Welcome to our blog!

This is a class blog authored by student contributors and curated by their teacher, Dave Ostroff.

The posts on this blog are part of an ongoing assignment in our Government classes at All Saints’ Episcopal School (Ft. Worth, TX). The major goal of our course is to prepare students for responsible citizenship in the 21st century. Students post reflection pieces on a rotating basis. We invite you to return often and read what we write!

Please read the specifics of our class blog assignment here.

View our class blogging and commenting guidelines here.

Special thanks to Mike Gwaltney and his AP US Government and Politics students for providing the inspiration for this project!



Early in my childhood, I always resented the president’s. It wasn’t for the fact that they were not likeable, I just hated the things they had. I wanted to be the president so bad was the cause of my frustration. They had the whole white house all to themselves. All 132 rooms, including the bowling room, would be at my leasure. It seemed being president was the best four to eight years of somebodies life. Even if you couldn’t find everything you wanted in the white house, I believed they could call for anything you wanted just because you were the leader of the free world. They always praised the president like he could do anything, so that’s what I saw. Unfortunately, I completely misunderstood the powers he possessed, as well as my peers. Even though he has the life of the riches he doesn’t have any power like one.    The way the power works in reality is greatly depicted in the the words of Neustadt. Richard Neustadt was an American political philosopher who served for several presidents as their advisor. He later wrote his findings and ideas about the necessities for a president in his book called “Presidential Powers”. In this piece of literature, there were 3 main ideas he found the a president needed in order to be a successful president. The first point is the power to persuade. Any law that the president would like to pass always has to go through the reigns of congress. Most of the time congress is not going to want to change anything unless it would be in their favor. Congress could easily veto everything if a president would not try to reason with them. A good president, by Neustadt’s ideas, would be able to bargain as well as persuade to get stuff done. He would influence them in order to make change for the better, without giving congress too much gain in “trades”. This is one of the significant powers the president must possess.

    The next thing that is essential for a president’s public prestige. Public prestige can also become the fate of the president. Without the people behind him, he would be able to exploited by congress or anybody that opposes him. They could take advantage of when the people could care less what will happen to him. Nobody would care that he struggles with the senate. Nobody would care that he couldn’t get anything done, due to the fact that in reality, nobody would want him to do anything. The last idea coincides with public prestige, but this time it goes through the people of higher status. 

    The president as well as having a good reputation with the people of America als has to have a good reputation with the people you could possibly work with. Other political activist and people of power in the country should also lean towards liking you, for many beneficial reasons. It could go from anywhere to boosting your influence to getting that one more vote to letting your bill pass. It is also very essential to make sure that you don’t make enemies, because they could go out and publicly, humiliate, deteriorate your reputation, or convince fellow peers that you’re not the right choice. 

    Neustadt’s idea on power of the presidency resides on three main ideas. Those three ideas are public prestige, professional reputation, and the ability to bargain. I agree that people should see it this way, because this would give them a better idea on who can embody the power of a president.

Special Needs in America Today

In today’s society, there has been a lot of discussion about the mentally handicapped and the way they are taught in schools. In many public schools around the nation children characterized as special needs have a specific class and specifically trained teachers to help them with the challenge that is educating special needs children. The children that a. re characterized by the term special needs need to be in an environment where they have the modifications and the trained teachers to help them get as good as an education as they can physically receive. This process of getting a special needs student can be halted by the lack of concern that this issue has, and they lack of teachers that are willing to work with special needs students.

