Houston   GOVT 2306: TEXAS STATE
    Professor of Government

    SPRING 2019
     Section:         70785-045
     Time:             TTh 9:00 - 10:20 am
     Location:       RG30
     Room:           3348
     Session:         January 22 - May 19
    Office Hours:

    RG30 3118
      TTh: 10:20-10:30 am

      TTh: 11:50-12:00 pm

      TTh: 1:20-2:50 pm
   SAC faculty lounge
      MW: 10:20-10:30 am
      MW: 11:50-12:00 pm

      MW: 1:20-1:30 pm

      MW: 2:50-3:30 pm

      or by appointment

     Textbook:    Texas Politics: Governing the Lone Star State    by Cal Jillson

 All new states are invested, more or less, by a class of noisy, second-rate men who are always in favor of rash and extreme measures, but Texas was absolutely overrun by such men.
Sam Houston (1793-1863)


I do NOT lecture the textbook, but I do test you on that material. If you are the sort who needs their knowledge spoonfed to them, then you should consider dropping this course.

The purpose of the course is to acquaint the student with Texas state and local government. The student will be introduced to: (a) a framework for analyzing Texas politics and government; (b) the constitutional basis for Texas government; (c) the processes of Texas politics and government; (d) the institutions of Texas politics and government; and (e) policies of Texas government. Specific behavioral objectives will accompany each unit of instruction.

Additionally it is hoped that students will gain: an understanding of federalism; an awareness of the ways in which government affects/is affected by its citizens; political thinking as part of the process of becoming a more effective citizen; critical thinking skills; and a better understanding of the theoretical nature of government.

The course is divided up into four parts.  Part 1 will provide an overview of Texas history, the Texas Constitution, and federalism.

In Part  2 we will look at institutional elements of policy generation and implementation as well as elections and parties.
Finally, in Part 3 we will look at the institutions of the Texas government, namely the Congress, the Governor, and the Judiciary.

While this is primarily a lecture course, the class may also include videos, transparencies, role-playing simulations, internet activities, writing assignments, and classroom discussions.  Students must attend and participate regularly.

The American dream is not dead. It is gasping for breath, but it is not dead.
Barbara Jordan 


Students with Disabilities: Each ACC campus offers support services for students with documented physical or psychological disabilities. Students with disabilities must request reasonable accommodations through the Student Accessibility Services Office on the campus where they expect to take the majority of their classes. Students are encouraged to do this three weeks before the start of the semester.

Voicemail is abused. Most voicemail that is left is trivial or deals with trivial matters. Most people who leave voicemail ramble. It is not a good thing to waste people's time. I will check it, but it is better to see me in person concerning any issue before or after class, during office hours, or by appointment.

I do not like email.  I realize that we live in a society where people consider email to be a normal means of communication and I will check it, but it is better to see me in person concerning any issue before or after class, during office hours, or by appointment.

I will not respond to email addresses that are clearly not your own.  In other words if you are using your parent's email, then I will not respond to any emails from such addresses.  For example if your name is John Smith and I receive an email that appears to come from “Paul Smith,” then do not expect me to reply.

If you do not have your own email address and you are incapable of getting one, such as one provided by ACC, then you will just need to see me during office hours or after class.

The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.

Winston Churchill

Do NOT ever message or text the professor using Facebook, his personal email address, or his personal cell phone for questions related to the class.  You should view Facebook, personal email, and the personal cell as means of contacting the professor for Austin School business, personal matters, or political activism only.
Each student is expected to attend and participate in each class meeting and to complete the assigned reading PRIOR to each class.  Attendance is a direct component of the final grade (see Classroom Participation and Attendance below).  In addition absences limit the student's opportunity to participate fully and will almost certainly impact the student's essay performance.  Should it be necessary to miss a class a student should contact other class members for copies of the notes and materials covered in that class.  Attendance is required on test days.  Should you miss a test day there will be NO makeup exams, instead your final grade will be based on the tests taken.  Should you miss two or more exams you should consider dropping the course rather than suffering a failing grade. 

