Today hurts. There is no escaping that. I’ve been stumbling through, dazed and still trying to wrap my head around what happened last night.
Donald Trump is our next president.
Realistically, we could have eight years of progress bulldozed with the stroke of a pen in January when he officially takes office.
As a teacher, I’m terrified. I’ve seen what GOP control does to the state of education here in Michigan. Now the whole country gets to experience that nightmare. Chris Christie, a man who has made a name for himself bullying and intimidating educators in New Jersey, is sure to play a big role in the Trump administration. Trump himself is a proponent of school choice, an experiment that has already failed on a massive scale both here in America and abroad in Sweden.
I fear that any legitimate objections we raise will simply be ignored, because we swept this man into power with a legislative majority at his fingertips. Could our schools privatize en masse? Could Right To Work legislation become the law of the land? I shudder at the thought.
Let me step away from teaching for a moment to address a more immediate concern, civil rights. Trump said in his victory speech last night:
Now it’s time for America to bind the wounds of division – have to get together. To all Republicans and Democrats and independents across this nation, I say it is time for us to get together as one united people. It’s time. I pledge to every citizen of our land that I will be president for all Americans, and this is so important to me.
It sounds like a lovely sentiment on its face, but its not. First, for us to start healing, Trump has to acknowledge that many of these wounds have been caused or worsened by his hateful rhetoric. And it’s not about party. We know Democrats, Republicans and independents can work together – they have in the past. A far more troubling division reared its ugly head these past several months. I’m talking about Muslims, Latinos, blacks, women, the LGBTQ community…all of these groups and more have been subjected to abuse from Trump, his surrogates, and his supporters. As scared as I am right now, I can not fathom how some of my friends and students must be feeling. If Trump truly wants to heal the nation, he must reach out to all of the people his campaign demonized.
For our part, we must make sure that now more than ever, the marginalized people in our lives know that we value, love, and support them. Stress the values of respect, kindness, and decency in your classrooms. Do your best to ensure that your students don’t feel afraid or unwelcome in your room. We need to ensure that what really makes this country great – inclusion, diversity, respect – are alive and well in our classrooms and our communities.