2016 is shaping up to be a difficult year for Civics and Social Studies teachers interested in teaching about the Presidential election. Ainsley O’ Connell recently wrote Have Politics Become So Ugly that Educators are Afraid to Teach Civics? for Fast Company magazine. The article claims that schools wary of Clinton v. Trump minefields are avoiding teaching Civics altogether. Further, as the language on the campaign trail polarizes voters, even the driest of lessons can prompt parent complaints or stoke bullying. Indiana high school students chanted "Build a wall!" at a basketball game in March, an ugly jeer aimed at Latino students on the rival team.
A survey published by the Southern Poverty Law Center found that 43% of K-12 educators are "hesitant to teach about the election," and more than half have "seen an increase in uncivil political discourse" in their schools. Other teachers have been prohibited from discussing the subject. One middle school principal in Portland, Oregon, instituted a "gag order" on election topics, according to the survey.
In Tennessee, a Latino child was told by classmates that he will be deported and trapped behind a wall. He now asks his Kindergarten teacher every day, “Is the wall here yet?” Many children are using the political discourse they hear on TV to gang up on others. Muslim kids are being called terrorists. “Students are hearing more hate language than I have ever heard at our school before,” says a high school teacher in Helena, Montana.
Thanks to generous sponsorship from the Arasyln Foundation, our speakers: Anthony Pennay, Becky Valbuena, Rebekah Harding and Gregorio Medina will help Southern Californian educators sift through the rhetoric and Teach The Election on October 1st in Burbank. Sign up to Join us at Pickwick Gardens.
A group of SCSSA members met in Alhambra to see Snowden Live and view the Oliver Stone film. We would like your opinion about our next History teacher movie night. Denial or The Birth of a Nation? Leave your opinion in the comments section and we will poll those interested for convenient dates and locations.