The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) recently published a report highlighting the effects the General Election had on America’s school-going youth. Simply put, the American public education system fails once again.
SPLC, the controversial civil rights advocacy non-profit, published the responses of over 10,000 teachers, administrators, and counselors who participated in an online survey. Through SPLC’s Teaching Tolerance project, key data concluded that the results of the election has, apparently, added a proudly negative impact on schools, districts, and their students.
The study, entitled “The Trump Effect: The Impact of The 2016 Presidential Election on Our Nation’s Schools,” points to findings that SPLC considers definitive.
90 percent of respondent educators stated that their were negative impacts on the school climate with most believing that they will have lasting effects. Another 80 percent of respondents reported a sense of heightened anxiety in regards to the mental well being of students. Many indicated they they expressed concerns for students and their families.
Here are some of the other key findings from SPLC’s study:
- 9 out of 10 educators who have responded to the survey state that their students are experiencing negative moods and behavioral changes following the election.
- 8 out 10 reported heightened anxiety among who they consider “marginalized students.” This category includes students who are immigrants, Muslims, African Americans and LGBT students.
- Half of the respondents indicated that their students were targeting other students based on political belief.
- Half of respondents, also, indicated that they don’t feel it is appropriate to discuss the election results in the classroom. However, some principals have restricted their teachers from discussing the election, period.
Overall, the study attributed the several issues associated with behavior among students with the rise of President-Elect Donald J. Trump.
In order to prevent “crisis” in the classroom, SPLC recommends that educators must setup the tone and warn the students before hand. Basically, the study recommends a safe space for school children in any conversation relating to the election.
Take the study with a very small grain of salt, or not at all.
SPLC’s motivation, though with positive intention, is misplaced. The paradigms analyzed within this study go back to the continually damaging debate surrounding limiting freedom of expression and conscience in education.
Even if you do not agree with the results of the election, if the SPLC data is taken as credible on most instances, the idea of civil discourse and exposure to ideas is lost.
Students, not matter what level of education, have the right to be challenged mentally in order for them to develop their own world views. Not what society says. Students also deserve the right to protect themselves from ideas they don’t like, as well as any American; however, educators and social justice advocates need to let children learn and figure things out themselves.
Innocence, in most cases, is eroded by a child’s natural curiosity. Freedom of thought is a basic human right, promulgated in the modern day through the 1st Amendment of our Constitution. Nothing should ever threaten that.
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