Disclaimer: I have family members who are Trump supporters and had some really good conversations with them, so I understand why some people are voting for Trump. However, I cannot. My goal in this post is not to offend anyone (teacher or otherwise), but to speak up for what I believe in. I am not trying to convince readers, but simply stating my opinion. If your opinion is different than mine, I respect that and I hope that you respect mine as well. Thank you <3
If you haven’t been following my blog or are new here, then you may not know that I had the privilege of writing my entire fifth grade curriculum (with the exception of Math). Four years ago, I found the exact kind of school I was looking for - a school that gives me the trust and freedom to do what I think is best for my students. The number one greatest joy I get from this kind of an opportunity is that it gives me the chance, every single school year, to teach my students how to be the best versions of themselves. That is the over-arching theme in my classroom and what I continue to come back to throughout the entire school year.
And although my curriculum teaches academics, it also focuses very much on being a good person and a positive part of society. It is because of what I believe and what I teach every day that I will not be able to look my students in the eyes and tell them that I will vote for Donald Trump. There is no way that I could teach my curriculum and at the same time tell my students that I am voting for a man who goes against every moral value I expect my students to uphold. I was in bed the other night thinking about each one of my units of study and how Donald Trump just doesn’t fit into the equation. Let me break it down for you.
Unit 1: Building a Community of Kind Learners
The title of this unit alone makes it pretty obvious as to why I couldn’t vote for a man who clearly does not demonstrate kindness even in the least. Some examples include making up nicknames for his opponents so much so that the general public is being brainwashed into believing the names and lies actually identify these people’s personalities and things they have done, he degrades women and comments on their looks, he announced that he could shoot someone on the street and not lose a vote, he called President Obama the most ignorant and worst president we’ve ever had and so on. Of course, this isn’t it. I could list more examples, but keep reading. You’ll see those examples come up to support other points I plan to make.
During Unit 1, I also teach about the 5 major religions. Students make connections between religious beliefs and the choices people make. We also discuss the importance of learning about the different religions so that we appreciate people who are different from us. Learning about religion gives students the opportunity to UNDERSTAND those who have different beliefs. This type of learning helps create a productive and tolerant society. Obviously proposing a ban on people because of their religion does not help support my teaching objectives in this part of the unit.
Unit 1 has an over-arching goal to bring the classroom together and realize that our differences from one another are what make our classroom successful. To then tell my students that I voted for a man who wants to build a wall to keep Mexicans out of our country as well as set a ban on all Muslims from entering, well that would make me a hypocrite.
Unit 2: Alaskan Exploration and Research-Based Learning
Part of this unit in particular teaches about the Alaskan culture and so again, we get into appreciating the different ways in which people choose to live their lives. This part of the school year will be during the months of Oct – Dec.; right before and right after the election. So, it is only natural that I will be incorporating a project and activities that teach about how elections work, goals of politicians, states they need to win and how that all works. We will dabble in propaganda a bit (but focus more on that in Unit 4) and without a doubt, students will be expressing who they would vote for if they were old enough. I hope to share clips from debates, but after how I saw Donald Trump act and things he said in the primaries… well, I have a vested interest in keeping my job, so I am not sure that is a possibility yet.
Unit 3: American History and the Struggle for Human Rights (Focus: WWII , Civil Rights Movement and Exceptional Children’s Education)
During this unit, I start with teaching students about Japanese Internment Camps during WWII, the Holocaust and the role women played at home in our states. We discuss the importance and goal of learning about such a dark time in history – so that history does NOT repeat itself. Students inevitably make the connection between having the Japanese-Americans put into camps and essentially blamed for Pearl Harbor along with the general reaction of people becoming racist against Japanese-Americans because our government was publicly accusing them of the attack on our land. The connection? Donald Trump is essentially blaming all Muslims for the terrorist attacks and he is proposing a ban on them coming into our country. There is no doubt that because of the rhetoric he spews, Americans are becoming afraid of and prejudice against Muslims. He is also calling for a wall to be built to keep Mexicans out because he said “the ones that come over are stealing from us, taking our jobs, killing our people and raping our women.” Hmm now what kind of thoughts do you think this feeds into the minds of those who are susceptible to this type of influence, our kids? Do you think the lives of Muslims and Mexicans in our country have become easier or more difficult since Trump has been given a podium on a stage?
