What Would Donald Trump Becoming President Mean for Schools?
November 7, 2016
With the election coming up on November 8, the two candidates are scrambling and saying anything to get just a couple points ahead. This has created an unexpectedly huge ramification upon students and staff in schools.
Social-media outlets have highly impacted this election, especially amongst the young generation. While some may argue that it is important for students and the young generation to be involved in politics, others say that, because of the negativity of the election and fear of what it would do to children, this is the wrong time for children to be involved.
Much of the fear of the ramifications of Trump becoming president is justified. For example, a middle school teacher from Portland, Oregon reported that her principal prohibited the teachers from talking about the election. But the order didn’t stop one of her students from telling an immigrant classmate, “When Trump wins, you and your family will get sent back.” The teacher asked the question, “What does a teacher do? I can assure you that if a student says that loudly and brazenly in class, far worse is happening in the hallway.”¹
Of 2,000 K-12 teachers surveyed by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) over two-thirds of teachers reported that young people in their schools, most often immigrants, children of immigrants, Muslims, African Americans and other students of color, expressed concern about what might happen to them or their families after the election. This is a frightening thought as close to one-third of the students in American classrooms are children of foreign-born parents.
According to the SPLC, some Muslim students even think that, if Trump becomes president, they will have microchips implanted under their skin.
“He came home from school and recounted a conversation he’d had with his friends on the playground. Many … come from immigrant families and/or are black or brown. He told me they know that if Donald Trumpet [sic] was elected that we would have to move to another continent to be safe and that there would be a big war. He is very nervous about being sent away with my husband who is also Korean American,” describes an elementary school social worker about her 8-year-old son who was adopted from Korea.¹
“Students who had undocumented family members and relatives are afraid of what other kids will think of them if they find out. One [fourth-grade] student reported that she thought everyone hated her because her mother was illegal and she didn’t want to come to school. Over 35 percent of our students are Mexican. I’ve never had this … before this year,” wrote an elementary school administrator in Vancouver, Washington.¹
Many teachers reported an increase in use of the n-word as a slur, even among very young children. And black children are burdened with a particularly awful fear that has been reported from teachers in many states—that they will “be deported to Africa” or that slavery will be reinstated.¹
This fear is occasionally based on Trump’s stated foreign policy on illegal immigrants, and misunderstanding what Trump has said through classmates and social media. Trump’s policies on education, while not as specific as many would prefer, seem well articulated and robust.
For example, Trump states:
“I’m a tremendous believer in education. But education has to be at a local level. We cannot have the bureaucrats in Washington telling you how to manage your child’s education.
So Common Core’s a total disaster – we can’t let it continue. We are rated 28th in the world – the United States! – think of it! – 28th in the world – and, frankly, we spend far more per pupil than any other country in the world…by far – it’s not even a close second. So here we are, we spend more money, and we’re rated 28 – third world countries are ahead of us.
We’re gonna end Common Core, we’re gonna have education [as] an absolute priority.”³
On Oct. 18, 2015, Trump even told Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace that, if elected President, he would consider cutting the Education Department entirely.²
He also believes children here in America deserve a school choice, “As President, I will establish the national goal of providing school choice to every American child living in poverty,” Trump said. “If we can put a man on the moon, dig out the Panama Canal and win two world wars, then I have no doubt that we as a nation can provide school choice to every disadvantaged child in America.”
In May, a senior Trump policy advisor, Sam Clovis, told Inside Higher Ed that a Trump administration would work to get the government out of the student loan business and restore lending to private banks.²
Trump’s ideas are affecting students and teachers immensely–both positively and negatively. A wide range of reaction to Trump’s ideas, from students getting harassed and bullied due to where they or their parents are from, to Trump saying that he will remove Common Core and that he will put education as an absolute priority. This election stands out from all others, and is having a large repercussion amongst students and staff at schools.