politics in classroom ra3

Waco High School government teacher Wendy Moulds leads class Friday. Moulds often uses political cartoons or Internet memes for writing prompts in class discussions.

Staff photo— Rod Aydelotte

Want to rant about how hard you have it? Want to talk about the challenges of your particular job? Consider the steep challenges that, in many ways, we the people, Republican and Democrat alike, have foisted upon schoolteachers trying to properly teach our students about elections, civics and political discourse these days.

We have a lot more to worry about than whether the teaching of evolution will stunt ripening minds for Christ.

As Trib education reporter Shelly Conlon notes in a well-timed article, local teachers are finding it harder and harder to have proper political discussions with their charges when the campaigns of Republican and Democratic presidential nominees teeter amid allegations that involve sexual assault, profanity, sexting, adultery and outright misogyny.

So don’t blame the teachers. Our society gave rise to these candidates, placing them on pedestals through our votes and our careless assumptions.

If teachers serve one useful purpose in the teaching of politics and civics today, it may be to impress tomorrow’s generation not to immediately trust what they see “reported” on social media unless that report comes from a legitimate news source, such as a major TV network or a reputable, long-established newspaper. Of course, it sure doesn’t help when these students get home and find Mom and Dad falling for all the fantasy on social media.

Sadly, the political reality is lurid enough without social-media embellishment. How do you teach American politics and civics when, say, the Republican presidential nominee is heard on tape (recorded shortly after he married his third wife), talking boastfully about forcing himself on women and how women readily succumb to his sexual desires because of his immense star power?

How do you teach politics when the Democratic nominee is caught up in a scandal over her stupidly ignoring national security protocols regarding classified emails — all exacerbated when the estranged husband of her aide de camp falls under investigation for allegedly sexting with a teenage girl and may have some of these classified emails on his computer server.

Students with any degree of critical thinking must wonder at some point: “So how come folks like my old man picked these two individuals as worthy of overseeing our nation?”

Teachers might want to consider including in their lesson the hilarious TV ad of a Republican county commissioner candidate in Travis County whose wife explains how voters need to elect her policy-obsessed, data-driven husband to keep him out of the house and out of her hair. Students and teachers could use the laugh. Interestingly, both the candidate and his wife have declined to say how they’re voting for president. Likely they’re too embarrassed. And children might be listening.