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

Daily News Article - November 18, 2016


1. The first paragraph of a news article should answer the questions who, what, where and when. List the who, what, where and when of this news item. (NOTE: The remainder of a news article provides details on the why and/or how.)

2. What statement did San Francisco teacher Fakrah Shah make about Donald Trump and the Americans who voted for him in her “Lesson Plan on the November 2016 Election” promoted by the teachers’ union to its members?

3. What suggestions does Ms. Shah give to teachers using her lesson plan?

4. How did school district spokeswoman Gentle Blythe respond to Fakrah Shah’s lesson plan?

5. What did teachers’ union president Lita Blanc say about Ms. Shah’s lesson plan?

6. KCBS San Francisco ran a follow-up article that included the following:

Harmeet Dhillon, a Sihk who spoke at the Republican National Convention opposed the lesson plan, saying, “It’s boiling down the election in which 60 million people voted for this man to become president into two words: racism and sexism,” said Dhillon. “That’s very misleading. It’s just like propaganda….”

Dhillon was quick to question whether or not some students might take offense or be hurt by the lesson plan.

“Some of these students probably have parents who voted for Donald Trump,” said Dhillon. “How are those students going to feel when teachers are shoving a message down their throats that they are evil and bad and racist and sexist?”

Shah countered that anyone who supported Trump would be welcome in her class to defend their position. “They absolutely will be given safe space,” said Shah. “You know, they will be asked to explain how he is not racist.”

Shah was enthusiastic about the idea of other teachers using the plan. “Absolutely. I want it to be a call to all teachers,” said Shah. “We should all take offense and we should create spaces where students can have their voices heard.”

a) Do you agree with Harmeet Dhillon - that students whose parents voted for Trump could be hurt by the lesson plan? Explain your answer.

b) Shah countered that anyone who supported Trump would be welcome in her class to defend their position. “They absolutely will be given safe space,” said Shah. “You know, they will be asked to explain how he is not racist.” Will students who are required in class to “explain how [Trump] is not racist” feel they are being “given safe space”? Explain your answer.

c) In California, 5,476,131 voters cast their ballot for Hillary Clinton; 2,963,999 voted for Donald Trump. In San Fransisco county, Hillary Clinton received 85.3% of the vote; Donald Trump 9.7%.
Why would this lesson cause students who supported President-elect Trump to feel afraid to express their First Amendment right to freedom of speech?

d) The teachers’ union, United Educators of San Francisco, was offering the lesson plan on its website as an optional resource, saying that teachers are charged with supporting a student’s social and emotional well-being.
How does this lesson plan calling those who voted for Trump racist and sexist affect the social and emotional well-being of students whose parents voted for Trump?

7. The San Francisco school district sent KTVU a statement saying "Understandably our teachers are helping students process current events. Our schools serve diverse student populations and when teachers develop lessons to discuss current events, they are encouraged to include multiple perspectives and refer to issues/beliefs/values/behavior, not people or political parties."
a) Does a lesson plan that calls anyone who voted for Trump racist and sexist meet these guidelines? Explain your answer.
b) How would this lesson stifle free speech?


1) Ms. Shah concludes her “Lesson Plan on the November 2016 Election” with the following:

Number 6: Finally, the vexing question: How to change the minds of so many in America who are so racist, sexist, etc etc., I think the following resources can help shape that discussion. If you are not interested in the minds of others, especially in middle America, you can focus on the upliftment of ourselves and our own community here at MHS. Come up with a plan. (A simple 5 point plan).

Read the excerpt from a US News commentary posted under “Resources” below. Do you agree with the writers’ assertions? Explain your answer.

2) One reader responded:

“Teachers have an opportunity to encourage students who are concerned or worried about President-elect Trump to conduct a lesson on civics and the rule of law. They can also encourage students who oppose the current immigration laws Trump wants to enforce to work to change those laws. Also to discuss how citizens should react in a democratic society when they do not like existing laws, and why citizens need to respect election results even if they do not like the candidate. Bring up the example of the close to 50% who did not vote for Barack Obama in 2008 or 2012: they did not stage walkouts, protests and riots. They peacefully went about their business after the elections. That is the way a representative democracy works."

Do you agree with this assertion? Explain your answer.