COLUMBUS, Ga. – One Columbus teacher is urging parents to take a direct approach to explain a most unique election cycle and the subjects it covers. St. Anne-Pacelli Catholic School social studies teacher Hart Mizell says he tries to play moderator when it comes to heated classroom clashes.
“The role is never to try and interject your own partisan politics into any type of discussion you have with the kids,” Mizell said.
Mizell understands that he and others in his shoes must tread carefully when talking about controversy in the classroom. He also knows that parents, Pacelli’s strong Catholic and military background have a major impact on each student’s political ideology.
Freshman Adelyn Chaney tells News 3 she hears about politics constantly between home and school. Though she can’t fully support either candidate, she gives the edge to Democrat Hillary Clinton.
“I would rather choose Hillary Clinton than Donald Trump,” Chaney said. “Mostly when I watched this [last] debate, instead of focusing on what’s happening now, both of them talk[ed] about the past.”
Senior Jake Rehak commends his teacher for staying balanced and not picking sides when it comes to talking about the presidential campaign. Rehak says he has a lot of friends who will be voting for Republican Donald Trump.
“I feel that Trump could kind of change some stuff up and make a difference,” Rehak said.
Mizell urges dialogue in school, regardless of partisan-leaning thinking, so that each student understands different perspectives. He compares his role to playing devil’s advocate.
“Moderate their discussion, bring it back towards the middle, bring up points for both sides and allow them to have discussions on their own,” Mizell explained.
As for addressing more sensitive subjects such as Trump’s leaked recording or Clinton’s past, Mizell suggests that parents not sugarcoat their talks with their children.
“Go right at them with it,” Mizell said. “If you want them to grow or become more educated, I don’t think shielding them from topics going on in the election is the way to do it. I don’t think you can have real discussion about these issues and formulate your own opinions if there’s any kind of curtailing anything the candidates are saying.”
Mizell says he wants educated voters, no matter who they want to support.
“I want educated voters. I don’t care what decision you make.”