Political Discourse Trickles Down in American Schools

Whether or not we like it, adults are role models for all children, not just our own. So, since the beginning of the Trump administration, many wonder how much the new political climate has influenced what our children perceive as acceptable in academic and professional settings. A study released by the UCLA Institute for Democracy, Education and Access has some troubling results for everyone.

Over the past year, it feels natural that classrooms should have grown more belligerent, mirroring how the national discourse of politics has grown more heated and less civil. While there are many educators confirming that their classrooms have become more difficult to control as students begin to grow more confrontational, with more than half who work with large minority classrooms reporting that their students are having increasing difficulty at staying focused on their studies, other results seem more concrete.

For example, in districts and schools without leadership action, the disruption to the classrooms has been more pronounced. And more than forty percent of educators reported that their students had relied on unsubstantiated information in growing numbers over the year previously.

Predominantly White schools also show trends of becoming more hostile to minority students, including racial minorities, LGBTQ students, and religious minorities. The study even goes so far as to flag these trends as challenges to the democratic function of education as a force for leveling the playing field.

December 8, 2017

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