This election has been a pretty terrible one for parents and teachers, who are faced with truly bizarre decisions like “is it age-appropriate to let my child watch the presidential debates?” and “How do you write about the latest campaign issues when your readers are children?”
We all probably remember being school children during election years and the emphasis our schools placed on civics, the election process, etc. But this year political rhetoric has taken a pretty dark turn, to the point where one elementary school wound up canceling its mock election because fifth graders had started spewing racist and anti-immigrant rhetoric at each other. At one point, teachers said they heard students in the lunchroom saying they didn’t want Muslims at their school.
There are of course Muslim students at their school, and this is a pretty unpleasant thing for them.
“I mean, kids often repeat what they hear on the TV or the news, but it doesn’t mean it’s OK,” Jericho Elementary School principal Glen Rogers told ABC News. “We have a diverse community here. We want all our students to feel valued.”
Any kids repeating anti-Muslim rhetoric at school are presumably also hearing that at home, but “behave like you’re going to be president some day” has taken on a bit of a different connotation than it had when we were kids.
The school says it wants to keep the anti-minority rhetoric out of its halls, but they still want to get kids involved in the election somehow, because civics and the electoral process are still extremely important things for fifth graders to know. So now the kids will instead be voting for the best school lunch. Options include: Bagel with yogurt, chicken nuggets, mozzarella sticks, and “I bring my own lunch from home.”
”We wanted to think of something where students could have the experience of voting in preparation for Election Day,” Rogers said. ”So at least they would be excited about voting for something.”
The kids are reportedly still learning about the actual election in their classrooms, though. Teachers say they’re talking with students about the candidates’ platforms and actual political issues in class, but the school-wide mock election has been canceled.