Following a tumultuous election season and outcome of the presidential election that has left many feeling insecure, education leaders are working to reassure students that California public schools are safe places.
“I know that the outcome of the recent presidential election has caused deep concern among many students and their families,” State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said. “The nation maintains a strong tradition for the peaceful transition of power. And I want to let all of California’s 6.2 million public school students know that keeping them safe from discrimination and bullying at our great state’s 11,000 public schools is a top priority.”
Torlakson went on to say that in California, “Diversity is strength. Our students come from all kinds of backgrounds, cultures, languages, and religions, and they all come together to learn on their way to success in 21st century careers and college. California already has, and will always maintain, strong legal and state Constitutional protections against any and all kinds of discrimination, regardless of a student’s race, ethnicity, faith, sexual orientation, or gender identity.
“And I want to tell young women and girls that they will always be safe, be respected, and be protected at school. As the proud father of two daughters, I know that girls can achieve anything, succeed at anything they choose, and earn the respect that they deserve every day at school, in the workplace, and in our communities. California moves forward, not back.”
At the San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE), Don Buchheit, Interim Assistant Superintendent of Student Services and Programs, delivered a message to all districts reminding educators of their mission to help to create safe and engaging space for students to learn, to feel, to listen, and to act, as their students are coping with uncertainty, fear, and perhaps the negative rhetoric that characterized the campaign season.
“We know that this election, like others, will have a tremendous impact, but we don't know, and can't know yet, what that impact will be,” Buchheit said. “Wherever you stand on the political spectrum, this has been a divisive election season that exposed deep political and social tensions in the United States. Yet we also know that in a democracy like ours, we turn our attention after elections immediately to sharing the work of nurturing a peaceful transition of power.”
Empowering young people to think about difficult issues, to make connections between others and themselves, to build a compassionate and ethical society, and to uphold democracy continues to be important work for school leaders, Buchheit said.
“We will find strength in moving forward together,” he said. “We hope to help each other find ways to live up to the best of our mission: to face history and face ourselves with empathy and thoughtful reflection.”
Educators in SDCOE’s Student Support Services department and the greater Student Services and Programs division are available to help and answer questions as teachers and campus leaders respond to post-election concerns with your students.