Holding the Trump Card: Addressing the 2016 Election

Snapshot: Teachers wrestle with how to teach the controversial issues and topics raised during the 2016 election. How should teachers navigate these partisan, divisive, and often nasty issues in the classroom?



Case Description: Teaching controversial issues and topics can raise complex challenges even in the best of times. Educators and administrators are finding this year's presidential election particularly daunting. We have therefore developed a new case, "Holding the Trump Card: How Should Schools Address Controversial Issues in the 2016 Presidential Election?" 

The case is designed to help teachers, school and district leaders, parents, teacher educators, and middle and high school students have nuanced conversations about how to address the election in schools. The case raises important pedagogical, ethical, democratic, legal, and political considerations, and invites readers to reflect on them both on their own and in dialogue with others. Groups may want to use the case study discussion protocol to guide their conversation.

Additional Resources:

  • We have developed this Teaching Guide, specific to the case, for leaders of professional development sessions, pre-service and in-service teacher educators, and high school teachers wishing to use the case with their own students.
  • "Teaching in the Time of Trump" is a very thoughtful essay in Social Education by Ben Justice and Jason Stanley. It takes a clear position on some of the issues raised in this case and could be used effectively as a companion resource.
  • We also encourage educators who are interested in controversial issues discussions more generally to look at Diana Hess and Paula McAvoy's terrific book and accompanying resources, The Political Classroom.
  • Mikva Challenge is also working to "#changethestory about how youth will be engaged in this fall's election," in part via an interactive digital competition for middle and high school students called The Great Electoral Race. Teams of 3-5 students "use their favorite social media platforms to complete any of 51+ electoral Challenges to earn points and win prizes. The competition will run from Labor Day through Election Day." Mikva Challenge is a wonderful organization that promotes youth civic education and empowerment.
  • Events are moving so fast-and-furious we can't keep up. But see  The Answer Sheet for a provocative letter from State and National Teachers of the year about why they are choosing to abandon non-partisan neutrality this year, and a thoughtful blog by teacher Mike Kalin about his choice.
See also: Politics, Teachers, 9-12, K-12