Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Mr. Trump and School Children

photo by Central Elementary School-77 / flickr

The Southern Poverty Law Center keeps its hand on the pulse of what is happening in the nation. Morris Dees and his staff have been keeping their fingers on the pulse of our country for a long time. They say their charge is to: "fight hate...teach tolerance...and seek justice."" Lately they have turned the spotlight on this presidential election and it's effects on the children in our classrooms.

They surveyed 2,000 K-12 teachers. They have said their survey is not scientific. They have reported that those school teacher responders are likely those who are concerned about the impact of this presidential campaign on their students and schools. This is what they have found:

  • Two-thirds of the teachers reported that students--mainly immigrants, children of immigrants and Muslims--have expressed concerns or fears for what might happen to them and their families after this election.
  • More than half have seen an increase in uncivil political discourse.
  • More than one-third has observed an increase in anti-Muslim or anti-immigrant sentiment. 
  • Forty percent of the teachers steer away from election discussion because it produces anxiety and unrest in many of their students.
Though no political candidates names were mentioned in the survey instructions--out of 5,000 comments Mr. Trump was mentioned 1,000 times. Comments stated the students were afraid. One teacher wrote: "My students are terrified of Donald Trump. They think that is he is elected, all black people will be sent back to Africa."

In state after state teachers report similar fears from minority students, One Virginia elementary teacher said students were crying in the classroom and having meltdowns at home. In North Carolina a high school teacher said that she had Latino students who carry their birth certificates and Social Security cards to school because they fear they will be deported. Many Muslim students are receiving taunts from other students. They are called terrorists, ISIS members or bombers. 

We do not know the long-term effect on these children. Neither do we know the long-term effect of this election on all of us. But we do know that, as I have said before, words matter. Read the abbreviated report for yourself or the full report of all the teachers' comments. It is worth pondering this report which is presented by the Center.

Maybe you are as tired of this subject as I am. But we must look long and hard at this election. There is too much at stake to turn away.

photo by Quinn Dombrowski / flickr

--Roger Lovette /

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