Print and distribute Harrisburg, We Have A Problem from our Gerrymandering 101 series. Or, if your classroom has access to computers or tablets, have students read directly from the website.

If you don't feel like you have time to move through the full article, or may have some struggling readers in your class, you can focus on the sections "A nest of ills" and "An ancient tactic, weaponized."

Students should read and discuss the text. Questions for the students to consider:

  • In “A nest of ills,” what is gerrymandering?
  • Describe the section “An ancient tactic, weaponized.”
  • Why was PA’s map “rigged?”
  • In “The damaging march to the fringes” how was the gerrymandered PA map not-so-competitive for Republicans and Democrats alike?
  • What impact does such a situation have on how our representatives behave?
  • Read the section “Compromise, get outta town!” and propose a solution to this situation.

At the conclusion of this activity, students should understand the following main points:

  • Big data and technological advancements have allowed political pros to very carefully choose their voters, instead of the other way around.
  • Both parties gerrymander maps when given the chance (Republicans in PA and NC, Democrats in MD and IL).
  • Politicians have to worry more about primary challenges from more ideological members of their own party than a competitive general election.
  • This leads to very little compromise and lots of gridlock in government.