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NEA Cites 'Trump Effect' Among Schoolchildren in Bitter Campaign Against GOP Nominee

NEA Cites 'Trump Effect' Among Schoolchildren in Bitter Campaign Against GOP Nominee

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump (AP Photo)

By    |   Tuesday, 01 November 2016 05:52 PM

The National Education Association strongly opposes Donald Trump for president, with the nation's largest employee union girding its campaign on the so-called negative "Trump Effect" of the Republican's rhetoric on the nation's schoolchildren.

"As educators, we teach our kids that kindness, collaboration and cooperation are important not just in school, but in in life," NEA President Lily Eskelsen García said last month in announcing a digital effort to highlight how Trump's words are playing out in the schools. "Donald Trump sets an example that teaches the wrong lesson.

"The rise in vitriolic speech in classrooms and the anxiety this causes for some of our most vulnerable students shows that Trump’s rhetoric is far more damaging than previously imagined," she said.

Based in Washington, the NEA has nearly 3 million members, 76 percent of whom are women.

The organization has long supported Democrats — and in October 2015 endorsed Hillary Clinton, who has slammed Trump for calling for eliminating most of the Department of Education and ending Pell Grants and other programs like pre-kindergarten.

The NEA's anti-Trump efforts are anchored on a report released in April by the Southern Poverty Law Center entitled "The Trump Effect."

The study is based on survey responses from nearly 2,000 educators who subscribe to the center's "Teaching Tolerance" newsletter. SPLC said it received more than 5,000 comments.

Its findings include:

  • More than two-thirds of the teachers reported students — primarily immigrants, children of immigrants and Muslims —have expressed concerns or fears about what might happen to them or their families after the election.
  • More than half had seen an increase in "uncivil political discourse."
  • More than a third have seen an increase in anti-Muslim or anti-immigrant sentiment.
  • Over 40 percent are reluctant to teach about the presidential election.

"The campaign is having a profoundly negative effect on children and classrooms," the SPLC said in the report. "It's producing an alarming level of fear and anxiety among children of color and inflaming racial and ethnic tensions in the classroom.

"Many students worry about being deported.

"Other students have been emboldened by the divisive, often juvenile rhetoric in the campaign," the report said. "Teachers have noted an increase in bullying, harassment and intimidation of students whose races, religions or nationalities have been the verbal targets of candidates on the campaign trail.

"Educators are perplexed and conflicted about what to do," the law center continued. "They report being stymied by the need to remain nonpartisan but disturbed by the anxiety in their classrooms and the lessons that children may be absorbing from this campaign."

Last week, the NEA endorsed Clinton's "Better Than Bullying" program. It would provide $500 million to states seeking to create efforts among parents and educators to combat bullying.

"The rise in vitriolic speech in classrooms and the anxiety created by Donald Trump illustrate that students need this support now more than ever," Eskelsen García said.

But political strategist Bruce Haynes slammed the SPLC's report, while acknowledging to Newsmax that "the rhetoric around immigration has been strained and the conversation surrounding this election has been more angry and even raunchy than in past races.

"There’s little doubt that Trump is responsible for much of this, and it's no surprise that is has spilled over into classrooms in less than positive ways," said Haynes, founder and president of Purple Strategies in Alexandria, Va. "It's certainly hard enough to be a teacher to begin with, but to add the burden of teaching civics and civility in this climate is almost too much to ask."

He called the law center's report "a largely political document.

"The pejorative name of it alone — 'The Trump Effect' — reveals it to be an unscientific attempt to assemble anecdotal stories into a case against the Republican nominee.

"The report is just one more example of how both parties are politicizing some critical cultural and socioeconomic issues that our nation desperately needs to address," Haynes told Newsmax. "If we focused more on solving these problems instead of promoting bumper sticker sloganeering like 'The Trump Effect,' perhaps we’d have more candidates that teachers are happy to discuss and election of which we could all be proud."
 

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The National Education Association strongly opposes Donald Trump for president, with the nation's largest employee union girding its campaign on the so-called negative "Trump Effect" of the Republican's rhetoric on the nation's schoolchildren.
education, school, Trump Effect, campaign
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Tuesday, 01 November 2016 05:52 PM
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