Teachers told their students everything would be OK after the election. Now, they're not so sure
For months leading up to the presidential election, elementary school teacher Ingrid Villeda tried to instill in her students a certain faith in democracy.
The 18-year veteran of L.A. Unified’s schools looked for simple ways to decode the ugly back-and-forths on TV. She taught her fifth-graders about the virtues of a democratic nation in which ordinary citizens study the candidates’ policy positions and then choose their leaders. She wore suffragette white on election day and told them the story of how women fought for and won the right to vote.
Within the walls of Villeda’s school, 93rd Street Elementary, where roughly three-quarters of the students are Latino, Donald J. Trump and his vow to deport millions of immigrants living in the country illegally seemed far away and fictional. That is, until the morning after the election, when Villeda’s students ran to her in the schoolyard, the sleepless night written on their faces.
“People really don’t like us?” asked a girl from Mexico. “What are we going to do about that?”
Recalling this moment in a phone conversation, Villeda began to cry. “They’re looking at me to be able to stand in front of them and say, ‘You’re OK; we’re going to be fine.’ ”
For students and teachers in the nation’s second-largest school system, the repercussions of America’s choice for president are likely to be both profound and lasting. In L.A. Unified, 74% of the roughly 600,000 students are Latino, and many have relatives and acquaintances who are living in the U.S. without legal permission.
Children are coming to school shrouded in anxiety, asking teachers to interpret the day’s headlines for them, examining each bit of news for its potential threat.
“Am I safe?” many want to know, voicing new concerns about immigration raids or hate-inspired attacks against religious and ethnic minorities as well as LGBT people.
“All week long they’ve been kind of like zombies, numb from shock, and so have a lot of educators,” said Martha Infante, 46, a social-studies teacher at Los Angeles Academy Middle School. The day after the election, she said, was the most difficult day of her career.Teachers told their students everything would be OK after the election. Now, they're not so sure - LA Times: