A presidential election can be a teaching object for young kids, offering a civics lesson in simple terms. Students at the Austin elementary school with which I am most familiar had an election night assignment to color the states on a U.S. map red or blue as returns were reported and the electoral scorecard was tabulated.
Few, if any, of those kids were awake when the election was finally settled, but for a couple of hours some of them felt engaged in a crucial civics exercise. Others were simply bored. One thing they were not supposed to be was afraid of the results.
But across the country many children were fearful as they went to school the next day, according to reports on social media from parents and teachers. Hispanic students of immigrant parents, Muslims, gay kids, even a boy with Autism expressed fear of what a Donald Trump presidency might mean.
Educators — including at least one principal, probably more, in Austin — took extra care to try to assure students that they and their families were safe.
Trump obviously had a strong appeal to Texas and American voters, but his campaign was a horrible example for school children, mocking, defaming or ridiculing, as he did, virtually every minority group in America. Even before Election Day, there were reports of increased bullying and racist comments among school kids mimicking his style.
Trump’s victory speech was conciliatory, much more gracious than his campaign, as he began the transition, we hope, to becoming presidential.
It remains to be seen what he will do about his campaign pledges to build a wall on the southern border, round up undocumented immigrants and crack down on Muslim refugees trying to enter the country.
Texas school kids and their parents will be waiting, and many will be apprehensive. More than half of Texas’ 5.2 million public school children are Hispanic, and many are legal citizens but the children and grandchildren of undocumented immigrants. Many other Texas children are Muslims. Who can blame them if they are wondering who they will find at home at the end of the school day?
I am not sure I believe in anyone’s poll anymore. But according to exit polling conducted for the Associated Press, more than 7 in 10 Texas voters, including many who voted for Trump, believe that immigrants working in the United States illegally should be given the chance to apply for legal status and not be deported.
Trump should consider that a civics lesson and take it to heart.