» Lesson Plan
Social Security Reform:
A Timely Political Issue
By informing themselves about and addressing an issue of national, local and personal importance, students will become "architects" of a political strategy. As they develop strategy, they will have to decide what information they will include and highlight and what information they will de-emphasize in order to persuade a particular target group.
» Lesson Objectives:
In this lesson, students will explore:
- Social Security restructuring proposals
- How "architects" of political strategy devise their plans
- How to be the "architect" of a political strategy plan for Social Security reform
- The ethical implications of creating political strategy
» Materials Needed:
Student Handout: Essential Terms
Student Handout: Understanding Different Views of Social Security Reform
Student Handout: Devising Your Political Strategy
» Time Needed:
- 10 minutes for students to look over the Discussion Questions and discuss the first three questions
- 60 minutes to watch the documentary
- 10-20 minutes for the Discussion Questions
- 60 minutes to consider and answer the questions on the student handout: "Understanding Different Views of Social Security Reform"
- 30-45 minutes (or more, depending on the project and time available) for groups to complete the "Devising Your Political Strategy" student handout
- 30-45 minutes for class discussion of political strategies students have devised
- 30 minutes for discussion of the ethical implications of their strategies
- Discuss questions one, two and three from Discussion Questions. Make certain that students understand the difference between making policy and developing political strategy.
- View the documentary.
- Talk about the remaining Discussion Questions and review the "Essential Terms" handout with students.
- Divide students into groups of three to four to work together on answering the questions on the "Understanding Different Views of Social Security Reform" handout. Tell them they need to know this information in order to become "architects" of a political strategy for social security reform.
- Assign each group of three to four students to devise a political strategy for ONE of the target groups (Americans over age 50, Americans aged 25-49, African-Americans) on the "Devising Your Political Strategy" handout. Several student groups will work on each target group.
- Ask each of the student groups to make a short presentation to the whole class on the political strategy they have devised.
- Conduct a large group discussion based on their presentations about the ethical implications of the groups' strategies.
- Optional Research Project: Everyone acknowledges that the Social Security system needs some change and that the trust fund on which it depends will run out some time in the future. However, when it will run out and the best ideas for addressing the projected shortfall are the subjects of contentious debate. Interested students can begin research into the basic purpose and future of Social Security at http://www.ssa.gov/pressoffice/basicfact.htm
» Method of Assessment:
Submission of handouts