An elementary school in New York has canceled its mock election over concerns at what some of their students have been saying. The event was canceled after one teacher reported hearing a student say that “Muslims [were] not welcome here” and another reported hearing students chanting the Republican candidate’s name during lunch time:
I mean, kids often repeat what they hear on the TV or the news, but it doesn’t mean it’s OK. We have a diverse community here. We want all our students to feel valued.
The students were being led in a mock election during lunch to help students understand the election. But now teachers say the election will have to be held in the classroom this year where teachers can keep a closer eye on students. Instead, to continue the tradition of teaching students about the democratic process, the school has decided to have a mock election for their favorite lunch item.
After minority students said that they were made uncomfortable with the exercise that seemed to target certain racial groups as students began parroting what they’d heard the Republican nominee saying. It’s unlikely whether any of the students actually understand what they were saying. More likely they are simply repeating the sorts of things they associate with Donald Trump. Still, the outcome was unacceptable:
We still thought it was important to do something with voting and showing democracy in action. We still want them to get excited about Election Day. One thing we’re really trying to teach the students is the differences between opinions and facts. It’s important for our students to be able to express their opinions, but it’s also important for them to be informed about it and not just repeating what they happen to hear.
Mock elections like this have occurred in schools all over America and most without incident. It appears that this year thanks to over the top rhetoric made by Republican nominee Donald Trump that such election lesson plans are no longer a safe topic in our elementary schools. What makes the incident even more tragic is that many of the students are likely hearing racist language from their Republican parents and are too young to understand the difference between what is actually acceptable political behavior and what is a resurgence of racist sentiment in American society. Still teachers are doing their best to set a good example for all students in these difficult times.
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