In speaking to school psychology students and professionals about the day after the election, without exception they spoke of high levels of socio-emotional distress in their students. Some students were worried about their families being torn apart by mass deportations. Others were confused that someone they had seen bully and degrade others for months had won. Yet others were afraid that it was no longer safe to be open about the most fundamental aspects of themselves. A colleague of mine spoke of the Latina mother of one of her students coming in with bleached blonde hair. When she asked the mother about the drastic change she replied, “Don’t you know, Trump won. We have to blend in now”. Part of the universality of these anxietous responses is due to living and working in a liberal enclave; it does not make their pain any less real nor negate our charge to find ways to ameliorate it. In a world where truth is no longer a constant and promises change as quickly as it takes to type 140 characters, it is only natural that our students are feeling psychologically, emotionally, and physically vulnerable. Students need help navigating these tumultuous waters so that they can get back to the business of learning. One tool that has been shown to both improve students’ sense of wellbeing and academic outcomes is mindfulness (Vogel & Schwabe, 2016; Maynard, Solis, Miller, 2015).
By Kimberly Sazon
How does one educator make a difference in her classroom? In this world? After only two years of being a 3rd grade teacher, I was not expecting one of the most crucial lessons of my career.
The morning after election results were announced, I made the decision to pause my morning lesson plans and adjust it to address the most horrific news: Trump was going to be the President-elect.
I can still remember driving to work and running into the arms of my colleague with tears in our eyes, trying to face the reality we were in. We kept telling ourselves, this is not happening, this is not happening. Since news that Trump had won the election, a buzz of anger, fear, and heartache filled the hallways of our elementary school. We all asked the same question: What were we going to tell the children?
By Froswa’ Booker-Drew, PhD
2008 and 2016 are both years that are memorable. In 2008, I remember driving around the city with relatives to pick up newspapers with the headline reading “Barack Obama is the President of the United States.” I remember crying because I never thought in my lifetime that I would see an African American President and his family in the White House. The year was important to me on so many levels. My daughter had just turned 8 years old, and I could finally tell her—like so many parents of color—that she could become the President one day. Despite years of segregation, systemic injustices, and racism in the history of this country, there was a chance that those years of pain and struggle had ended. This was the beginning of a new era, I thought.
I remember going to bed early on the night before the 2016 election. I knew the outcome in my head, and did not feel I needed to stay up to watch results. That morning, my 16-year-old daughter entered our bedroom crying hysterically. She was devastated and could not believe that the country that elected Barack Obama would elect Donald Trump. She was afraid and concerned for her future. She was afraid for her friends who are immigrants to this country. She was afraid for her friends who are part of the LBGTQ community. She was afraid for her own existence because of being a multiracial teen. My daughter was paralyzed because she did not know what the future would hold for her, for her family, for her friends, for her community. I could not express it, but my thoughts raced about what could happen. I reassured my baby that things would be fine and that despite the challenges that might arise, we are fighters. We don’t give up. Our heritage is proof of that. We must resist. Resistance is never futile.
By Tiffany Karalis
I watch as the celebration of Trump’s victory dominates every outlet of media in my radius.
What am I going to tell my students tomorrow? How do I approach this professionally when personally I’m filled with extreme terror, anger and, perhaps most of all, sadness for the decision our Nation has made for itself?
Having been on both sides of the classroom—as student and teacher—I have observed and experienced a wide range of attitudes, perceptions, discriminatory behaviors, insecurities, coteries, and puzzling moments that have taken various forms.
Am I smart enough? Am I well-liked? Am I attractive? Will I get into grad school? Will I get a job? Am I accepted by society’s standards? What if I fail?
By Dr. Curry Malott
Abstract: In this article Dr. Malott challenges the conclusion that the primary factor that led to Trump’s victory in the 2016 United States Presidential election was the racism of poor whites. Rejecting this position for its capitulation to bourgeois caricatures of segments of the working class, Malott points to the fall of communism for a more historically contextualized understanding of how we got to where we are. That is, this essay notes that the rise of the socialist bloc after WWII was so inspiring to the world’s oppressed and colonized that it slowed down capitalism’s tendency toward an extending rate of exploitation. After the fall of the Soviet Union and the socialist bloc, and an aggressive anti-communist campaign, capitalists unleashed a more aggressive capitalism called neoliberalism. After nearly five decades of neoliberal wealth redistribution, and the destruction of the communist movement, right wing demagogy has risen in European country after European country. Meanwhile, the white working class—like other segments of the working class—is desperate for economic relief and is increasingly susceptible to racist ideology. It is within this context that Trump rose to power. As a response to Trump, and capitalism more generally, this essay argues for a communist education and the organization of the party form.