To talk about this matter specifically we need to define what it means to be a special needs students; the educational requirements of pupils or students suffering from any of a wide range of physical disabilities, medical conditions, intellectual difficulties, or emotional problems, including deafness, blindness, dyslexia, learning difficulties, and behavioral problems. By this definition more people than we think can be characterized as a 405 student, or to actually placed into a slower paced special needs classroom. When parents in the 21st century find out that their child will be characterized as a special needs recipient the comes with a negative connotation that they will be taking care of this child for the rest of lives, and they will be so different than the rest of children their age. Yes, children placed in the category of special needs will be different but they are not helpless, and they are not stupid. These children are different and they might have different variations of needs than other children, but they are not alone. There are approximately 400,000 people living in the world with Down Syndrome (recorded in 2012). One or Two in every 1,000 children is born with some sort of FAS, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Many of these children are treated like what has happened to them is their own fault and that in some way, shape, or form that they deserve this. With all of this being said, the Federal Government decided that these children need to be integrated back into the normal classroom where they don’t have any of the modifications that they would have if they were in a specific special needs classroom. But in today’s schools, there are not a lot if any special education classrooms, there are just FLS (Function Life Skills). Theses FLS classes do not to teach any of the normal teaks that other classrooms go over; this class teaches the special needs students how to have a self-efficient life for life in a group home.

I firmly believe that children who have special needs need to be held to a different accountability and need to be helped differently than people who are all physically and mentally there. If the child could not keep with the pace of being in a classroom, but does not qualify for the FLS class, there is not a whole lot in place right now to give these children the support and the help that they deserve. There needs to be some help with children who are under this broad spectrum of the term “Special Needs Student”. These children are just that children, they want to be treated and given the same chances at succeeding like everyone else, but to succeed sometimes these children need to be taken out of this competitive environment so they can have a chance to succeed in their own confortable environment.

Why Ben Carson WOULD have been the best candidate.

Written by: Lucas Ivy-O’Donnell


Ben Carson is someone that everyone can strive to be like. A man who came from a poor environment and rose above many challenges in order to become an image of the American dream. While he might not be the next president of the United States he was the president we deserve.

Ben Carson began his life in a small home in the projects of Detroit Michigan. He was raised by a single, hardworking mother and had the ideology that hard work is the00b84afb414acd9427939def06033f3a stimulant for all things good ingrained in his mind from a very young age. After
overcoming many challenges he worked his way up and through college until he had eventually found his calling as a neurosurgeon at one of the most prestigious hospital in the country and the world.

Unlike Donald Trump and many of the other candidates he was not afforded the chance to take short cuts through life like a $1 million loan. America has become complacent. So many times people are willing to live off the hard work of someone else instead of going out and making something  of themselves.

Ben Carson may not be the most experienced candidate by any means but he does have some very good policies that, because he doesn’t get much airtime, people don’t really understand. His stance on healthcare is coming from a viewpoint that can only come from a hardworking citizen and a doctor. He plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act(Obamacare) and replace it with a more family and community oriented system. He wants to give every person basically a little trust-fund that goes towards healthcare. The money is interchangeable between family members. This would allow you to reallocate funds based on need.maxresdefault

He also wants to bring America back to its roots. In an interview Ben talked about how America used to be a community of helpers and doers. How if a farmer in a town broke his leg the rest of the town helped him with his crops. How if a man was killed the rest of the town would help the family. America does not succeed when the government must be relied on for things like this. America needs to be a place where you pay your own way and gain the respect of those around you. That is how we make America great again.

One negative of Doctor Carson however is that his knowledge of foreign policy is close to none. While I agree with him that more needs to be done about ISIS that is really all I have learned from him. Even his chief adviser for foreign policy left him because he said he could not formulate a single intelligent word on the subject. Isn’t this what advisers are for though? Would it not be good to have someone not so hell bent on doing things? Having little knowledge just means there is opportunity to learn. Contrary to popular belief you can teach an old dog new tricks..

While I do not believe Dr. Carson can win this election due to him being to soft spoken ,which didn’t resonate with many people, I do believe that his policies and values would have helped us get back to the way we were  and that we would have been better off with him in office. I would like to close on a quote by him that I believe responds directly to the people that say a leader of this great nation needs experience. “You are absolutely right — I have no political experience. The current Members of Congress have a combined 8,700 years of political experience. Are we sure political experience is what we need. Every signer of the Declaration of Independence had no elected office experience.” We are a country built by innovators and  rebels. We should be a little more open minded about having one in charge.


