Teacher’s Talk: Presidential Politics (June 23 and June 24)

We have had a great first two days at VAMPY!  We have 11 students in our class that come from a variety of different places.  Yesterday morning the class had a good discussion over criteria historians use to evaluate our country’s presidents.  The students then took a pre-assessment over the administrations of Richard Nixon & Jimmy Carter.  After lunch, students came up with a list of famous decisions presidents made that changed our country.  Students then went to the library to take a political survey so they could see which side of the political scale they matched up with.  After returning from the library, students were placed into groups and had a mini-debate over whether the minimum wage should be raised this year as part of our current events we examine each day.  Monday night during study hall, students took their assigned book and completed a ranking task activity over what events they considered to be the most important part of Richard Nixon’s legacy as president.  The curriculum to our class starts with Richard Nixon’s presidency & goes through Barack Obama.

Tuesday morning, we started examining the issues that were a part of the 1968 election. Three students role-played the candidates during that important election (Picture seen below).  Sterling played George Wallace, Noemi played Richard Nixon & Brock played Hubert Humphrey.  Needless to say, it was quite an entertaining debate as each had to pretend they were the actual people running for president in 1968.  After reading the court case ‘Gregory v. Chicago’ that dealt with the rights of peaceful protesters, we spent part of the day examining some of the important events during Nixon’s first term as we discussed the major foreign policy & domestic issues that shaped the years 1969 to 1972.  After lunch, students went to the library to research the famous court case in 1971, ‘New York Times. v. United States’, that dealt with the Pentagon Papers & censorship prior to publication.  Some of the students then compared that case to current events involving Edward Snowden in the leaking of the NSA documents.  We then came back to class and finished our discussion over Nixon’s first term before the students voted on whether or not they would have sided with the government or the New York Times in 1971.  Students then were put into two groups where their group was given a position in that court case & they had to defend their position.

Today, we will finish discussing Nixon’s second term by role-playing the 1972 election & the court case ‘United States v. Richard Nixon.’  We will also examine another Supreme Court case tomorrow ‘Roe v. Wade,’ in addition to examining the brief presidency of Gerald Ford & his decision to pardon President Nixon.

Dennis Jenkins