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Commonwealth Data Point: Transparency at Work in Virginia,

Commonwealth of Virginia

Commonwealth Data Point is an excellent tool for understanding the basic implementation of financial expenditures. Find out budget data, or what was purchased on the state credit card. The website also provides demographic data, such as university enrollment and food stamp use. While browsing the website, you may want to consider how state and local governments implement policy decisions. What changes could you make to policy or spending practices?

Data.gov,

Executive Branch of the Federal Government

This website is part of President Obama's Open Government Initiative. It provides free, open access to quanitative datasets created by the Federal government. Some state/local governments have also added data, but as yet Virginia is not one of them. Data sets include categories such as geography and environment, education and transportation. This data provides excellent primary source material, and offers many opportunities to create and interpret maps, diagrams, tables, charts, graphs, and spreadsheets.

Gapminder,

Gapminder Foundation

Gapminder provides free access to statistics (usually gathered from the United Nations) presented in moving data visualization charts. These statistics aren’t boring—data sets flow over time and offer surprising insights into public health, trade, and other issues. Users can select states such as Virginia and compare them to hundreds of countries throughout the world, including China, the United Kingdom, and Mexico. Statistics track a variety of indicators, including income, insurance “uncoverage,” immigration, and “best teeth.” Users can watch a video tutorial, as well as videos applying the information to real-world scenarios. This website is particularly useful for anyone learning about graphs, public policy issues, and the relationship between Virginia and the rest of the world.

A Guide to Writing about Virginia Indians and Virginia Indian History,

Virginia Council on Indians

This document is a concise, two-page guide to writing and thinking about Virginia Indians and their history. The information is equally useful for teaching a class, writing a research paper, or having a conversation.

What are important…

Virginia Council on Indians: Resources,

Virginia Council on Indians

The Virginia Council on Indians (VCI) is a state advisory board to the Governor and the General Assembly. Some Council activities include conducting research, making recommendations regarding issues such as tribal recognition, and promoting education about Virginia's Indian tribes. This resource page provides links to such websites as the American Indian Studies department at Virginia Tech, as well as pdf downloads of teaching materials. Don't miss the rest of the VCI website, where there's information about Native Americans in Virginia, tracing your genealogy, and state recognition of Indian tribes. This website is also a great resource for anyone looking for an example of the implementation of public policy.

Public Education: What is the State’s Responsibility ,

Deborah Sprenger

Public education remains one of the primary responsibilities shared between state and local government. The Constitution of the Commonwealth of Virginia requires the General Assembly to provide a system of free public schools. That provision has been…

Budget Hero Game,

American Public Media

Budget Hero gives players an opportunity to try to manage the Federal budget by making budget decisions without breaking the bank. Players can choose up to three major issues to focus on, such as  national defense, health and wellness, energy independence, and efficient government. The game provides details about individual issues (such as funding for mass transit and other infrastructure), which can inform players about some of the major policy issues being dicussed right now. The game is aimed at the Federal budget, but some of the policy decisions affect state and local governments.

Public Agenda: Helping Americans Explore Today's Issues,

Public Agenda

This website provides a wealth of up-to-date coverage of current issues, from America's role in the international community to Social Security. A large section for educators includes resources for teachers, students, parents, and leaders. Topics such as the rising cost of college tuition are particularly relevant for those involved in education. While there are limited resources specifically aimed at Virginia, the broader issues covered by the website can easily be oriented to fit discussions about their specific application on the state and local level.

Local Government in Action: Wise County Board of Supervisors,

Wise County, Virginia

The Wise County Board of Supervisors offers a prime example of the executive branch in a local jurisdiction. This website offers meeting agendas and minutes, as well as a TV broadcast of Board meetings. The Wise County website is one among many local government websites that address this issue—you can even find your own local government!

Office of the Lieutenant Governor,

Office of the Lieutenant Governor

This is the official website of the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia. Similar to the official Governor’s website, this website includes news and press releases from the Lieutenant Governor’s office. Another useful section is a history of the office of Lieutenant Governor, which talks about the changing role of the Lieutenant Governor. The position stretches back to colonial times: the King of England appointed a Governor, who then appointed a Lieutenant Governor. Learning about the Governor’s second-in-command helps create a better understanding of how executive power is shared.

Interested in the executive branch in Virginia? Why not check out the Governor’s website as well?