- Using Rituals to Survive Remote Learning - January 8, 2021
- Teachers: Stop What You’re Doing - October 12, 2020
- Ending White Supremacy is a White Educators’ Fight - August 4, 2020
- Before a New School Year Begins, We Must Grieve - July 20, 2020
- Preparing for a Long Journey of Anti-Racist Teaching - June 11, 2020
- Mental Health Support for Remote Teaching and Learning - April 29, 2020
- New York City Schools Are Closed. Now What? - April 13, 2020
- 5 Unexpected Benefits of Remote Teaching - April 5, 2020
- President Mike Bloomberg Would Be a Nightmare for Public Schools - March 2, 2020
- It’s Time to Rethink Your School’s “Holiday” Celebrations - December 18, 2019
As a teacher, I’ve always felt pressure to keep my personal political views out of my classroom. In fact, in New York City’s public schools the Chancellor’s Regulations which lay out a wide range of rules, regulations and policies, explicitly forbids teachers from mixing any sort of political activity with their teaching.
But lately, it’s become harder to reconcile this position with the real world political climate my students live in. The fact is, Donald Trump is not an ordinary politician. His rhetoric goes beyond typical political mud-slinging. It is dangerous, offensive, and demands a response from educators.
About a month ago, I was eating lunch with a group of students when they started asking about the upcoming New York primary. In the unique, mostly-but not 100%-correct way of third graders discussing current events, they shared their opinions on the different candidates. When the conversation turned to Trump, the tone changed noticeably.
Many of my students have parents who immigrated from Mexico while a few were born there themselves.
“He wants to build a wall between here and Mexico!”
“My aunt lives in Mexico. How will I send her a letter?”
I explained that we will still be able to send and receive mail to and from Mexico, but I wanted to explain so much more. Beneath their questions and comments, there was a mixture of anxiety and anger in their voices.
Soon after that a grad school colleague of mine shared a story of her white students playing a variation of “cops and robbers. They called their game “Trump versus Mexicans”.
None of these students have to worry about Trump’s wall personally. But they’ve caught on to his rhetoric just the same and internalized it in their own way.
Meanwhile, a white Jewish five-year-old I know recently said that if Trump wins, “We’re going to have World War III. The Japanese are going to come and bomb us!”
Different kids are making sense of this election in different ways. It depends on their age and their social location. But regardless, I believe that all three of these anecdotes illustrate the disquieting impact Donald Trump is having on our youngest Americans.
This cannot be acceptable.