Lucas Ivy-O’Donnell

Comparing Generations

1943-1945, the period of time which brought to light the greatest generation in modern american history. 1999-2016, the emergence of the weakest generation in all of american history. Two vastly different time periods, home to two vastly different groups of people, and I intend to bring to light the main points which make them polar opposites.


          Perhaps embodying the quote the John F. Kennedy would coin years later, the young men and women of america in the early to mid 1940’s dedicated their lives to the upkeep of their country without thinking twice. Boys no older than 18 charged the largest beach-head in history on June 6th, 1944, and continued charging, wave after wave until their foe could take no more. In the pacific these boys did this almost weekly while hopping from island to island in some of the most gruesome fighting in history. Despite this, more than 6 million of these men were volunteers, doing what had to be done to defend their country. Today however, I am disgusted to find men and women in my age group calling out for “safe zones” on college campuses because most of my generation lacks a sizeable spine, and the mental power to deal with somebody else’s opinion. We are the result of the “everybody gets a trophy” idea and that means that somebody has anything that is better than we have, we throw a fit, and call them a bigot, selfish, or sexist depending on the situation. To top it all off, we are hypocrites. When asked whether or not they supported a war with the islamic state (ISIL) 60% of millennials asked said yes, however, only 15% were willing to serve in the U.S. Military. Essentially, my generation wants to fight for what is right, but wants someone else to do the fighting for them.


          Today we see a wave of groups “calling for action” against things which would simply have rolled off the backs of the greatest generation. To give an example, we have groups crying out to end bullying, gun ownership, and anything else that is “non-P.C.”  When it comes to bullying, I agree that it is definitely wrong, but I speak as someone who has experienced dreadful bullying in my previous school when I say that the best way to protect yourself or someone else from it, it to help them understand that it a common part of life. Teach them to accept that and develop their mental resilience to the point that they don’t let the words of others affect them. The last thing you want to do is provide a “Safe Place” for them to run to and cower behind, that will only continue to make us weaker. On the matter of gun ownership we have seen a great decline in respect for firearms between the generations at hand. While for the greatest generation firearms were seen, and treated as the tools they are. Today however, more and more people are becoming “afraid” of these tools because of a popular notion spread by uneducated authoritative figures, that all guns are bad, and the only thing a gun is good for is mass murder. This is a defining difference between these two generations, while one grew up carrying a .22 through town, learned gun safety in schools, and used these tools extensively, the other has been “sheltered” from a false evil and is now spreading these ideas to the next generation, helping to spread the weakness. Most importantly, the “millennial” generation is operating on a frame work of “Political Correctness” which essentially tells everyone to not share their opinions if it may offend someone. Quite frankly I think this is the most disgusting policy I have ever heard of. People should never be made to censor themselves in order to not “offend” someone. If you don’t like what someone has to say, ken their metaphorical skin. All that this sheltering accomplishes is making our younger generations weaker when it comes to real world issues then you don’t have to listen, much less accept it. My point is that people need to grow a spine, and thicken their metaphorical skin. All that this sheltering accomplishes is making our younger generations weaker when it comes to real world issues.

-Zack Switalski

Make America Great Again

You either love him or you hate him, Donald Trump is stealing the spotlight from all the other republican candidates. Looking at the headlines of articles there either overwhelmingly positive or very negative. But after the New Hampshire primary many reports have stated that Republicans need to start treating Donald Trump as the front-runner of the republican presidential candidate. At the very least, Republicans can no longer afford to hope Trump fades out on his own, unless they’re ready for him to be their nominee.


Donald Trump

Just because Trump is the only republican candidate that steals the spotlight in both positive and negative ways, the republicans need to look at the other candidates just as much as they do for Donald Trump. The other candidates might not have as much money as Trump but they might have better ideas. We as voters need to take into account that the more we fuel Trump’s fire, the more outrageous he becomes. We are running out of time to pick a new republican candidate.

