Kentucky high-school teacher Trent Ashcraft requested that his students watch Sunday night’s presidential debate so they could discuss it in class this week. Ashcraft, who teaches American history, U.S. government, and economics, told Select All “I gave them an assignment in which they could watch any of three presidential debates. They had to answer a few questions regarding issues, the moderator, and the strengths and weaknesses of candidates.” But midway through Sunday’s spectacle, Ashcraft tweeted he wanted to “formally apologize” for making his students watch Trump trail Clinton on foot for 90 straight minutes. A tweet that one of his students, Jake, found, screenshotted, and shared to the tune of 1,500 retweets and counting.
“It was mostly as a joke, but there was a lot of truth to it,” Ashcraft said of his apology. “I’ve always had students watch debates for president, senator, governor, et cetera, because they are wonderful learning experiences. There was very little educational about tonight’s display. Rather than learning about important issues, students got to see a man who wants to be president behave in a fashion that would have had him sent to the principal’s office.” In addition to sharing his teacher’s tweet, Jake, who is a senior (and describes Ashcraft as “super chill”), also tuned in to watch Trump and Clinton. “The debates themselves were exactly what I expected them to be: Awful and immature,” Jake said. “Not exactly the best candidates in history to watch.”
Ashcraft also said he is considering canceling the rest of the assignment. “If students watched this one, fine. But for those waiting for the last debate to complete the assignment, why bother? Should I subject them to sitting through that nonsense? Heck, parents may not want their teenager watching these candidates,” he explained. “I can tell you this, students at my school have shown great interest in discussing third-party candidates.”
As for his moment of virality, Ashcraft seemed to have a good sense of humor. (He maintains that Twitter account exclusively for school-related content, because apparently teachers are much cooler in 2016 than they were when I was in high school.) “I guess Jake is Twitter famous now,” he joked. “TELL ASHCRAFT I’M SORRY, LMAO,” Jake told me in a separate Twitter DM. “He’s either going to love me or hate me for this whole thing.”