We currently have a new president whose advisers have a long history of promoting Islamophobia and boosting white nationalists. What does that mean, wonders Kristina Rizga—a journalist who reports on schools, and teachers—for today’s school bullies and their victims?
Extreme views among young people can be contagious, says Rizga, since they are more susceptible than adults to peer pressure. Add to that a “testing craze stripped schools of a key mission: creating engaged citizens.”
But some educators are also part of the problem. The American Civil Liberties Union last year, for example, filed a complaint after a Muslim sixth-grader from Somalia, who had raised his hand to answer a question, was smacked down by his teacher with: “I can’t wait until Trump is elected. He’s going to deport all you Muslims…You’re going to be the next terrorist, I bet.” Rizga says that the school denies these allegations.
“Until the late ’60s, three different courses in civic studies were common in American high schools, and they often focused on helping students apply the dry mechanics of government to solving problems in their own communities,” Rizga points out.
In the era of Trump, we all could certainly use more instruction. Rizga says, there is actually help on the way.