LAUSD leaders react to Trump’s victory and ‘feelings of fear and anxiety’
Craig Clough | November 9, 2016
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Education leaders in Los Angeles reached out to their schools and communities a day after Donald Trump was elected president to address “feelings of fear and anxiety.”
During his campaign, Trump had vowed to deport millions of immigrants and build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico. LA Unified’s student body is 74 percent Latino, and an estimated 10 percent of LA’s population is estimated to be undocumented immigrants. In February, the LA Unified school board voted unanimously to make the district a “safe zone” for undocumented immigrants.
On the day after the election, LA Unified leaders looked to calm fears. While protests and student walkouts were reported by the Los Angeles Times at Berkeley High School, UCLA, USC, UC Santa Barbara, UC San Diego, Cal State LA, downtown Los Angeles and Oakland. ABC7 reported Wednesday afternoon that students at Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools marched out of class.
Here are how some LA Unified leaders are reacting to the election and communicating with teachers and students:
• LA Unified Superintendent Michelle King said in a statement, “The 2016 Presidential Election provides many teachable moments in L.A. Unified’s classrooms. We teach our students that they have a right to freedom of speech. They are also allowed to participate in peaceful demonstrations on campus during non-instructional times, within parameters set by administrators. They are not permitted to leave school. Because fears and emotions may be running high after the election results, we directed school-based staff to talk with students, and if necessary, identify those who may need support. In an abundance of caution, district staff also has initiated conversations about student rights. At LA Unified, the safety of students and staff remains our highest priority.”
• LA Unified school board President Steve Zimmer said in a statement, “As students and staff arrive at school today, we know there may be feelings of fear and anxiety, especially within our most vulnerable communities. The district is providing additional supports to those who need it. With emotions running high, our schools will continue to be the anchors of our neighborhoods. We ask our teachers and school leaders to continue their amazing work of listening to our students and striving together to assure that public education is the great civil rights engine of democracy. As we do every day, we will take all necessary steps to ensure the safety and well-being of our students, staff and schools. And the work with our families to fulfill the American Dream continues today.”
• In an email to teachers titled, “Meet Hate with Love Always, Especially Today,” Magnolia Public Schools CEO Caprice Young wrote, “Helping students make sense of politics is especially difficult when we have difficulty understanding it ourselves. No matter where you stood in this election, today our job is to come together. As Magnolia leaders, we work to create socially responsible global citizens who make decisions based on evidence. Ignorance is ended by education. Enmity is stopped through understanding. Reach to teach … listen to your kids. Use this confusion as an opportunity to rise together.”
• In an email to staff, Alliance College-Ready Public Schools CEO Dan Katzir wrote, “Last night’s election was a surprise for many of us. I know that many of you, like me, have emotions about what this election means. I share your distress at the hateful and mean-spirited discourse of the campaign, the exposure of the deep divides in our country, and the scapegoating of the very communities we serve. Despite our own possible distress, now is the time for us to be strong for our scholars and families, many of whom are feeling more vulnerable than ever. Our mission has never been more urgent. Our daily work has never been more important.”
• The LA teachers union, UTLA, is an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, which endorsed Hillary Clinton. In a statement today, AFT President Randi Weingarten said, “Though heartbroken at this result, this was about economic change and a yearning for change, not an undermining of all things we hold dear like public schools. Across the country in local races—from ballot initiatives in Georgia and Massachusetts, to school boards in New Orleans and Corpus Christi, to levies that will support schools in Cincinnati, Cleveland and the San Francisco Community College District, to Proposition 55 in California and much more—voters chose to lift up and protect the institution of public education. Our members across the country worked hard not just for Hillary, but for their local schools, their hospitals, their public services—and many prevailed.”
• On its Facebook page, UTLA leaders wrote that “we have challenging times ahead. But, we have been through hard times before, and we have nurtured seeds of crucial social movements during difficult times – the seeds for the civil rights movement, the movement for language rights, environmental justice movements, movements for LGBTQ rights, and more, were planted, nurtured, and strengthened during some of the most challenging political times in U.S. history. We will continue that history, no matter what lies ahead.”
*This article has been updated to add that students at Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools marched out of class.