The New Deal changed America. Historians still debate the extent to which it contributed to the end of the Depression. But there is no denying that it left America a different place. Therefore we encourage you to think as much about the legacy of the New Deal as its immediate impact. That doesn't mean you should ignore the question of effectiveness—that's why we include a statistical exercise that helps your students explore the economic developments of the 1930s. But the New Deal impacted more than just the 1930s and therefore we encourage you to help your students identify all the ways that it still affects their lives—from the Social Security withholding in their paychecks to the WPA mural on the post office wall.
Perhaps most fundamentally, the New Deal left the belief that the government has a responsibility to aggressively address economic problems. There is considerable debate as to how far the government should go in doing so—you might want to remind your students that plenty of Roosevelt's critics, past and present, believe that government intervention in the economy is a costly and slippery slope. But it might be useful to explore the range and limits of government responsibility amid the economic problems that surround us. Should the government bail out Wall Street? Is it necessary to save the auto industry? Is national health insurance the logical descendent of Social Security?