Dear Gunston Community:
The 2020 Presidential Election is upon us, and as we do every four years to promote civic education, political participation, and civil discourse, we’re planning to offer a special program for our students. This year, we’ll be hosting our Election Education Day virtually on our ACT Day, October 28th, from 9 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. Full attendance is expected for this virtual program, and each student will rotate through seven 20-minute sessions (including a 20 minute break) that aim to illuminate their understanding of our political process.
While we’re delighted to welcome two distinguished members of the Washington College faculty of Political Science, five of the seven sessions will be designed and delivered by our students. The current program includes:
Dr. Melissa Deckman: The Louis L. Goldstein Professor of Public Affairs and Chair of the Political Science Department at Washington College, Dr. Deckman participated in this event four years ago with a focus on her book Tea Party Women: Mama Grizzlies, Grassroots Leaders, and the Changing Face of the American Right (NYU Press 2016). Also the author of the textbook Women and Politics, this year Dr. Deckman will share findings from her research on the Generation Z Political Participation.
Dr. Joseph Prud’homme: An Associate Professor of Political Science and the Director of the Institute for Religion, Politics, and Culture at Washington College, Dr. Prud’homme works in the areas of political philosophy, legal theory, intellectual history and religious studies. He has published Religion and Politics in America from the Colonial Period to the Civil War. He will outline the structure of the Electoral College, and the role of “swing states” in elections.
10 Reasons to vote for Donald Trump & 10 Reasons to vote for Joe Biden: These two student-led sessions aim to present the affirmative reasons for supporting each candidate, with a focus on specific policy issues like taxation, the environment, etc. Our goal is to have students avoid the negativity often associated with presidential campaign discourse, and offer a civil and thoughtful review of each candidate’s policies and programs.
Local Issues: Mr. McFarland’s class will illuminate some of the key issues that animate local politics on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. The goal of this session is to help students understand how politics functions closer to home.
Polls, Polling and Political Science: The AP Government students will offer an overview of polling’s role in understanding the political landscape. They are also designing a poll to understand the contours of the Gunston electorate. Every student will take this poll and be able to cast their ballot for a particular presidential candidate.
How to Vote: Ms.Vesnaver’s American Government students will outline the specific processes for registering to vote, as well as review the structures in our system that promote and/or inhibit voter participation.
Despite the polarized nature of our times, Gunston feels strongly about offering this election education program every four years. As a school, we’re a non-partisan organization, and our goal is always to educate students, not to indoctrinate them. While no election education program can ever be free of controversy or potential bias, our goal is to model the kind of civility, respect, and informed discourse that is the model of a healthy society.
Head of School