Opinion

Thanks, Mr. President, for so many priceless teaching moments

Rachel Jensen grew up in the Lake Tapps area, graduated from Auburn Riverside High School and now teaches in King County.
Rachel Jensen grew up in the Lake Tapps area, graduated from Auburn Riverside High School and now teaches in King County. Courtesy photo

Dear President Trump,

First and foremost, I would like to thank you. In my many years of teaching, never have my civics and U.S. history students been so engaged as they’ve been since you were elected.

Each class has offered a treasure trove of in-depth discussions and connections to history.

Your administration has added such depth to these subjects – much more than any of your predecessors.

Truly, your decisions have led to countless conversations concerning the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights.

A favorite activity of my students is to compare and contrast your administration with what they have read regarding the exercise of executive branch powers. The game we play involves looking at your executive orders, researching where those powers lie and then making the connections to the past.

It has been a marvelous journey to watch their expressions when they put it all together. We also enjoy making similar connections to former leaders and their respective regimes.

I really must congratulate you for this. I have always repeated the phrase attributed to philosopher George Santayana that “those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” But never have my students had such an iconic role model.

The way you came to power, for instance, has helped me greatly in explaining political machines, the legendary presidency of William Taft and influence peddling at New York’s Tammany Hall.

This was a thought-provoking time in history that’s often challenging to make clear, but your administration has helped me to illuminate it. Well done there.

Your explanation of and enthusiasm for your proposed Mexican border wall have also given me a modern example to help make connections. We look at its design and the walls of China and Berlin, along with the border between North and South Korea.

My students ask such intelligent questions. Once again, you provide a wonderful illustration of how the present and future make connections with the past.

One difficulty I have had until now was explaining some of the thoughts, feelings and ideas associated with various historical conflicts. But with the help of your speeches and the current political environment, the U.S. Civil War and World War II have never been so understandable to my students.

In fact, your political stances and attitude towards outsiders have really made history come alive once more.

At risk of sounding like a broken record, I would like to leave you with one last heartfelt thank you. My civics and U.S. history students have expressed their desire to put American government first. You have truly made history and civics great again.

We all will rest easier knowing that Lord Acton’s famous quote – “power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely; great men are almost always bad men” – does not apply to you.

Rachel Jensen is a Pierce County native who teaches at a private school in Issaquah. She lives in Enumclaw and grew up in the Lake Tapps area.

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