Late arrivals and early departures are disruptive so please be on time and plan to stay the entire period unless you have previously spoken to the instructor. Once roll is taken, no late arrivals will be counted as present. Excessive tardiness or failure to follow class policies on cell phones may result in the student being dropped from the course.  Do NOT get up during class to throw something away.  The professor reserves the right to withdraw (drop) anyone from the class for any reason.  This does not mean that you will automatically be withdrawn if you are failing or if you are not attending class.  If you wish to drop the course please make sure to do so yourself.  The instructor will not do it for you.  

If, for any reason, you decide to withdraw from the course you must complete the required forms in the Admissions and Records office.  Make sure to keep up with the official last day to withdraw of the semester. This is the same date for the professor to drop a student, so if you do not drop by this date, there is nothing that the professor can to do help you. This may not be the same date for High School students, so be sure to be in compliance with your High School.
Laptops and Cell phones and text-messaging devices are not allowed in my classroom. They must be turned off and should not be in evidence in the classroom unless you have prior approval from the instructor.  Texting under the desk rarely conceals the activity and usually reflects poorly on the texter. 

Incompletes will not be given to any student for any reason.  If it becomes clear that you will not be able to complete the course please consider dropping the course by the drop deadline.  Failure to complete the required coursework will likely result in lower grade or possibly an 'F' grade.

We enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.
I hope to bring some of that discomfort of thought to the American people.

              John Anderson


Acts prohibited by the college for which discipline may be administered include scholastic dishonesty, including but not limited to cheating on an exam or quiz, plagiarizing, and unauthorized collaboration with another in preparing outside work.  Academic work submitted by students shall be the result of their thought, research, or self-expression.  Academic work is defined as, but not limited to tests, quizzes, whether taken electronically or on paper, projects, either individual or group; classroom presentations, and homework.

If a student commits any of these actions, I will seek disciplinary action in the form of an academic penalty, which will likely include a course grade of 'F.'

Look, I take this very seriously and it has a real simple solution.  If you want to include text from someone else feel free to cite the original author.  It will strengthen your argument and suggest that you have done research on the subject.  Otherwise, I am ruthless and will show no mercy when it comes to plagiarism.  Failure to comply with this rule is almost certain to cause you to fail the course. 

I am delighted to be here with you this evening, because after listening to George Bush all these years, I figured you needed to know what a real Texas accent sounds like.
Governor Ann Richards
1988 Democratic National Convention keynote address

Just as each student is expected to attend class, each student is also expected to participate in the class discussion.  This not only includes preparing for class and listening in class, but also includes asking questions, answering questions, providing examples, and expressing opinions.  This class will be much more educational (as well as interesting) in an atmosphere of active participation and lively exchange of ideas.  There will be numerous opportunities throughout the semester to use current events to explore and expand upon our understanding of the concepts we are studying.  As a result I also expect students to keep up with current events.  If you are not normally in the habit of doing, then so you must plan to begin looking at a reliable news source.  The BBC and Reuters are two examples of the sort.  

In any classroom situation that includes discussion and critical thinking, there are bound to be many differing viewpoints.  These differences enhance the learning experience and create an atmosphere where students and instructors alike will be encouraged to think and learn.  On sensitive and volatile topics, students may sometimes disagree not only with each other but also with the instructor.  It is expected that faculty and students will respect the views of others when expressed in classroom situations.  Each person has the right to express his or her opinion.  Our Bill of Rights not only guarantees us the right to express our opinions but also provides us the opportunity to learn from our fellow citizens as they express their opinions.

All our beliefs are being challenged now, and rightfully so, they're stupid.

Bill Hicks


The Austin Community College District concealed handgun policy ensures compliance with Section 411.2031 of the Texas Government Code (also known as the Campus Carry Law), while maintaining ACC's commitment to provide a safe environment for its students, faculty, staff, and visitors.

