The Southern Poverty Law Center did a survey of 2,000 school teachers and found that this year's presidential race is having a "profoundly negative" impact on children and their classroom environments.
According to the SPLC, "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." At th same time, "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."
From the surveys sent out to teachers, some of the responses were outstandingly disturbing. Here is a sampling of some.
In the past two days there has been a group of 8th grade boys coming to school with Trump-emblazoned t-shirts, red-white-and-blue plastic leis, and other "patriotic" decorations that are related to this Trump support. These are popular boys, and the group is growing. There are plenty of teachers who are saying to them how much they, too, like Trump. I am appalled. I demanded to know why these teachers were telling students that they liked Trump, but the only person who could name a reason said, "I don't think illegal immigrants should be in our country." I responded, "Oh, so you think a nationalist, exclusionary, hatefulrhetoric-spouting millionaire badboy is going to help our country?" She said, "You know what I mean about immigrants." I said, "No--I don't know what you mean."
So many of my students have begun to show hatred towards refugees, low-income and poverty citizens, and there has been an increase in religious bias. Many are taking the anger and hate-filled speeches of the candidates to heart and are projecting the messages onto students they feel fit the stereotypes in the speeches.
Students at my school say hurtful things sometimes about minority groups (African Americans, people of alternative sexual orientations, Muslims, etc.). Before the campaign, when they said hurtful or disrespectful things and I called them out on it, they would stop and nothing else would be said during that class period. Today, when such things are said, they question me why I think it is not appropriate to say when their parents and the future president of this country is saying it (their opinion not mine). I don't know what to say to these comments other than that in my classroom such things are not going to be tolerated and if they continue they are going to be sent to the office.
One student asked if this was how Germany elected Adolf Hitler.
Many students are genuinely worried and afraid. A fifth-grade teacher whose class watches CNN Student News each morning told me that one of my ESL students said, "That man scares me!" when Trump's face flashed across the screen. He wasn't kidding. His eyes were huge and real fear flashed across his face. Many, many students have told me some version of, "Donald Trump hates us," or "Donald Trump hates all Mexicans." I have spoken with parents whose children have heard racial slurs and taunting. Unfortunately, staff has not always dealt appropriately with these incidents of bullying.
Some students are angry and challenge any discussions about inclusiveness, civil rights or tolerance as being attached to an agenda that forces political correctness. These students employ language that matches the rhetoric from the presidential campaigns. Anti-intellectualism is a viewpoint that some students are demanding to be an option within a course's syllabus. In these cases, some students are very insistent and persistent about alternative lessons so that they do not need to read about, discuss, learn or hear about topics related to tolerance. This aggression resists course objectives and goals as outlined in the course syllabus.
Students who support Trump are getting extremely involved with students who are against Trump. The conversations quickly digress into a fire that is rarely seen with basic politics. On the other hand - students who support Trump for one reason or another are in turn also ostracized from the mainstream as we are a fairly liberal school. It is causing social divide amongst students who were once (if not friends) at least cordial to each other.
Some students are enjoying the tendency of Trump to "speak his mind" and admire him for it. When I have pointed out the dangerous, obnoxious behavior towards other than white males, they think it is funny
Black elementary student, "my cousin in middle school told me that if Trump is elected he is going to shoot all of the black people"