My school backs up to a neighborhood that is mostly made up of Latinos. Students see these families every morning when they come to school, sometimes after school kids from the neighborhood come to our campus and play on the swings and field. There have been instances of vandalism on our property and I make sure to remind my students that we cannot blame those who come here to play. It wouldn’t make sense anyway, but here they have a very influential man going on TV and swearing up and down there needs to be a wall to keep these horrible people out. I can see where my students would be made confused as to what to think. Surely he must be telling the truth if he is our elected nominee, and even more so if he is our president!
In the last part of Unit 3, I teach students about exceptional children; those with physical disabilities and learning disabilities. We read a memoir from a girl who had dyscalculia and struggled throughout school, but learned she had a talent for writing. We visit a coffee shop in town owned by a mother with two children who have Down Syndrome. Every person hired at the coffee shop has Down Syndrome, so I bring my class there as a way to honor the commitment to a beautiful cause. I invite guest speakers that work to advocate and educate children with disabilities. I don’t think I even need to explain about the time Donald Trump imitated and degraded a reporter with a disability and how that clearly does not align with what I teach. It makes me sick to my stomach to know that a man who did that could be our next president.
A president is someone who has a moral standing unlike most. Someone who is respectful, caring, compassionate, understanding. Someone who can relate to the people. Not someone who makes snap judgements and decisions and says when someone else viciously attacks him, he will always strike back, even if it is a grieving Gold Star family. Presidents should be above that. Presidents are supposed to teach our children how to face adversity and be a ROLE MODEL. A person who children aspire to be. If any one of my students told me that they aspire to be Donald Trump, I would have to ask why and then counsel the student.
Unit 4: Media and the World Around Us
During this unit, I teach about the media and the influences they have on the choices we make. I teach students about the importance of doing their own research and challenging information they find on the internet. We talk about facts. For example, numbers not mentioned or situations not accounted for and how that can skew a finding in order to influence a common belief. We talk about good questions to ask someone. I also teach about the importance of LISTENING and the goal not being to necessarily convince your audience, but to understand them. We use the internet. However, I would have to tell my students that they are not allowed to search for images of our potential next first lady for fear of inappropriate images coming up in the search.
Among all of these social and academic objectives that I teach my students, throughout the entire school year, I am constantly coming back to and reminding my students of these lessons: How to have an argument with each other, how to apologize and how to advocate RESPECTFULLY for themselves and their friends. Most importantly, I teach them that if they see someone being treated unfairly or doing something they do not think is right, then they must speak up. If they don’t, I tell my students that they are then condoning the behavior they believe to be wrong. So, in taking my own advice and teaching, I cannot sit back and not say anything when I see Donald Trump insult a grieving Gold Star family because he felt attacked. I cannot sit back and stay silent when he mocks a reporter with a disability. I cannot look the other way or worse, make an excuse and say “well Hillary” – when I see him look into the camera at a press meeting and tell Russia if they are listening that he hopes they find his opponent’s emails and says Vladimir Putin is a “strong leader, a better leader than our President Obama”. If I did not say something, or make it clear I do not agree with him, then I am no better. I also want my students to be very clear and not question whether I do or do not support Donald Trump. My students will know that I do not support the negativity and hate.
Lastly, I refuse to help set this new precedent for a US President. Donald Trump is not presidential material in more ways then I care to describe in this post. If as a teacher I can’t repeat what he says and expect to keep my job, then why would I help to give him the highest ranking job in our country? He says he doesn’t want to be politically correct, but no one told him that political correctness means to display kindness and compassion, to be nonjudgmental. A politician needs to be politically correct! As much as he says he isn’t a politician, he is now applying for that job.
Unfortunately, because he was nominated as our Republican candidate, this election becomes less about policy (though he doesn’t have any of those either), and more about morals and choosing between what is right and what is wrong. When November comes and I have to vote, I will tell my students that I will CHOOSE KIND just like I tell them to do.