Education

Federal File

By Mark Walsh — October 01, 2004 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The Selling of the Candidates

President Nixon.
President Nixon criticizes school busing in a 1972 commercial.
—Photo courtesy of the American Museum of the Moving Image

With the general-election season under way, Americans are being bombarded with presidential campaign commercials. (Well, voters in competitive states are, anyway.) What better time for teachers and their students to stroll through the history of campaign advertising?

The American Museum of the Moving Image, in New York City, launched an online exhibit in July of more than 250 commercials from every presidential campaign from 1952 to the present.

The exhibit, called “The Living Room Candidate,” is being used as a teaching tool to examine some of the most memorable campaign commercials, including President Lyndon B. Johnson’s 1964 “daisy girl” spot targeting nuclear fears, President Ronald Reagan’s famously upbeat “morning in America” commercial from 1984, and the independently financed “Willie Horton” ad against Democratic nominee Michael S. Dukakis in 1988.

“It’s a very quick way to immerse yourself in a period of history,” said David Schwartz, the co-curator of the exhibit.

What is also illuminating is to trace the role of education as an issue in campaign ads. It was barely mentioned in ads in the 1950s and 1960s. In a 1956 commercial, though, Democratic nominee Adlai Stevenson promised to attack the “crisis” of “not enough schools or teachers.” The tone shifted by 1968, when third-party candidate George Wallace appealed to voters whose children were being “bused across town.” President Richard M. Nixon says in a 1972 ad that “massive busing produces inferior education.”

Mr. Schwartz said one of the most effective spots on education was a 1996 ad for President Bill Clinton showing young people expressing their aspirations to be surgeons or other professionals, juxtaposed with a grim audio clip of Republican nominee Bob Dole promising to “eliminate the Department of Education.”

The exhibit, located online at www.movingimage.us, also includes Web-only commercials, which have been used frequently in this election cycle and tend to be “much more aggressive” than spots intended for the airwaves, Mr. Schwartz said.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Recruitment & Retention Webinar
Be the Change: Strategies to Make Year-Round Hiring Happen
Learn how to leverage actionable insights to diversify your recruiting efforts and successfully deploy a year-round recruiting plan.
Content provided by Frontline
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Critical Ways Leaders Can Build a Culture of Belonging and Achievement
Explore innovative practices for using technology to build an environment of belonging and achievement for all staff and students.
Content provided by DreamBox Learning
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Professional Development Webinar
Strategies for Improving Student Outcomes with Teacher-Student Relationships
Explore strategies for strengthening teacher-student relationships and hear how districts are putting these methods into practice to support positive student outcomes.
Content provided by Panorama Education

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Briefly Stated: September 7, 2022
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
9 min read
Education Briefly Stated: August 31, 2022
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated: August 24, 2022
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated: August 17, 2022
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read