By: guest blogger Jamee Smith, Kindergarten parent and member of Meridian’s Equity and Inclusion Committee
The 2016 presidential campaign has permeated our national consciousness and raised complex issues we’re left to grapple with as citizens, teachers and parents. Much as we strive to shelter our children from negativity they are nevertheless hearing about the election’s many controversies through media and peers, often out of context. Discussing racism, ableism, religious intolerance, sexism and even sexual assault with kids is challenging but it’s a landscape we must navigate.
At Meridian, teachers are encouraged to use the school’s Teaching Election 2016 framework to address political issues as they arise in the classroom through the lens of our Meridian CARES values. These guidelines include offering a safe, open environment to facilitate age-appropriate, reasoned, respectful conversations following ground rules created together with students for critiquing ideas, not people. It also includes learning about democracy, how elections work and the importance of voting. Within the framework, students are supported in their efforts toward civic responsibility and challenged to become informed from multiple sources about the issues that most concern them. Additionally, teachers will continue offering counter-bias to the equity and inclusion issues brought to light during this campaign after the election has ended.
Meridian encourages our parent community to reinforce these discussions at home by creating opportunities for children to express their thoughts and feelings. Sharing your own concerns is also helpful as is explaining your political beliefs and why you espouse them. Most importantly, allowing your children to see you participating in the voting process, and any other exercise of civic-mindedness like charity participation, social justice work, or protests, will help them feel empowered to effect positive change in their community and country. Working together, we hope to allay our children’s anxieties about the current political climate while inspiring them to become aware and well-informed citizens.