Presidential Politics Update: the Reagan and Bush years

by Dennis Jenkins

Isabella Pellegrino and
Alexis Barton point to their counterparts.

On Monday and Tuesday, we examined the presidencies of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. On Monday, we contrasted campaign commercials for the 1984 debate and watched clips from the actual debate between Walter Mondale and Reagan. Several students drew posters and campaign buttons while other students prepared for our debate between the two candidates. After our role-play debate between Reagan (Sean) and Mondale (Shawn), students examined major events and issues that impacted Reagan’s presidency. Students also took part in several court cases during the 1980s that dealt with the rights of students in public schools. Students went to the computer lab to research current presidential politics and some of the places we will be visiting in Washington D.C. We also watched some of the speeches of the candidates who are running for president in 2020. During study hall, students watched part of a documentary over the Reagan years before role-playing and discussing court cases that occurred during the Reagan presidency.

On Tuesday, some students prepared for the 1988 debate as they researched the topics that impacted the campaign between Bush and Michael Dukakis. The other half of the class discussed term limits for presidents and a balanced budget amendment. We then watched commercials from each candidate in 1988 in addition to clips from the actual debate and political satire over the election. Two of our students role-played as Bush (Isabella) and Dukakis (Alexis). The class took notes and discussed the rise of the conservative movement during the Reagan/Bush years. We then watched a clip on the George H.W. Bush presidency before we examined political satire from Dana Carvey about Bush’s presidency. After lunch, students did a mock Supreme Court trial over two court cases during the Bush years, Cruzan v. Director, Missouri Dept. of Health and International Union, UAW v. Johnson Controls, Inc. Russell served as the attorneys before the Supreme Court and the rest of the class served as the justices who determined the outcome of each case. We ended class with a round-table discussion over some of the decisions that President Bush faced during his presidency. In study hall, students began their research for their Mount Rushmore project and the Presidential Face-Off Tournament.

Note: Teacher Dennis Jenkins will be posting updates on his course, Presidential Politics, throughout VAMPY.