Beginning August 1, 2017, individuals who are licensed to carry (LTC) may do so on campus premises except in locations and at activities prohibited by state or federal law, or the college's concealed handgun policy.

It is the responsibility of license holders to conceal their handguns at all times. Persons who see a handgun on campus are asked to contact the ACC Police Department by dialing 222 from a campus phone or 512-223-7999.

Three exams will be given during this semester as noted on the Course Schedule.  In addition to this your grade will include a Classroom Participation component and Auxiliary Assignments.

Writing assignments or take home essays will be turned into (  Papers handed to the professor should be assumed lost and NO credit will be received for them.  Never treat a written assignment as a summarization.  You are to ask and answer some question of political significance.  Be creative, but also make sure to support your thesis and any claims made around it.  The class ID and enrollment passwords are listed below:

class ID:


enrollment password:


EVALUATION             1,000 POINT SCALE
                                     POINTS TOWARDS









PARTICIPATION                  _




Final letter grades will be assigned after determining total points earned, as follows:

    Final  Grade Scale              Letter Grade    
          900 - 1100                         A    
           800 - 899                          B    
           700 - 799                          C    
           600 - 699                          D    
               0 - 599                          F    

Exams may be conducted as an in class test or as a take-home exam at the professor's discretion.  If an essay is assigned as take-home, that portion of the exam must be turned into (see above).  The exams will include both objective and essay questions.

There are NO make-up exams. Should you miss an exam, your grade will be calculated as if you missed the first exam, regardless of which exam you missed. In other words, if you miss an exam the highest grade that you can receive for the class will be 900 points (unless you make up for it with auxiliary assignments).  If you miss two exams, then the highest grade that you can receive for the class will be a 70%.  Sometimes things come up in life that we cannot control.  The first exam can serve as a sort of insurance policy, so that you will not be completely lost should you miss a test.
Arrangements can be made to take the first and second exam in the Testing Center if the professor is informed of a need to miss the regularly scheduled exam prior to the exam date.  NO arrangement can take place on or after the date of the test.  Due to Testing Center policy and since a new exam is generated every semester, NO such arrangement can be made for the Final Exam.

It should also be noted that there seems to be a high learning curve on exams in this course.  It has been the experience of the professor that people tend to do poorly on the first exam even if they ultimately earn an 'A' in the class.  The first exam should be regarded as a lesson in learning how to take exams for this course. 

Classroom participation is worth 150 points (one and a half letter grades).  The best way to earn a high participation grade is to ask questions, answer questions, and contribute insights when appropriate.  This is NOT a license to be obnoxious.  In fact, being obnoxious will harm your classroom participation grade.

Attendance will be taken at the start of every class period.  Failure to be on time will mean that you will not be counted as in attendance.  You can miss one class period for free.  For every class period after the first one that you are absent, you will lose 40 points from your classroom participation grade.  There will be no excused absences.  In this manner you can render your classroom participation grade into a negative quantity.  In other words, attendance could turn into a bottomless pit of grade annihilation. If you arrive after attendance has finished being called, then you will be marked as absent.

If you use a laptop you must sit in the front row, otherwise you will be marked as absent.

There are eight ways to earn these 0-250 points (a maximum of two and a half letter grades).
1) Lectures: You can attend an Austin School Lecture Series talk, an Austin School Political Science Student Conference panel, or other speaking event announced by your professor. If you go to these event to get credit you must bring back proof that you attended or sign in a sign-in sheet at the event. (40 points).  Note: these are rare in the Summer and may not happen at all.  Your professor will make every means to provide you with such opportunities if they arise and he becomes aware of them.