In government, most of the class responded that they would like a president that understands the struggle of the average American person. They wanted someone that was confident without being cocky. They wanted someone who spoke from the heart and not a sheet of paper, or had someone else’s words coming out of their mouth. All the other candidates meet those requirements.

Now how is Donald Trump a relatable American? He came out of college with 1 million dollars already in his name, given to him by his father, then given another 2 million dollars. I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t sound like an average American. Donald Trump, also the star of a reality TV show, owner of his own private jet, and of the Trump towers. Trump was married to model Ivana Zelnicek from 1977-92 and to Marla Maples from 1993-99. He married his third wife, Slovenian model Melania Knauss, on 22 January 2005. Trump went suddenly on the skids in 1990, finding himself over $900 million in debt and facing bankruptcy. Not your average American, and if Trump finds himself in $900 million dollars debt and facing bankruptcy, how will he handle America’s finances.images.jpg

Now on the topic of being confident and not cocky, I’m not sure if you could call Trump that man. Trump has bashed on Mexicans, Muslims, Obama, disabled, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Cruz. Even though Americans may like candidates who are politically correct, they at least have to take into consideration that the candidate has to be respectful. If, again if, Trump became our president with the technology today other countries could search Trump and easily pull up what he has said about their country.

Now, maybe it’s just me but, maybe Trump has already said too many offensive things to win over the votes of the American people. We have to think about the future, and teaming with other countries. We can’t search the internet to see if Trump has said something offensive about that country before we partner with them.

Shouldn’t we go into a new presidency period with a sense of hope and not a sense of dread. We should in a sense start over with a clean slate, and not build on to the things said during the running for president. Instead, we should put our time into elevating the numbers of a candidate that actually deserves our votes because of the good ideas and political correctness. Not because he said something offensive about a certain group of people and he has no filter, sometimes having a filter is a good thing and can be used to your advantage. How should we make America great again? By taking all the candidates into consideration, listing their pros and cons, and seeing what the candidates say and how they say it. Not just because a candidate has lots of money and no matter what they do there will be no punishment.

Trump Boycotting GOP debate

Trump Boycotting GOP debate

In light of the recent turn of events surrounding the last GOP debate, I decided to touch on a topic which I believe is quite interesting. On January 28,2016, Donald Trump decided to boycott the GOP debate well actually he announced on Tuesday that he wouldn’t but then followed through with his words on the 28th. Even though Trump has made some bold moves in the past which led him to even more publicity did he think boycotting the GOP debate would lead to good publicity?

One thing Donald Trump knows how to do is get publicity. According to The Washington Post, Trump said he believes Fox and other television networks have been taking
advantage of him by selling advertisements for their debates at a high premium. You may ask yourself what did he do since he skipped the debate, well Trump said he would instead host a competing event in the state designed to raise money for wounded veterans, as a result raised more than $6 million and $1 million of it was from his own checkbook. Which is a big step from where we stood earlier in the election when he made the comment referencing to Joe Biden “He’s not a war hero. He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.” images.jpgWhich in response made many veterans extremely angry, but still led to publicity. Now I can see how Donald Trump is trying to help the veterans feel less angry at him by this act of kindness by raising money to help the wounded veterans and that does lead to good publicity.

Even though the news wasn’t so pleased with the actions of Mr. Trump, I am. Even though Trump feels as if Megyn Kelly and her cast from Fox News are “out to get him” and him boycotting the debate helped him to avoid the direct questioning from Megyn and her co-moderators. I’m taking in consideration Trump could have decided to boycott the debate and do absolutely nothing.  The fact he boycotted the debate and did something honorable this is something that should be recognized and maybe we can change the ways we hold debates in a way that can help our people, while also getting good publicity just like what Trump did.

Hannah Brown

Importance roles that a President plays.

