School Officials See Surge in Brazen Racism by Students

While difficult to quantify as a trend, many educators note a spike in overtly racist actions by students, fueled by a polarizing presidential administration, divided public and a “meme culture.”

Maryland students using their shirts to spell a racial slur used against black people at a rally. Pennsylvania students posing with swastika-carved pumpkins. A Montana student photographed with a gun accompanied with a racial epithet. Racial incidents are appearing to pop up at an alarming rate in the nation’s public schools, reports the Associated Press. There were roughly 80 incidents in October alone, by one expert’s count. Many educators note a spike anecdotally, and social media can give such incidents wider and faster exposure. But it’s far trickier to assess whether there’s an increase numerically, with no organization or agency consistently tracking the issue over time.

School officials acknowledge the incidents are more visible and brazen, fueled by a polarizing presidential administration, divided public and “meme culture.” A study released last month by UCLA showed a surge in teachers reporting student anxiety, from roughly 7 percent in past years to 51 percent this year. It also showed nearly 28 percent of teachers reporting a spike in students making derogatory remarks about other groups during class discussions. Teaching Tolerance, an anti-hate program, used to get requests from schools once a month for help. But since the election it’s been daily, according to Maureen Costello of the Southern Poverty Law Center.