*”A kindergarten teacher in Tennessee says that a Latino child asks every day, ‘Is the wall here yet?’ He was told by classmates that he will be deported and blocked from returning home by the wall proposed by presidential candidate Donald Trump.”
*A high school principal suspended a history teacher after students and parent complained that the teacher in a discussion of Nazism compared Trump to Hitler. The superintendent reinstated the teacher a day later.
* At a walkout of Latino, Asian, and African American high school students, protesting the election of Trump, the principal led the protestors to the school stadium and they aired their concerns about the newly-elected President. At the end of the protest that morphed into a rally against President Trump, the principal said “F*** Trump.” The district superintendent immediately suspended the principal. Two days later, after the principal apologized for his remark to the entire school community, he returned to the school.
The divisions, fears, and epithets unleashed by the year-long primaries and the election of Donald Trump to the Presidency reverberate in mainstream and social media daily. Because schools are political (but not partisan) institutions vulnerable to the cross-currents in the larger society spilling into classrooms, it is (and was) inevitable that those fears get voiced in and out of school.
Protests over the Vietnam War in the late-1960s and early 1970s, President Nixon’s illegal activities in the Watergate break-in, pro-life and abortion rallies, teaching the Adventures of Huck Finn in middle school, climate change, policing minority communities, teaching evolution–to name a few–have been controversial issues that entered classrooms over the past half-century. Parents and students bring those issues into classrooms and the question of teachers airing these issues dispassionately and abiding by norms of critical thinking and impartiality, and students listening to one another arises again and again, then and now. Not a new issue at all.