UCLA IDEA: Survey Finds Schools Challenged by Political Incivility, Racial Tensions

By Joanie Harmon | Ampersand

A recent report by UCLA’s Institute for Democracy, Education, and Access (IDEA) has received national media notice for its portrait of the challenges that schools are facing in today’s politically and socially polarized environment.

Authored by UCLA professor and IDEA director John Rogers, “School and Society in the Age of Trump” delineates the results of a survey of 505 principals across the nation who discussed a high level of incivility, xenophobia, and racism that exists at their schools, and the efforts of school staff to end these behaviors.

Rogers and his team of UCLA researchers found that 89% of principals reported that incivility in the broader political environment had “considerably affected” their schools, and that 83% attribute this to “the flow of untrustworthy or disputed information” on social media. Principals also shared that the most common instances of racial hostility echoed Trump’s rhetoric on immigration and demeaned students of color.

“The report is a story of this particular time, not narrowly a story of the actions of this one president, although this president’s actions contribute to it,” said Professor Rogers to Reuters.

Many principals said that campus incivility, racism, and other social issues distract them from their traditional education responsibilities. On average, they reported spending six and a half hours a week addressing the societal challenges addressed by the survey. One in four spend the equivalent of one workday a week responding to those challenges.

“School and Society in the Age of Trump” has been featured in these media outlets:

Education Week – March 13, 2019

Reuters – March 13, 2019

Newsone – March 13, 2019

Fortune – March 13, 2019

PBS Newshour – March 15, 2019

This article originally appeared in the GSE&IS news website Ampersand.