including sex discrimination, sexual assault, sexual harassment, and sexual violence. Sex discrimination includes all forms of sexual and gender-based misconduct and violates an individual’s fundamental rights and personal dignity. Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex-including pregnancy and parental status-in educational programs and activities. If you require an accommodation due to pregnancy please contact an Abilities Services Counselor. The Director of EEO/Compliance is designated as the Title IX Coordinator and Section 504 Coordinator. All inquiries concerning HCC policies, compliance with applicable laws, statutes, and regulations (such as Title VI, Title IX, and Section 504), and complaints may be directed to:

David Cross

Director EEO/Compliance

Office of Institutional Equity & Diversity

3100 Main

(713) 718-8271

Houston, TX 77266-7517 or Houston, TX 77266-7517 or [email protected]

Student Rights and Responsibilities: It is important that every student understands and conforms to respectful behavior while at HCC. Sexual misconduct is not condoned and will be addressed promptly. Know your rights and how to avoid these difficult situations.

Log in to Sign in using your HCC student e-mail account, then go to the button at the top right that says Login and enter your student number.

HCC Policy Statement: Academic Honesty

HCCS students are responsible for conducting themselves with honor and integrity in fulfilling course requirements. Penalties and/or disciplinary proceedings may be initiated by HCC System officials against a student accused of scholastic dishonesty.

"Scholastic dishonesty" includes, but is not limited to, cheating on a test, plagiarism, and collusion. Cheating on a test includes but is not limited to: Copying from another student's


test paper; using unauthorized materials during a test, unauthorized collaboration with another student during a test; knowingly using, buying, selling, stealing, transporting, or soliciting in whole or part the contents of a test; and bribing another person to obtain a copy of a test. Plagiarism includes the appropriation of another's work and the unacknowledged incorporation of that work in one's own written work. Collusion includes the unauthorized collaboration with another person in preparing written work. Possible punishments for academic dishonesty may include a grade of 0 or F in the particular assignment, failure in the course, and/or recommendation for probation or dismissal from the College System. (See the Student Handbook)


First, ALL WITHDRAWAL are up to the student. If you fail to withdrawal from the class by the required withdrawal date do not ask me to do it for you, because no matter what the reason is I WILL NOT.

Students who take a course for the third time or more must now pay significant tuition/fee increases at HCC and other Texas public colleges and universities. At HCC, it is an additional $50 per credit hour. If you are considering course withdrawal because you are not earning passing grades, confer with your instructor/ counselor as early as possible about your study habits, reading and writing homework, test-taking skills, attendance, course participation, and opportunities for tutoring or other assistance that might be available. Also, the state of Texas has passed a new law limiting new students (as of Fall 2007) to no more than six withdrawals throughout their academic career in obtaining a baccalaureate degree.

Repeating Courses:

As a result of recent Texas legislative changes, please be advised that HCC is charging additional tuition for students who enroll in the same class three or more times at HCC. While it is the hope of HCC that students will be successful in their first attempt at classes, we realize that life demands, academic struggles, and other issues may result in students needing to take the same class more than once. Speaking with an advisor will help you develop student success skills, improving your overall academic performance. If a student repeats a course in which a grade (A-F) has been received, the highest grade received at HCC is the permanent grade for the course and will be used in computing the GPA. All grades earned in a given course will be reflected on the transcript. Other colleges may compute the GPA differently than HCC.

Link to Academic Calendar:

HCC Student Handbook:

Please note that it is each student’s responsibility to read and be familiar with the HCC Student Handbook. Please see: Campus Carry:

At HCC the safety of our students, staff, and faculty is our first priority. As of August 1, 2017, Houston Community College is subject to the Campus Carry Law (SB11 2015). For more information, visit the HCC Campus Carry web paged at:


Any student who may be facing challenges in affording or accessing sufficient food to eat every day, or who lacks a safe and stable place to live, and believes this may affect their performance in the course, is encouraged to contact the Dean of Students Success for support. Additionally, please notify your professor (me) if you are comfortable in doing so. This will enable me to provide you with guidance on resources that I am aware of relating to essential needs.



Any student who faces challenges securing their foods or housing and believes this may affect their performance in the course is urged to contact the Dean of Student Success for support. Furthermore, please notify the professor if you are comfortable in doing so. This will enable us to provide any resources that HCC may possess.


  • Use of recording devices, including camera phones and tape recorders, is prohibited in classrooms, laboratories, faculty offices, and other locations where instruction, tutoring, or testing occurs. Students with disabilities who need to use a recording device as a reasonable accommodation should contact the Office for Students with Disabilities for more information.
  • Not being respectful of the instructor or other students will not be tolerated during lecture. This includes any type of disruption during the course of lecturing or discussion. Adult behavior is expected. Disruptive or inappropriate behavior/ activities which interfere with teaching and/or learning will not be tolerated and may result in an administrative withdrawal without refund.




  • We must be mindful of others and their views. We will be discussing hot button issues in today’s society. Inevitably, disagreements will arise. This is OK, and debate is encouraged. But it is important to maintain a high level of decorum during these discussions and treat your colleagues with the up-most respect. In addition, please use appropriate language in the classroom.





***This entire syllabus is preliminary and subject to change. ***



Feedback: I encourage anyone with specific or general inquiries in regards to the course structure, content or discussions to meet with me or to contact me by means of email. As we get deeper into the semester, I will disseminate an informal assessment to gather feedback from you on the course.