SPLC asks teachers to report impact of election on children, offers advice for volatile schools

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) today launched a new survey to take the pulse of the nation’s students and teachers following the election of Donald Trump after a divisive campaign that targeted racial, ethnic and religious minorities.

The online survey seeks to update the findings of a survey conducted by the SPLC’s Teaching Tolerance project last spring. Approximately 2,000 teachers answered that survey, providing a rich trove of data about the impact of the campaign on children.

The results of the first survey were reported in The Trump Effect, which described an alarming level of fear and anxiety among children of color, along with inflamed racial and ethnic tensions in the classroom.

“Last spring, teachers told us that many students were upset and frightened by the divisive rhetoric they were hearing,” said Teaching Tolerance Director Maureen Costello. “At the same time, teachers reported an uptick in the harassment of children of color. We want to find out whether the situation has gotten better, or worse.”

The new Teaching Tolerance survey asks educators to describe the post-election climate in their schools.

It asks, for example, whether teachers have detected anti-immigrant or anti-Muslim sentiments, or heard derogatory language directed toward children of color or LGBT students; and whether students are targeting others based on which candidate they supported.

The survey also asks teachers and administrators how they are responding.

“We discovered from the previous survey that many teachers were reluctant to teach about the election,” Costello said. “Many were stymied by the need to remain nonpartisan but deeply disturbed by the language and lessons their children might be absorbing from the campaign. Now, there is a whole new set of challenges.”

Teaching Tolerance also today offered advice to school leaders to help them manage children’s fears and respond to harassment and bias at school.