SAN FRANCISCO (CBS) – More than six months before the presidential election, teachers from California and across the country are seeing the campaign’s negative impact on children and classrooms, particularly among minority students.
In an unscientific poll of 2,000 K-12 teachers, the Southern Poverty Law Center found most of the teachers observed students, particularly immigrants, children of immigrants and Muslims, were worried about what would happen to them after the election.
The advocacy group also found more than half of the teachers who responded have seen an increase in uncivil political discourse on campus. Some also reported seeing anti-Muslim or anti-immigrant sentiment.
Teachers also responded with their own comments (.pdf) about how the election is impacting their classrooms. Out of 5,000 comments from teachers across the country, about 1,000 referenced Republican frontrunner Donald Trump, far more than Sen. Ted Cruz, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton or Sen. Bernie Sanders.
“I teach in a very conservative area of California, so I was already hearing unsettling comments from my students. This election year has intensified them even more,” one California teacher said.
“There is racial discrimination that has been happening at our kids’ school [in California]. But it has increased and become more aggressive lately!” another teacher wrote.
“There’s regular conversation and some of it is healthy debate,” a Southern California teacher said. “Yet those with extreme views seem to be loudest and boldest.”
“Somehow they feel, despite all we teach about tolerance and empathy, that it’s fine to repeat the nasty comments made by Tea Party and extreme conservative movement — and the comments are entirely quoted, nothing original from the students’ own conscious thinking,” the teacher added. “Since my school is conservative, much of it is tolerated. They avoid taking stances against the outward disrespect of President Obama – although it was nice to see my principal demand a teacher remove the Confederate Flag he draped proudly over his classroom window…”
Teachers from the Bay Area also offered their observations.
“I have not noticed an increase in anti-immigrant or anti-Muslim sentiment on campus, and our campus is very diverse,” one Bay Area teacher said.
“I teach in San Francisco, CA. So there are a lot of students who express how they hate Donald Trump, but if anything, it’s made them more understanding and aware of politics,” another teacher said.