HS Students Wade Into LBJ Debate

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Fifteen AP government students from the high school and social studies teacher Alexandros Mesimeris visited Hofstra University on Dec. 3 for a special field trip to debate the presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and current issues with political veterans Howard Dean and Ed Rollins.

Dean served as the 79th governor of Vermont from 1991 to 2003, a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004, and chairman of the Democratic National Committee from 2005 to 2009. As head of the DNC, his implementation of the 50-State Strategy was considered a significant factor behind Democratic victories in the 2006 congressional elections and the 2008 presidential election.

Rollins, a high-profile Republican campaign consultant and adviser, served as national campaign director for the 1984 Reagan-Bush presidential campaign, winning 49 of 50 Electoral College states, and was named national campaign chairman for the Huckabee presidential campaign in December 2007.

The students participated in round-table discussions with Dean and Rollins regarding Pres. Johnson and how he helped to pass the Voting Rights Act, how this landmark civil rights legislation would be viewed today, and whether the nations needs to make changes to the current system. The high schoolers were able to ask questions about what each presenter believed were current political problems in America and what their ideas were to solve them. 

“I believe that any time you can have government students in a room with men of this caliber, is truly an amazing opportunity,” said Mesimeris. “The students were impressed with the honest answers that were given by the political pundits, and I think that analysis and interaction is an extremely rewarding experience.”