Matt deGrood, Contributing Writer
As middle school students throughout Texas public schools take the state’s standardized U.S. government and history exams this spring, many may have three University of Dallas professors to thank for preparing them.
As a teaching tool to prepare students for this exam, the Texas State Bar recently commissioned a series of five videos featuring associate professors of politics Drs. Richard Dougherty and David Upham and associate professor of history Dr. William Atto speaking about the importance and historical context of several landmark Supreme Court decisions.
The short videos, which feature series of sound-bites from these three professors as well as from professors from Southern Methodist University, Texas Wesleyan University and the University of Texas at Dallas, have been distributed on DVD to middle school teachers throughout Texas and are also available on the State Bar’s website.
The total number of students who will see the videos is not known, but is likely to be in the thousands.
“It would be safe to say that hundreds (maybe even thousands) of teachers use our lesson plans, curriculum, etc.” said Kim Davey, public information director for the State Bar of Texas.
“Based on web access, I can tell you there were over 25,000 visits to the Oyez website in 2012,” said Blair McBride, the State Bar’s communications project coordinator.
Each professor was selected for his knowledge and unique perspective on the court decisions, and was interviewed for about two hours on campus.
“We asked Dr. Dougherty to participate due to … his knowledge of Constitutional law and the American Presidency,” said Cathy Davenport, director of the videos and senior producer at Left Brain Creative.
In the videos, Dougherty discusses Marbury v. Madison, McCulloch v. Maryland and Gibbons v. Ogden.
“Dr. Upham was asked to participate due to his legal background as well as his knowledge of Constitutional law,” Davenport added.
Upham discusses McCulloch v. Maryland, Gibbons v. Ogden, Worcester v. Georgia and Scott v. Sandford.
“And Dr. Dougherty,” continued Davenport, “recommended Dr. William Atto to us. Dr. Atto has extensive knowledge about President Andrew Jackson and Jackson’s Indian Removal Policy, which made him the perfect choice to discuss Worcester v. Georgia.”
“I was quite impressed with the substance of the interviews and the videos,” said Dougherty, describing his experience with the project. “While they are somewhat light-hearted, as a way to attract people’s attention, they are also filled with quality material. That’s a real tribute to the producer, but also to the Bar Association for sponsoring them.”
Davenport returned the praise.
“I would just like to say that it was a pleasure to meet and interview each of the professors from the University of Dallas. Their knowledge of the cases they discussed was extraordinary, and the information they provided has no doubt helped students learn about the important events that played a role in shaping our nation.”
To watch these videos, please visit http://www.texasbar.com/civics/index.html.