Friday Reading List: Schools React to the Election, Policymakers Scramble, and, As Always, Whiteness

Tara Garciá Mathewson is in The Hechinger Report, looking at how schools and children are reacting to the election:

This “doom and gloom” mentality was pervasive among students in communities that have borne the brunt of President-elect Donald Trump’s hateful rhetoric. Teachers at Roxbury Prep tried to reassure students that Trump won’t be able to do everything he threatened during the election, especially his promises of mass deportations at different points in the campaign, but some of the students weren’t so sure. “I guess I’m kind of nervous,” Ajanay said, adding that she was mad at adults who used their right to vote to elect Trump or vote for third-party candidates who had no chance of winning. Undecided voters baffled her, given all that was at stake for her and her friends.

This is the overwhelming sentiment I hear today, not just from immigrant families, but from non-White people writ large. The consequences of an indiscriminate deportation policy would have devastating consequences for millions of families whose children we purport to care about. This is not a game. Follow Shaun King's twitter feed to see how pervasive the personal acts of racism and xenophobia have been in the last two days:

Caitlin Dickerson and Stephanie Saul are in The New York Times looking at the same issue, but on college campuses:

A lot of Muslim students are scared,” said Abdalla Husain, 21, a linguistics major at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, who is of Palestinian ancestry. He said some Muslim students on campus were afraid to go outside. “They’re scared that Trump has empowered people who have hate and would be hostile to them.” At Wellesley College in Massachusetts, alma mater of Hillary Clinton, two male students from nearby Babson College drove through campus in a pickup truck adorned with a large Trump flag, parked outside a meeting house for black students, and spat at a black female student, according to campus black student organizations. After being ejected by the campus police, the two students bragged in a video that was widely viewed over social media.

You read that correctly: Wellesley. You know, the elite, liberal institution in the tony, Massachusetts suburbs. I had a fascinating conversation with another White dude a few weeks ago, wherein he was wondering whether our anti-racism activities are too narrow. "Shouldn't we go to a poor White community in rural America and have conversations with them, rather than have conversations among coastal progressives?" he asked, paraphrased slightly. There's anti-racism work to be conducted everywhere, but let's not pretend that our most liberal enclaves are places where we've eradicated prejudice.

Elizabeth Green of Chalkbeat has a roundup of what the election might mean for the direction of education reform policy:

Questions about which communities education reformers should serve come at a time when the group is divided on the role of race in their work ... The election of a candidate endorsed by white supremacists only accelerates this debate. For those who have chosen to talk more directly about their desire to end racism, the election strengthened their determination. “It is undeniable that deep divisions along racial, gender, and socioeconomic lines played an important role in this election cycle, and I am more convinced than ever that the work we are doing – both internally and externally – to dismantle systemic inequity is critical to our success as an organization and as a nation,” said Jonas Chartock, chief executive of Leading Educators, a reform group focused on supporting teachers in leadership roles.

There are other perspectives in Green's piece, including legitimate concerns about the quality schools in poorer White communities. If some folks want to fight for improving the quality of those schools, that's great. Policymakers and wonks alike need to remember, though, that there's a difference between interests and values. "Great schools for all kids!" is a great slogan, perhaps even a value, but it doesn't give you a great heuristic for either allocating scarce resources or establishing political priorities. Individuals who have said that their political priority is the improvement of schools for children of color should make sure that their actions in the coming months reflect that commitment, because people will be watching.

Finally, Damon Young at VSB will never underestimate the self-preservative power of Whiteness again:

In this election, White people did not vote against their self-interests. They may have voted against a self-interest — a few actually — but not their most important one: The preservation of White supremacy. Retaining the value of a Whiteness they believed to be increasingly devalued superseded everything else. Including their own livelihoods; their own physical and financial well-beings; their own Christianity; their own agency; their own money; their own educations; their own futures; their own children’s futures, their own country’s legacy; their own country’s status with the rest of the world; their own environment; their own food, air, and water; their own rights; and their own lives ... Who have shown us that nothing existing on Earth or Heaven or Hell matters more to them than being White and whichever privileges — real or fabricated; concrete or spiritual — existing as White in America provides. I admit, I underestimated them.

I'm not mad at this analysis. If you're uncomfortable with the idea that White supremacy still exists, I encourage you to provide another explanation for the overwhelming Whiteness of every major institution in America, especially given our country's historical context. Sounds like a fun weekend project!