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Nine out of 10 Educators Report Election Having Negative Impact on School Climate

Nine out of 10 Educators Report Election Having Negative Impact on School Climate

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) via its Teaching Tolerance project asked over 10,000 educators directly after the election how the results are impacting their classrooms.

The survey is just one of SPLC’s efforts to take the pulse of America’s classrooms both before and after the election; in the beginning of the election, SPLC coined the term “The Trump Effect” after one of its educator surveys revealed a hesitance to teach about the election in the classroom due to the harsh rhetoric.

Once again, this latest survey highlights the negative effects that this tough election year is having on America’s classrooms and students.

"Ninety percent of educators,” SPLC said, "report that school climate has been negatively affected, and most of them believe it will have a long-lasting impact.”

"A full 80 percent describe heightened anxiety and concern on the part of students worried about the impact of the election on themselves and their families.”

Eight out of 10 educators, the survey found, said that marginalized students such as immigrants, Muslims, African American and LGBT students have experienced heightened anxiety since the election results were announced. Four out of 10 educators have heard actual derogatory language directed towards these marginalized students.

Over 2,500 educators, SPLC says, have "described specific incidents of bigotry and harassment that can be directly traced to election rhetoric.”

Because of this, teachers say they remain hesitant to discuss the election in their classroom. Half of all respondents, SPLC says, are fearful to do so.

Even further, SPLC says " [s]ome principals have told teachers to refrain from discussing or addressing the election in any way.”

In schools not experiencing tangible moments of harassment and unrest, teachers still report the climate being a difficult one.

"Many of my students feel fear, particularly my students of color, my Latino students, LGBTQ students and so on. They worry about their future and their rights. While we’ve had few episodes of hate, we have had many students (mostly white) tell others to get over it, shake it off and so on. It’s a difficult climate," said one teacher from Washington State.

SPLC has made a series of recommendations accompanying its report for teachers looking to bring positivity back to the school climate.

Recommendations include setting a welcoming tone affirming the school’s values, protecting fearful students, focusing on solid anti-bullying strategies, empowering students to say something if they see something and more. Read the full list of recommendations here.

Teachers have been making national headlines thanks to their unique position of guiding the nation’s children in an unpredictable post-election climate.

Though non-scientific, this survey is one of the first times that teachers have collectively shared their voice. SPLC says it received over 25,000 open-ended responses it is still working to sort through.

Read the full survey here.

Nicole Gorman, Senior Education World Contributor


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