The Southern Poverty Law Center has a very in-depth look, following a survey, on the impact the presidential campaign has had on the nation’s schools, particularly the impact on students, and the impact on teaching. Normally, teachers take advantage of a presidential campaign to teach on a variety of subjects. That’s not the case this time. Many teachers are afraid to bring it up, because of the incitement it causes, which ends in harassment and bullying of some students, and other teachers are at a loss to explain to their students why this campaign was so utterly filthy, with none of the ideals and high standards they are taught about. Many teachers are heartbroken, seeing the profound fear many of their students have, even in kindergarten. The article is a long one, and there’s a .pdf available, and a link to full comments at the main page.
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 starkly different from any in recent memory. The results of an online survey conducted by Teaching Tolerance suggest that the campaign is having a profoundly negative effect on children and classrooms.
It’s producing 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.
Other students have been emboldened by the divisive, often juvenile rhetoric in the campaign. Teachers have noted an increase in bullying, harassment and intimidation of students whose races, religions or nationalities have been the verbal targets of candidates on the campaign trail.
Educators are 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.
Two responses from teachers illustrate their dilemma. A teacher in Arlington, Virginia, says, “I try to not bring it up since it is so stressful for my students.” Another, in Indianapolis, Indiana, says, “I am at a point where I’m going to take a stand even if it costs me my position.”