By Vanessa Vargas
When I first applied to begin my in-service teacher training, I was hopeful. I was hopeful because I knew I would be receiving superb training from a master teacher. I was hopeful because I felt I had finally found my calling. But mostly, I was hopeful because I felt I would be stepping into a role where I could make a difference in the lives of inner-city children just like me.
I was born and raised in (South Central) Los Angeles to Mexican immigrants who, like so many before them, had immigrated to the United States in pursuit of their American Dream. Every day since I can remember they have tirelessly worked their fingers to the bone fueled with the hope that their children would one day go to college and have opportunities that they could only dream of.
For my teaching residency I was placed in a neighborhood adjacent to where I grew up. It is a community no different than the one I grew up in and one I knew very well because of its proximity to my childhood home. It was a community notorious for its underperforming schools, poverty, and high crime rate. But I knew better. I knew that its residents were much more than the statistics that defined them to the outside world. The residents were people like my parents and neighbors. It was a community of immigrants who daily strived for a better tomorrow despite great dangers and lack of opportunities. These were not the Mexican immigrants Mr. Trump had so infamously alluded to at the beginning of his campaign.
By Aaron Samuel Zimmerman
As the era of a Trump presidency begins, educators are compelled to ask the following questions: What will be the role of education in this new era? How might education reshape the ideologies that currently define our nation’s politics? What role might education play in bridging the contentious divide between different political subgroups? In attempting to formulate answers to these questions, I believe it is helpful and important to distinguish between two types of intellectuals: traditional intellectuals and organic intellectuals, a distinction originally highlighted by Antonio Gramsci (1971). In this essay, I will draw upon Gramsci’s cultural theories to argue that, if we collectively aspire for education to play a prominent role in reshaping our nation’s cultural discourse in this new era, we must be mindful of how ideological, hegemonic forces manipulate individuals (including intellectuals) into consenting to their own exploitation.
By Lisa Kuh, Ph.D.
Children’s Emotional Experiences
"I didn't mean to vote for that bad man! I made a mistake!" (A., Age 6)
"We don't say bad words, right? Why is he saying bad words." (E., Age 4)
"I will miss my friends. My mom says we can't live here anymore." (I., Age 6)
The days immediately following the November 7, 2016, presidential election brought a range of emotions into our homes, schools, and communities—some that children could identify and others that were more complex.
In many communities, as children observed adult behavior related to the election, they felt the tension in the months and weeks before, and in the days that followed. They felt, and still feel, confusion and, often, fear. How we respond to these emotions further shapes how children feel and develop an understanding of complex issues.
I spoke to educators across the country, especially childhood educators in Somerville, Cambridge, and Boston, Massachusetts, and the stories were the same. Children were asked by peers if they were born here. Girls were called "fat pigs" and were told, "Now we can say that." Children were told, "Go back to your country!" from across the cafeteria, playground, or campus. High school students in our communities were snap chatting photos of their suitcases as a symbol of what might come.
In this essay, I discuss how educators in the Somerville Public Schools helped children to process the election. First, I discuss ways the city and school district supported its most vulnerable families, followed by how two early childhood teachers utilized one of their most important tools, the curriculum, to explore bravery and leadership with their students. Finally, I offer resources for educators to support their conversations with children.
By Pamela M. Jones
If past is indeed prologue, we as a society have found ourselves at yet another juncture that marks a watershed moment in our history, one that rings all too familiar. Trump’s election is reminiscent of other dark periods out of which we’ve emerged after protracted struggles for justice. While the “we” to whom I refer captures society-at-large, the “we” to whom I write specifically in this essay are the educators among us. We possess varying levels of schema for how to process this turn of events and how to take action; however, we are still in the midst of a grieving process the likes of which many have not experienced in our lifetimes. We are mourning the absence of what was supposed to be, and wondering how we arrived at this place where a Trump presidency was not only possible but also, probable. We had already begun erecting literal and figurative structures aligned with a Clinton victory, shrugging off the unthinkable, the unspeakable—a Trump upset. Even for those of us who had faced the stark reality of a Trump victory in the months leading up to the election, November 9th marked the beginning of a journey shrouded in fear and uncertainty.