Little did you know, there is a lot the President does that most people probably didn’t know about. Obviously people know that the President has the most power but there is so much more to it that the word “power”. Also there are so many roles the President plays that people don’t even think about or even give credit to the President for. This all fits under the Executive branch. The Executive branch is the branch of federal and state government that is broadly responsible for implementing, supporting, and enforcing the laws made by the legislative branch and interpreted by the judicial branch. To me the Executive branch is the most important branch of all. One word to describe the Executive branch would be power.

In the Article, “Presidential Power and the Modern Presidents”, written by Richard Neustadt, is a well rounded article about the President’s power. The President has many “powers”. There are three topics that Neustadt brought up that really stand out to me about the President involving his powers. When the president is trying to accomplish something he needs all the help he can get. These three things are the power to persuade, professional reputation, and public prestige. The power to persuade is the way the president gives off his advise letting the people know that he wants what is best for them. The people will obviously want this because they want what is best for them. If they hear the President saying this they will be more on his side with it. The President’s reputation is the second biggest topic from Neustadt. A good reputation is wanted by everyone, especially the President. The President’s reputation is very important because this is how the whole world sees him. He wants to have a well rounded reputation because he wants everyone to be on his side. Neustadt also says, “The President’s reputation comes into play by how reliant the government’s infrastructure has on the president to carry out his legislation.” So basically the President’s reputation is very important. The last topic that Neustadt talks about is public prestige. The way the President expresses himself out in the public is also how everyone views him. The public has no direct association with the President and the government but the public is still an important role to the President. One quote that Neustadt said caught my eye and I thought it was really nicely directed to the public prestige. The quote is, “Prestige counts in power by establishing some checks upon resistance from the men engaged in governing.” These three topics play a big role in Presidency.

Another big thing about the Presidency is all of the roles the President plays. The President is in charge of so many things, the public doesn’t even realize. I think that all of these roles are almost equally important. But a few of them would be Chief of State, Chief Administrator, Commander in Chief, and Chief Citizen. The Chief of State is the ceremonial head of the US. He or she is then the symbol of all of the people of the nation. In many countries, the chief of state reigns but does not rule. But that is not the case of the President of the Us. The president both rules and reigns. This would probably be the biggest role a President has. They are running the whole country and their actions shape the country’s actions as well. The Chief of Administrator is the director of the huge executive branch of the federal Government. He or she heads one of the largest governmental machines the world has ever known. Today, the president directs an administration that employs more than 2.7 million civilians and spends more than $3 trillion a year. Managing a sprawling executive branch is only one of the President’s several jobs. The Commander in Chief is the Commander of the nation’s armed forces. The 1.4 million men and women in uniform and all of the nation’s military might are subject to the President’s direct and immediate control. The Constitution actually gives Congress some significant powers in foreign affairs and over the military, but the president has long since become dominate in both fields. President Obama is having a hard time with being the Commander in Chief. He has been wanting to take troops out of Afghanistan maybe hoping thing would get better but this is what people are worried about. They don’t want President Obama to take troops out of Afghanistan. He isn’t really doing this to the peoples advantage. He isn’t making public prestige or persuasion; like when Neustadt explained those powers. In an Article on CNN called, “Obama halts Afghanistan troop withdrawal” President Obama gets together with Ghani, the Afghan president, to talk about the troop situation. Even Ghani said they wanted to have peace but President Obama is still trying to take troops out of the war. President Obama is not listening to the people when he is working with this situation. So he is not using his “powers” as president as he should. The last role that I think is really important is the Chief Citizen. The president is expected to be “the representatives of all the people”. He or she is expected to take the high road and champion the public interest against the many different and competing private interests. I feel like this role goes with the Chief of State because this also has to do with the actions the president makes. The world will view him and know him based off of his actions.

The President’s have so many powers and roles that they have to play all at once. It must be hard but even the perfect president struggles with making everyone happy. It is hard to keep a well balanced job with one or two tasks but try around eight or nine. It is important for the President to take care of his duties so that the people in this world are being taken care of.

-Sarah S.images.jpg