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Teachers Face Difficult Decision on Inauguration Day


As Donald Trump formally assumes his role as President of the United States, the leaders of America’s classrooms are facing a tough decision: to show and discuss the inauguration, or to leave it out?

Donald Trump’s presidency will likely go down in history as one of the most divisive in America's history. His frequent lack of a filter has led many to label him a racist; a sexist; a bigot. Educators who hold this opinion of Trump worry that showing the inauguration would essentially condone views that they feel should never be tolerated in a classroom or school environment.

Post-election, a Teaching Tolerance study found that the negative rhetoric resulted in a significant uptick in bullying, harassment and violence in U.S. schools. In fact, nine out of 10 educators, the Southern Poverty Law Center said, reported the election having some sort of negative impact on their respective school climates.

Due to the negativity, many teachers have opted to leave election talk out of their classroom. Their own personal beliefs, too, have led them to consider boycotting the inauguration ceremony completely. 

The Face of the Debate

One teacher who has made such a decision, elementary school teacher Brett Meteyer, has become the face of the national debate on whether or not teachers should be obligated to show their students the political process regardless of views.

Meteyer, according to the Lansing State Journal, sent an e-mail home to parents to explain his decision for not showing their children the inauguration. The e-mail was posted online and has since gone viral.

"Because I am concerned about my students and your children being exposed to language and behavior that is not in concert with the most conservative social and family values, I have decided to show the inauguration of Donald Trump this Friday, but we will not view Mr. Trump's inauguration speech," reads Meteyer’s e-mail.

Addressing a slew of concerns from parents following the e-mail, the school's superintendent responded that the decision to show or to not show inauguration ceremonies is ultimately up to the individual teacher. 

The Dos and Dont's

For teachers who do decide to show the inauguration, a principal in one Atlanta school district decided to send out a list of tips to ensure a productive conversation. The five steps recommended, according to, are:

  • avoid interjecting your personal political beliefs 
  • allow the students to communicate with each other 
  • use instructional resources 
  • ensure students communicate respectfully 
  • connect the inaugural activities to the curriculum

The Teachers Traveling to D.C.

While the country's teachers debate on whether or not to show today's inauguration of Donald Trump, there are a group of teachers who have made their way to D.C., fully committing to showing their students the political process.

One such educator is Chicago-based Jenny Vincent. For the second time, Vincent is accompanying a group of middle school students to Inauguration Day ceremonies with the help of EF Explore America.

Vincent, who attended Barack Obama's second inauguration, described the first experience as something she'll never forget. As her students experienced history first-hand, she described their energy to be tangible as they vibrated "like live wires."

Vincent has been planning today's trip for months, and she wasn't about to shy away from the opportunity because of the controversial candidate now standing on today's stage. Instead, Vincent told Education World she is showing her students how tolerance of varying political views is what makes American democracy work.

"I think that there is such a beautiful thing about middle schoolers. Their eyes are open to so many new things almost on a minute-by-minute basis ... that they vacillate so much. As educators we've been very deliberate in challenging what they think is good and what they think is bad and presenting multiple perspectives almost in a kaleidoscope fashion," Vincent said.

Education World would like to know: Will YOU be showing or discussing Donald Trump's inauguration in your classroom?




Will you be showing or discussing the inauguration of Donald Trump in your classroom?

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