by Félix Pérez
Anne McQuade, an English language learner teacher in Manchester, NH, has seen firsthand how rhetoric from Donald Trump has trickled into her classroom and community, and she’s concerned about the immediate and long-term harm to students.
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McQuade, whose middle school has students from more than 30 countries and where more than 50 languages are spoken, recounted a recent incident. “An student, who is Muslim, told me that when she got off her bus, a man yelled, ‘Go home terrorist. You shouldn’t be in this country.’ ”
The so-called Trump Effect, chronicled by the Southern Poverty Law Center this spring, is producing fear and anxiety in schools across the country. In its national survey of educators, SPLC found:
- More than two-thirds of the teachers reported that students — mainly 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 have seen an increase in uncivil political discourse.
- More than one-third have observed an increase in anti-Muslim or anti-immigrant sentiment.
Children need positive role models, and they’re watching. A lot of my students feel they will be separated from their parents, their families. They fear they will be sent back to war-torn countries.
McQuade, who has taught at the elementary, middle and high school levels and works closely with refugee and immigrant students, shared the incident involving the immigrant student while participating today in a news conference with officials from the Hillary Clinton campaign to unveil an anti-bullying plan. The initiative, Better Than Bullying, would provide $500 million to help children, families and educators confront the challenge of bullying and heal divisions in communities around the country.
McQuade said that the majority of her students have seen “war, destruction and death. Imagine when they are met by statements made by a presidential candidate who condones bullying and spreads fear.”
From mocking a reporter with a disability, to demeaning women for their appearance, to calling Mexican immigrants “rapists” and “criminals,” Trump has used demeaning and divisive rhetoric and behavior since the launch of his campaign. Trump’s divisive rhetoric has encouraged an increase in hurtful behavior and intimidation that is being reported in communities across the country.
Tony Coelho, former chairman of the President’s Committee on the Employment of People with Disabilities, said Trump “has brought hate back. . . We have a national figure from a major political party who is bullying and mocking others. The stigma that he’s left in the disability community and in other communities is shameful.”
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