By Kevin Stoda
The Southern Poverty Law Center is a famed non-profit that fights against hatred and bigotry since the 1960s in the USA. Among their many programs is the Center's TEACHING TOLERANCE. This program seeks to help improve "intergroup relations and supporting equitable school experiences for our children."
The most recent project of Teaching Tolerance has been Teaching the 2016 Election: The Trump Effect (The impact of the presidential campaign on our nation's schools.) The purpose of the project was explained in the executive summary as follows:
"EVERY FOUR YEARS, teachers in the United States use the presidential election to impart valuable lessons to students about the electoral process, democracy, government and the responsibilities of citizenship. But, for students and teachers alike, this year's primary season is [was] starkly different from any in recent memory. The results of an online survey conducted by Teaching Tolerance suggest that the [presidential] campaign is having [has had] a profoundly negative effect on children and classrooms. It's producing [It has produced] an alarming level of fear and anxiety among children of color and inflaming racial and ethnic tensions in the classroom. Many students worry about being deported."
Throughout the country, thinking educators have been "perplexed and conflicted about what to do. They report being stymied by the need to remain nonpartisan but disturbed by the anxiety in their classrooms and the lessons that children may be absorbing from this campaign."
Subsequently, some two-thousand-plus teachers in survey form responded to what they were observing and revealed: The key worrisome responses were time and again:
--"I try not to bring it [the elections] up since it is so stressful for my students."
--"I am at a point where I'm going to stake a stand even if it costs me my position."
I, myself, nodded as I read the comment about "losing one's position" because many years ago many of my friends and family in Kansas felt that I was likely blackballed back in my home state of Kansas, i.e. in at least several school districts because :
(a) I had taken a stance against the first Iraq war in 1990,
(b) I had opposed the building of private prisons in America instead of pouring money into better educational opportunities for struggling youths and
(c) I spoke out against the revolving-door for Army recruiters at one high school which was specifically allowing the recruiters to walk around hallways and around the school cafeteria recruiting youths.
AMERICAN SCHOOLS TODAY
Highlights from the Teaching the 2016 Election: The Trump Effect report for teachers and parents in America in 2016 are the following:
(1) More than two-thirds of the teachers reported that students--mainly immigrants, children of immigrants and muslims--have expressed concerns or fears about what might happen to them or their families after the election.
(2) More than half [of the teachers] observed an increase in uncivil political discourse.