With the midterm elections around the corner, schools will need to prepare for the aftermath. There will be winners and losers. Many students with have a response to the results of the midterm election for which many schools will be unprepared.
Schools will need to be better prepared because some high school students are speaking out before the midterm elections. For example, nine student leaders from seven urban school districts across the country were in Baltimore to discuss what they see as the most pressing issues for young people ahead of the midterms. While voting may be out of reach for some who aren’t 18 this November, they plan to talk about the importance of civic engagement and voting, in addition to guns, mental health, the #MeToo movement, social justice, equity, immigration and more. Schools will need to be prepared for the negative responses that the media will highlight. Schools can expect anything from vandalism to student fights to even life-threatening suicides involving students.
Some students will have a desire to express their anger or jubilant feelings. Since Whites have a despondent way of communicating, schools can expect for the response from children of color to be different from school expectations. For example, Blacks students contrast White middle-class communication when they speak over others’ voices and repeat the communication until they are responded to or until they have someone’s attention. Spontaneity in conversation is an acceptable component of communication in the Black community, even though others perceive interrupting another speaker in conversation as rude. Speaker and audience are often interchangeable for Blacks which results in the listener often calling out or responding to a speaker. Black communities accept the approach that their children use by interrupting others or speaking out of turn, which is an unacceptable school practice, and teachers view this behavior as disruptive and inappropriate.
Additionally, Hispanic students use specific language and speech patterns that may inhibit a positive perception from school administrators. Puerto Ricans involved in the decision-making process may use rising intonation, qualifiers, questions, and hedges. Puerto Ricans make decisions jointly where one person speaks, and others join in and respond until the group makes a decision. Anglo Americans value one person speaking at a time to indicate respect for the individual. Due to the difference in the way that Blacks, Hispanics and Whites communicate, administrators will have to take care in the evaluation of student communication processes in relation to their response to the midterm elections.
The midterm elections provide an opportunity to teach students regarding democratic leadership. Leadership is the ability to influence and democratic leadership is the ability to influence using democratic principles. Democratic leaders develop democratic communities by ensuring:
- An open flow of ideas that informs the community
- Using critical reflection to evaluate ideas, problems, and policies
- Participation of individuals in open inquiry, collective choices, and actions that benefit the common good
- Acting with others for the common good
- Acting in the interest of the common good
- Accepting and celebrating diversity
The most critical aspect of a democratic community is the phrase “common good”. In philosophy, economics, and political science, the common good (also commonwealth, common weal or general welfare) refers to either what is shared and beneficial for all or most members of a given community, or alternatively, what is achieved by citizenship, collective action, and active participation in the realm of politics and public service. However, in a democratic community, the community must also embrace the acceptance and celebration of diversity. Therefore, schools can better prepare for the aftermath of the midterms by requiring students to make suggestions that are for the good of all students and embrace acceptance and celebrate diversity.
All the best,
Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D.
PO Box 4707 Cherry Hill, NJ 08034
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Woodstown-Pilesgrove Public Schools Superintendent of Schools
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