Teachers' Controversial Issue Decisions Related to Race, Gender, and Religion During the 2008 Presidential Election

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Wayne Journell, Assistant Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/

Abstract: Using the 2008 Presidential Election as a case of curricular controversy, the author describes how six high school government teachers responded to the racial, gender, and religious diversity included on the presidential tickets of the two major political parties. Teachers had to decide whether the issue of Americans challenging the tradition of electing White males to the federal executive branch would be deemed “open” or “closed” in their classes, and if they were deemed open, whether they would disclose their own opinions on the issue. The findings suggest that Obama's race was a closed issue in each of the classes in terms of his eligibility for the presidency; however, the teachers and their students implicitly recognized the openness of the issue within both a broader societal context as well as their own political decision-making. Similarly, Palin's gender was also a closed issue in terms of her eligibility for the vice presidency, but the sexist comments made by students and teachers at each school suggest that although they may not have found Palin's candidacy controversial, her gender was an open issue with respect to how they judged female politicians in comparison to their male counterparts. Finally, Obama's religious background was a largely closed issue, although individual teachers positioned it as an open issue in their classes and used it to justify their belief that non-Christians should not be elected president. These findings offer implications for the teaching of controversial issues that are contextualized within traditionally taboo topics of race, gender, and religion.

Additional Information

Theory & Research in Social Education, 39(3), 348- 392.
Language: English
Date: 2011
controversial issues, politics, race, gender, religion

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