By Dr. Larry Feinsod

No matter how you voted on November 8, you have to agree that the campaign leading up to the 2016 Presidential Election was unlike any we have seen in our lifetimes.

While the transition between the election and inauguration normally produces calmer seas, the week following this year’s election has been anything but placid.

I’ve heard from many people with concerns about the lack of civil discourse and its impact on schoolchildren. Some, taking a positive slant, believe that we have an opportunity for a teachable moment, setting a positive tone for our students.

In response, I’ve asked our staff to identify resources on teaching children about the election and the role that parents and teachers play in the learning process. There is no absence of information.  From these resources, I’ve drawn several critical points, which can guide educators and parents:

  • America’s greatness stems from many factors, including our right to disagree with each other and with our government.
  • All citizens can express their views to state and local officials, including their Congressional representatives, senators, and the president.
  • We are free to work for the causes in which we believe. But we should treat people with respect even when we disagree with their beliefs.
  • Teachers and parents must make children feel safe. Kids take cues from adults, so it’s important that we not portray election results—whether they involve the presidency, Congress, or municipal government—as the end of the world.
  • Teaching our children about government, including the electoral process, is critical. The presidency is an important office that deserves respect. At the same time, the president is not the sole decision-maker: The U.S. government is a system of checks and balances.
  • Free speech is a democratic value; bigotry and intolerance are not. Students need to understand the difference.

Below are just some of the online resources available to educators and parents.

Please let us know of others that you find valuable.

As Thanksgiving approaches, let’s focus on those very positive elements of our nation and culture that we all share. There are many.

Enjoy the holiday!

These are my Reflections. I look forward to hearing yours. Contact me at feinsodreflections@njsba.org. Follow me on Twitter: @DrLarryFeinsod

NOVEMBER 17, 2016