Teachers all over the country are struggling to teach their students about the presidential election. The candidates use heated rhetoric. In some cases, comparing and contrasting candidates’ platforms and experiences can involve the use of lewd language.

Former Massachusetts secretary of education Paul Reville visited BPR to talk about how teachers navigate this campaign season.

He lamented the fact that in many cases, teachers avoid the topic all together, since using the election in class can require treading extremely carefully.

“Some just steer around it because it frankly feels like a minefield to teachers,” said Reville.

He also pointed out that school may be a child’s only neutral exposure to election coverage.

“Unless [kids are] having vigorous conversations about this at home, they’re sort of left to their own to figure out what’s going on here,” said Reville.

He went on to talk about the impact this campaign has had on students, saying that a candidate’s words can legitimize offensive language.

“A lot of kids are now feeling they have license, because, after all, a presidential campaign is basing itself on these kinds of statements, so why can’t they?” said Reville.

He also said the intensity of this election season could negatively affect a classroom dynamic.

“[What’s] worrisome is this kind of license that’s been given to say outrageous racially or ethnically insensitive things... in ways that are intimidating and frightening to students,” he said.

The largest teacher’s union in the U.S. launched an advertising campaign earlier this month accusing Donald Trump of causing a spike in bullying at schools.

To hear Paul Reville’s interview on BPR in its entirety, listen to the audio link above.