Trump era serves up 'teachable moments' for character ed

ByDebbie Cafazzo and Erik Robelen
Leyla Bravo-Willey at KIPP Infinity

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Days after Donald Trump won the White House, the Brookings Institution published an essay suggesting the 2016 presidential election should serve as a “Sputnik moment” for character education.

The campaign’s “extraordinary vitriol and divisiveness” offers a strong argument for a “renewed emphasis on schools’ role in developing children as caring, empathetic citizens,” wrote Brookings scholar Jon Valant.

Some advocates for character education see plenty of teachable moments through the lens of national politics — from President Trump’s language on Twitter, to the May episode when a Montana candidate for the U.S. Congress, Greg Gianforte, assaulted a journalist.

During a recent Education Writers Association panel, titled “Educating for Character and Citizenship,” several educators and experts shared their vision for character education, and what it looks like in action. The panel was part of EWA’s annual conference in Washington, D.C., which ran from May 31 to June 2.