Occasional Paper Series #39

No Room for Silence: The Impact of the 2016 Presidential Race on a Second-Grade Dual-Language (Spanish-English) Classroom

Sandra L. Osorio

¡Quiere sacar a todos los suramericanos! Quiere quedarse con solo los blancos,1shouted second grader Salvador2 to his classmate Victor. They were supposed to be reading Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin, but somehow the conversation had turned to the then presidential candidate for the Republican Party, Donald Trump. That was how Trump and his rhetoric entered our dual language classroom.

Far too often, the voices of students of color, their experiences, and their lives are not validated in the classroom. When Salvador and Victor’s conversation about Trump erupted, the teacher and I—the teacher researcher in the classroom—knew we had to bring this topic to the forefront. If two students were discussing it, the chances were that it was on the minds of many. As Costello (2016) explained, Trump’s words and actions during the campaign impacted classrooms throughout the United States because “the [presidential] campaign was producing an alarming level of fear and anxiety among children of color and inflaming racial and ethnic tensions in the classroom” (p. 4).

This article examines how the teacher and I implemented culturally sustaining pedagogy (CSP) in our classroom in response to Trump’s rhetoric about immigration. I focus on how the students, who were distressed by that rhetoric, discussed what Trump was saying about immigration, as well as on how we worked together to support them.

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About the Author

Sandra OsorioDr. Sandra L. Osorio is an assistant professor at Illinois State University. She teaches courses in early childhood, bilingual education, and English as a second language. She is a former bilingual educator who has worked with children from diverse racial, ethnic, and linguistic backgrounds for over 9 years. Her own personal narrative having a deficient-based identity placed upon her because of her linguistic differences has served as source of motivation to become an educator and researcher. Dr. Osorio’s research looks at how early childhood children can engage in critical discussions and how to prepare teachers to work with Latinx students.