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Discussing DC Riots with Students

Robert Austin, USBE Humanities Team Coordinator has compiled resources to help your students understand the events in DC and what will come with the transition of power.

The civic mission of public education, and the imperative for developing civic skills provide a strong case for responding to the events in Washington with thoughtful and appropriate classroom instruction.   

First, it is important to remind students that the rule of law and the institutions of this Republic endure in the face of this assault.  This short speech from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says as much.    

It is also important to pay attention to the social and emotional needs of students.   

Here are some additional resources and ideas that may be of use.   

Elementary Students
You may want to use these talking points for general discussion or facilitation of feelings or worries. If you feel it inappropriate to engage in conversations about what happened due to the age of your students, please feel free to carry on in your classroom as you see fit. If you need more direction for speaking with your students, please use the following talking points to guide your conversation:  

For younger learners, language such as:

  • The rules of our country were not followed...this is not the way a peaceful transfer of power is supposed to happen in our country after an election of a president.
  • When we have problems at school or at home, we are supposed to talk through these problems instead of using violence. Fighting and arguing does not make the problems go away, it just makes problems bigger.
  • Sometimes we disagree with each other. It’s okay to have our own thoughts and ideas. We do not have to all believe the same things. What we all need to do is be respectful of each other and sometimes agree to disagree.  
  • We all live in America and even when we do not agree with each other, we are Americans and it’s important to stick together, help each other when we can, be good neighbors, and respect our rules and laws that help all people in our country.    
Secondary Students
  • How can we have civil conversations about topics when we don’t agree?
  • Protesting peacefully is every American’s right, but the actions that took place were not peaceful and escalated beyond protesting to illegal activity. 
  • No matter what your political opinions are, we all are Americans and have many common values and beliefs.  

General Post-Election Resources for Classrooms

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