2) 60 Minutes: You can write an 300 word essay about a political topic from a single story from 60 Minutes  The exact episode and story from that episode is up to you.  However, since this essay MUST be political, so you will likely want to avoid writing about topics like Penelope Cruz, as fun as they might be.  (25 points)

3) Frontline: You can write a 300 word essay about a political topic from a single story from Frontline  The exact episode is up to you.  However, since this essay MUST be political you will want to pick a story with political implications.  You may do more than one Frontline, each subsequent frontline can be turned into the Movie Review slots on and count as 25 points each.  (40 points)

4) Radiolab: You can write a 300 word essay about any topic from a single story from Radiolab  The exact episode is up to you.  You may not do more than one Radiolab for credit.  (40 points)

5) Online Lecture: You can write a 600 word political analysis on the following lecture. "A Reconsideration of Modernity" (80 points)  

6) Movie Reviews: You can write 300 word film review for up to a maxium of seven of the following movies: (20-75 points each)

Bobby (20)
Incident at Oglala (20)
Charlie Wilson's War (20)
Lone Star (20)
Recount (20)
W. (20)
Monsters (2010) (20)
Agora (20)
The Big Short (20)
Baraka (25)
Being There (1979) (30)
Smartest Guys in the Room (30)
Last Man Standing: Politics, Texas Style (30)
Where to Invade Next (40)
Eyes on the Prize (1987) (75) (6 hours)

7) Research Project: You may write a 6,000-9,000-word research paper on a Professor Casagranda approved political science topic. (75)

8) Austin School Political Science Student Conferenec presentation: If your Research Paper is turned in no later than April 1 and approved by Professor Casagranda, then you may present it at the ASPSSC in the week of May 7. To earn these points, you must actually present your paper on a panel at the conference. (50)

For options 2-7 you must turn in your work to (see instructions above).

1. Attend all class sessions; if you miss a class get copies of the handouts/notes from a classmate.
2. Do not miss tests.  It may be tempting to miss the first exam, but don't.
3. Read the assigned material prior to each class session.
4. Study the materials; prepare for and take each exam as scheduled.
5. Complete and turn in all assignments as assigned and on time.  NO LATE ASSIGNMENTS WILL BE ACCEPTED FOR ANY REASON AFTER CLASS BEGINS ON THE DUE DATE.
6. Contact the instructor if, at any time, you feel your performance is not up to your standards.

1. Writing Ability
2. Reading Ability
3. Critical Thinking and Analytical Sills
4. Memorization

If you can master these four forces, then you can succeed in academia.  To the extent possible this class will attempt to assist in developing all four skills further.  However, it should be obvious that English classes are generally where the above skills (especially the first two) are formally taught.  It is assumed that you have had English classes and that you will apply that skill set to all writing assignments.






The Republic of Texas



1/24, 1/29, 1/31

What Came Before

Chapter 1

2/5, 2/7

The Birth of Texas

Chapter 1

2/12, 2/14, 2/19, 2/221


Chapter 2

2/26, 2/28

Texas Constitutions

Chapter 2



Successful politicians are insecure and intimidated men. They advance politically only as they placate, appease, bribe, seduce, bamboozle or otherwise manage to manipulate the demanding and threatening elements in their constituencies

Walter Lippmann

The Façade  

3/7, 3/12, 3/14


Chapter 3

3/19, 3/21




3/26, 3/28

Elections and Parties

Chapter 5

4/2, 4/4

Race Politics


The Bureaucracy and the Governor

Chapters 7



If these observations be just, our government ought to secure the permanent interests of the country against innovation. Landholders ought to have a share in the government, to support these invaluable interests, and to balance and check the other. They ought to be so constituted as to protect the minority of the opulent against the majority.

James Madison

The Machine

4/16, 4/23, 4/25

The Legislature

Chapter 6

4/30, 5/2, 5/7

Public Policy

Chapter 10


The Judiciary

Chapter 8


Local Government

Chapter 9




All Auxiliary Assignments are due by 11:59 PM to

I call him Governor Bush because that's the only political office he's ever held legally.
George Carlin

Barbara JordanBarbara Jordan (1936-1996)

The instructor reserves the right to modify any portion of the syllabus at any time.  The Course Schedule is meant as a guide; treat the rest as law.