Educators, parents fear long-term harm from candidate’s divisive rhetoric saying it undoes ‘everything we teach’ about being a democracy, leaves ‘serious scar tissue’
WASHINGTON – October 24, 2016 – Educators largely consider the presidential campaign an important teaching tool and introduction for many students to how the U.S. government works. With Donald Trump’s remarks at the last presidential debate and on the campaign trail, however, he now threatens to reject the outcome of the election results if he’s not the winner, a lesson no educator wants to teach their students.
“In 13 years of teaching, I have never witnessed such heated, hate-filled rhetoric from the campaign trail,” said Joe Judge, who teaches social studies at Albia Community High School in Albia, Iowa. “Donald Trump says he may not accept the election results. That irresponsible and unprecedented threat undoes everything we teach in social studies and civics classes about what it means to be a democracy. Reckless language like that is never OK, and it undermines what we are trying to teach in the classroom to our students.”
Free and fair elections, along with the peaceful transition of power, are the pillars of a democratic society. For a presidential candidate to throw around false and unfounded accusations that the U.S. election system “is rigged” causes real problems and a negative ripple effect for educators in the classroom.
“Educators returned to schools after the debate and are struggling to explain to their students why a presidential candidate is challenging the legitimacy of the election before most ballots are even cast,” said NEA President Lily Eskelsen García. “It seems like nothing is off limits to Donald Trump, including attacking the foundational principals of our democracy, and he doesn’t care about the destructive wake that he leaves behind him.”
“I am deeply concerned by Donald Trump’s lack of commitment to our core principles of democracy. We are a nation built on a Constitution,” said John deVille, who has taught AP history, U.S. history and philosophy for 20 years at Franklin High School in Franklin, North Carolina. “Mr. Trump has told us that he will not accept the election result unless he is the winner. This is not what we teach our students — and it is not an example we want to set for them. His cynicism is trickling down, and he’s leaving some serious scar tissue on the next generation of voters.”
Parents agree that the newest threats from the polarizing presidential candidate could have a long-term effect on their children. While Trump uses divisive rhetoric of a “rigged” election and promises “suspense” about whether he’ll accept defeat peacefully, parents say they’re fed up.
“I teach my children what’s fair and what’s right — the opposite of what Donald Trump is doing on the campaign trail,” added Michelle Neuhausel of Hilliard, Ohio, whose daughter immigrated to the United States from China. “Trump might be done after November 8, but parents have to clean up the mess he’s making. His words not only hurt, they could do irrevocable harm.”
The National Education Association represents 3 million educators — teachers, education support professionals, professors and administrators, among others, teaching in U.S. public schools and universities — and more than 76 percent of its members are women. NEA is the nation’s largest union with one in 100 Americans identifying as a member of the NEA and represents members in every congressional district. NEA’s members have one of the most sought-after constituencies in this year’s election: white, college-educated women with a predominance living in suburban areas.
“Donald Trump’s words have consequences, and educators are witnessing the negative effect of them in their classrooms,” added Eskelsen García. “Every time he opens his mouth, he reminds our members just how high the stakes are in this election and gives them more reasons to get out the vote on Election Day.”
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The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing nearly 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers. Learn more at www.nea.org.