San Francisco teachers’ union lesson plan calls Trump racist, sexist

Daily News Article   —   Posted on November 18, 2016

(Associated Press at CBS News) SAN FRANCISCO — The union representing San Francisco’s public school teachers has offered a classroom lesson plan that calls President-elect Donald Trump a racist and sexist man who became president “by pandering to a huge racist and sexist base.”

The lesson plan from Mission High School teacher Fakrah Shah is not one adopted by the San Francisco Unified School District, but has been published in the San Francisco teachers’ union newsletter and on the National Education Association (NEA) website, CBS San Francisco reports. The plan was distributed via an email newsletter to its more than 6,000 members. The school district has more than 57,000 students.

Shah wrote, “Let us please not sidestep the fact that a racist and sexist man has become the president of our country by pandering to a huge racist and sexist base.”

The teacher also offers suggestions to other teachers on how to engage students, telling them they didn’t lose and they should fight for justice and equality.

“In the very same way, I would criticize Clinton. In the very same way, I would criticize Obama. The record number of deportations. Hillary Clinton, she has been called a war hawk,” Shah told CBS San Francisco.

“We show the information, we just don’t label people. With Trump, yes, we have gone very straight and very direct to this idea that he is racist. That he is sexist. There is information released with his exact words, saying how to treat women,” Shah went on to say.

It is unclear how many teachers have used the plan outlined by a Mission High School teacher, said union spokesman Matthew Hardy and school district spokeswoman Gentle Blythe on Wednesday.

Blythe said the plan is an option and not part of the official curriculum. “Educators are entrusted to create lessons that reflect the California standards, support students’ social and emotional well-being and foster inclusive and safe school communities,” she wrote in an email, adding that teachers are encouraged to include various perspectives and not refer to people or political parties.

[The teacher’s union says Shah’s lesson plan is not a required resource but an optional one for educators. Lita Blanc, president of the teacher’s union United Educators of San Francisco said, “Fakrah Shah was well within her rights as an educator and we strand with her,” said Blanc.]

Harmeet Dhillon, an RNC committeewoman from California, called the lesson plan and introductory statement put out by the teachers’ union “inappropriate propaganda that unfairly demonizes not only the campaign that Donald Trump won but also all of the people who voted for him.”

The Nov. 9 plan encourages teachers to talk to students about how they feel about the election results. The plan encourages teachers to offer students hope and to tell them that they can keep fighting.

San Francisco is diverse, with many students whose families are in the country illegally and who are worried by Mr. Trump’s calls for deportation. She warned teachers that some students may use inappropriate words to express their fear and anger.

“I know that they might curse and swear, but you would too if you have suffered under the constructs of white supremacy or experienced sexism, or any isms or lack of privilege,” she wrote.

More than 2,000 San Francisco students walked out of class last week to protest the new president. On Monday, Mayor Ed Lee declared that San Francisco would continue to provide sanctuary for all [illegal] immigrants, religious minorities and gays and lesbians.

Reprinted here for educational purposes only from an Associated Press story. May not be reproduced on other websites without permission from CBSNews. Visit the website at cbsnews .com.


The following is excerpted from a U.S. News & World Report commentary:
"Stop Teaching Anti-Trump Bias"
by Frederick M. Hess and Chester Finn, Jr., Nov. 15, 2016:

We're no fans of the president-elect...[but] we are astonished that so many educators, schools and colleges chose to treat his election as reason to alarm their students and to suggest that only a Democratic victory would have aligned with the nation's values.

We understand that the country is divided and that some kids share their parents' fears of potentially being deported or losing their health insurance. We've surely no objection to teachers comforting fearful children. That's a responsibility of all adults who care for them. But we don't believe that educators are supposed to make kids scared or teach that there is a right outcome and a wrong one to a presidential election. And we're puzzled to see so many educators – and even education journalists – imagine that Trump's election can only be understood through the prism of racism and xenophobia.

  • Wednesday should have been, and doubtless was, in some schools and classrooms that never made it onto TV, a rare opportunity to teach civics and history.
  • To explain how the Electoral College works and why it exists; to point out how many times in America's past, starting in 1800, an election upset has led to change and has been accompanied by the peaceful transfer of power from one party to another.

Our schools [should do a better] job of imparting U.S. history and civics to their pupils that it's important to exploit every "teachable moment," and this was a vivid one. We fear that it's been largely wasted or used instead for propagandizing.

Education leaders insist that their response to the election outcome is not ideological; that it's simply a response to Trump's unique grotesquery. That would be easier to believe if K-12 and higher education leaders weren't so open to stripping the statues and names of revered presidents like Wilson, Jefferson and Washington from school and college buildings. If prominent Republicans weren't routinely disinvited from universities. If decent men like Mitt Romney and George W. Bush had not been routinely depicted by educators as racists, crypto-fascists and war criminals. If so many schools hadn't celebrated Obama's two elections with rallies, songs of homage and ebullient videos.

Education leaders explain that their histrionics were made necessary by Trump's divisive, mean-spirited campaign; that no response to a Clinton victory would have been necessary because Hillary Clinton – like President Obama before her – offered a warm-hearted and inclusive future. Cheery acceptance of a Clinton win, they suggest, would not have reflected bias, simply the fact that students (and others) would have had nothing to worry about.

Well. While progressives may not believe it, here are some of the students who might have had cause to fear a Clinton victory:

  • Evangelicals and Catholics whose religious schools and colleges are threatened by federal authorities for non-compliance with directives related to gender and sexual identity.
  • College students muzzled by progressive speech codes or sanctioned by "bias response teams" for posting Trump signs or celebrating America as a "melting pot," and well aware that a Clinton administration would embrace such restrictions.
  • Kids bullied or in schools made chaotic by miscreants who would have been suspended if not for directives issued by the Obama Education Department's Office of Civil Rights.
  • The children of police, who watched Clinton campaign alongside individuals who had called for acts of violence against uniformed officers.
  • Children in charter schools who understood that a Clinton win would be bad news for their school and might lead to its closure.
  • The anxieties of those young people would most certainly have been ignored had Clinton won. Indeed, imagine the Bill Maher gibes that would have followed had a single religious college canceled classes so students could mourn a Clinton victory.

We know that educational leaders think they're doing the right thing. We do hope, however, that these same leaders might do a better job of asking whether their biases are coloring their judgment and aggravating the divisions they're seeking to heal. After all, for those who supported Donald Trump because they think the nation's elites hold them in contempt and have declared war on their values, we fear that the nation's educators have done little this past week to disprove the point.