By Ethan S. Ake
Political Context of School Choice
For many in the education community, the election of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States has sounded a deafening alarm over the future of public education. And with the announcement of Elizabeth DeVos, a staunch advocate of the school choice movement and the architect of Detroit’s charter school system, as the future Secretary of Education, there is a palpable fear among educators that her yet-to-be-proposed policies will not only accelerate the decline of the nation’s urban public schools, but also exasperate longstanding inequities in education from school funding to the “achievement” gap. Although it is incumbent upon the education community––practitioners, administrators and researchers––to resist any measure that promotes inequality, it would be naïve to hold the incoming administration exclusively accountable for failed reform policies in public, and in particular in urban, education.
By Azadeh Osanloo, Ph.D., Wendi Miller-Tomlinson, Ph.D., & Jennifer Haan, Ph.D. candidate
A triptych is a work of art (usually a panel painting) that is divided into three sections, or three carved panels that are hinged together and can be folded shut or displayed open. The middle panel is typically the largest and it is flanked by two smaller related works, although there are triptychs of equal-sized panels.
We chose the concept of a triptych of poems to showcase the epistemological coexistence of connectedness and separateness. The concept of intersectionality unites us, while simultaneously renders us distinct. The triptych is connected, yet separate, much like our reactions to the election.
Through the three poems below we highlight the panels of before, immediately after, and the future of a Trump Presidency. Each of the three authors and educators embody unique forms of Otherness, yet our fear, trepidation, and concern unify us.
By Siqing “Erica” He, Jerald Isseks, & Deirdre Dougherty
This conversation was born out of the concerns of several graduate students over classroom environments at Rutgers University after the election. We found that instructors did not know what was appropriate to engage with in their classes with both undergraduates and graduate students; this uncertainty was bred not only by instructors’ doubts about the validity of their own subjectivities and the responsibility of stoking an already vitriolic atmosphere, but by troubling silences and campaigns of suppression coming from institutional administrations. How could instructors be tactful in broaching the issue of Donald Trump’s election, knowing that some students had voted for him, and others, by consequence, feared for their lives? How could we advocate for the importance of such material in our curricula, when politics was implicitly seen as off-topic, or expressly discouraged by higher-ups?
By Leela Velautham
‘One in five American households do not have a single member in the labor force’
This was a statistic heralded by President elect Donald Trump, in a speech during the election campaign, to illustrate the apparently huge number of unemployed Americans, and thus, to expose the perilous state of the American economy. (Appelbaum, 2016)
However, if considered critically, this is also statistic that is incredibly misleading.
Trump may be correct that fewer Americans, as a percentage of the total population, are engaged in traditional employment today as compared to previous decades. However, the statistic above does not serve as proof that more Americans are unemployed, and indeed, is more indicative of the fact that 20% of American households are headed by retirees. In this statistic, Trump is tacitly classifying retirees, 16-17 year olds and stay-at-home moms as being within the ranks of the unemployed. Although this classification may be technically accurate, it is misleading information with respect to informing the public about the general state of the economy.
By Jude Berman
I wrote this poem in the middle of the night, late on Nov 8th, after coming home from what was supposed to be our victory party at the Hillary Clinton campaign office on Solano Ave, where I had worked many long hours over the past weeks...
As a woman, I weep
As a child of immigrants, I weep
As a daughter of Earth, I weep
As a weaver of words, I weep
As a fighter for peace, I weep
As a lover of truth, I weep
As a believer in hope, I weep
As a friend of all lovers, I weep
As an American, I weep
As a human, I weep
Jude Berman, EdD, is a freelance writer/editor (specializing in psychology and education) who paints and writes fiction in her spare time. As of Nov 9, 2016, she knows she no longer has the luxury to be anything short of fully involved in our political world. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
By Adam Freas & Jesus Limon-Guzman
100 Years and Running
Before the start of this past fall semester, our campus, a large northern California community college, celebrated its 100th anniversary. One of the lead programs featured a panel of current faculty, staff, and students, in addition to a former Japanese American student who attended the college during World War II. As a student, she experienced our government’s efforts to round up Japanese Americans for imprisonment in internment camps. She shared her experiences during that time and provided pictures from the campus, which offered some insight into how the college responded, or failed to respond, to such a deplorable time in our country’s history.
Without ill regard, her powerful retelling of her student experiences provided an opportunity for the panelists and campus as a whole to reflect and process how our histories impact our current institutional practices and students. Her story offered an opportunity for us to contextualize our current role as a public institution of education. Instead, however, the panel and campus at large responded minimally to this conversation; it may have been startling or inspiring in the moment but few actions or outcomes were attached. Most attendees returned to the normalcy of preparing for the upcoming semester and did not fully reflect on the relevancy of her story.
Call for Conversations: