There's no denying the 2016 presidential election was incredibly nasty — on BOTH sides of the aisle.
Throughout the race for the White House, the cutthroat nature of politics even trickled down to the classrooms, or so researchers at the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) claim.
SPLC dubbed the recent phenomenon the “Trump Effect”:
“The campaign is producing an alarming level of fear and anxiety among children of color and inflaming racial and ethnic tensions in the classroom. Many students worry about being deported.”
The study also found an uptick in bullying, verbal harassment, racial slurs, derogatory language, and “disturbing incidents” involving Nazi symbols and Confederate flags.
Once the media got hold of the research, they went wild.
Here are just a few samples of headlines splashed across articles all over the internet:
But here's what the media missed: the researchers of the study themselves admitted the results from the 10,000 people who responded were far from “scientific.”
Though they acknowledged that the information came from “the largest collection of educator responses that has been collected” and warned that “the tremendous number of responses as well as the overwhelming confirmation of what has been anecdotally reported in the media cannot be ignored or dismissed,” they also qualified the findings in the following way: [emphasis added]
“The results of this survey are not scientific. The respondents were not selected in a manner to ensure a representative sample; those who responded may have been more likely to perceive problems than those who did not.”
What's more, the survey was published in an informal newsletter by left-leaning organization, Teaching Tolerance, which was also founded by SPLC.
The bottom line here is that the results were skewed from the get-go, as Daily Caller reporter Blake Neff pointed out:
“There are more than three million teachers in the United States. Despite SPLC’s rhetoric about the 'tremendous response' to their survey, the 10,000 responses they received represents less than one-third of one percent of all teachers.”
It's interesting that many media outlets didn't make mention of the “minority” of teachers who reported “very little election impact” at their schools.
SPLC further separated these unique cases into two categories:
- Schools that are “overwhelmingly white.”
- Schools that worked hard to establish “inclusive welcoming communities, have response programs in place, and nurtured qualities of empathy and compassion among students.”
Jonathon Cohen, co-founder and president of the National School Climate Center, told NPR he's not pleased with use of the word “bullying” in the first place.
Cohen works to improve the educational climate and relationships between students and teachers. He notes some problems with anti-bullying programs, as reported by NPR:
“More often than not,” he says, “a student who comes to school and picks fights is struggling with severe adversity at home and may be in need of intervention and support as much as his or her victims.” Cohen says this could be an issue with how some anti-bullying laws are written, if the in-school behavior of struggling students becomes criminalized.
According to the most recent study by the National Center for Educational Statistics, nearly one out of every four students reports being bullied during the school year.