It’s barely been a day since the American people and political system voted Donald Trump into the White House. Since then, I’ve seen more “what does a Trump presidency mean for education” pieces. Some say he’ll be okay for accountability, some say he’ll be great for choice, some say they have no idea what to expect, some say to expect very little. Most of them say not to worry.
I’m not worried. I’m terrified. I’m terrified for the children in Royal Oak, Michigan who sat in a lunchroom while their
classmates chanted “build the wall.” I’m terrified for the ones who were chanting. I’m terrified for the students who are too fearful to
wear their hijabs. For students who are told that
they should be picking cotton. For students who have
racist threats written on their lockers. I’m terrified for the young girls who watched, first-hand, while their then-candidate, now president-elect called one of the most accomplished women in the world “nasty,” and then got the job for which she was more qualified. I’m terrified for the students who are seeing that name-calling, putting down others, spewing racist rhetoric, and being an outright bully can serve to bring you more power. My mother was once told by a teacher that I “stuck out like a sore thumb.” A race and ethnicities professor of mine once split our lecture into small groups based on our races and put me in what he named the “other” group. I’ve been reduced to my ethnicity more times than I count, reduced to my gender more times than I can count and let me tell you: it has an effect. We are about to have a president who reduces people to their race, to their gender, to their sexuality. If we think that this isn’t going to impact our students and their educational experiences, we’re still as blind as we were before he won.
Valentina Payne joined Bellwether Education Partners in 2021 as chief of staff to Andy Rotherham on the External Relations team. Prior to Bellwether, she spent seven years at brightbeam, where she most recently served as its chief growth officer, overseeing operations, finance, fundraising, and strategic growth of the organization.