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Guest Column: Rockford schools: Bullying should not be allowed at any level

November 30, 2011

By Barbara Oehlke and Watchdogs for Ethics in Education

Bullying is bad, right? That’s what we tell students in the classroom and on our teams. We realize the intensity of impassioned feelings during a game or during a dispute, but nothing is gained. Indeed, we are all diminished when a bully takes over on a playing field, court, classroom or school. Yes, we all know how bullies damage and diminish fragile feelings.

So, let’s start practicing what we preach! Watchdogs for Ethics in Education (WEE) has heard many incidents about bullying principals on the elementary level who bully staff members with unrealistic restrictions on lesson plans and with student services, and intimidation on classroom evaluations and visits. Administration has been told of the bullying tactics numerous times. Instead of acting on reports, an exodus of staff members leaves a building that has a poor leader. Where does that leave the students we serve who do not have the same options?

Have we learned nothing from enduring the bully at the helm of the district during 2009-2011? Why allow bullying principals to continue without repercussions? The powers that be need to listen to the chronic complaints of staff and concerned citizens. Otherwise, what lesson is that to model for our students impacted by our values and ethics?

Teachers, speak up, now that you have found your voices! Don’t allow this management style to continue, even though the administration and union seem unresponsive. The teachers’ union and administration have been tongue-tied or tied to union constraints. Would you allow bullying to go on in your classroom? If yes, then you deserve to work under a tyrant. If not, do something pro-active to resist being mistreated when you know best practices that work for children. Resist the restrictive bullies who repress you and report it, just as you would advise a bullied student to do the same. Bullies are power-hungry and menacing individuals; do not allow their power scourges to impact our schools and children!

From the Nov. 30-Dec. 6, 2011, issue


  1. Keith McArdle

    November 30, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    Look to see who is supervising the elementary principals now. Believe it will be very clear that recent changes have not all been for the better!

  2. Madison Knapp

    December 1, 2011 at 11:10 am

    Dear WEE,
    It is common knowledge that the past administration could be described as tyrannical. However, one knew exactly what to expect. This new administration tries to come off as understanding and willing to listen to suggestions. In reality they are worse than the previous administration in that they will listen AND agree with you then turn around and do exactly what they want to do without blinking an eye. This to me is much more egregious than the past administration.
    Another thought to consider in regards to this particular post. Is it possible that elementary principals are being treated this way because the new administration has ONLY high school experience? Both Assistant Superintendents think all schools should be run as mini high schools. Neither has elementary experience…very sad considering that more than 1/2 of RPS is younger than high school. I hope these two boys don’t cause irreparable damage.

  3. Daniel Robert Smyth

    December 4, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    Bullies are here to stay! Live with it and prepare yourself! Stop crying and get along! Maybe it’s time to be more agressive in what you want in your life instead of asking everyone to just let you pass! The prince of thieves once went anywhere he pleased until he came up against John Little on his way across the river! The bully said let me pass and the little guy said you let ME pass. Sometimes the bully just needs to be met with superior desire and ability in order to be overcome. Prepare yourself and stop crying that someone will not let you pass!

  4. Susan

    December 5, 2011 at 7:52 am

    From what I hear there is not much difference in the constant abuse of teachers than from the previous two years. Same disrespect and mistreatment. Unfortunately, people are still afraid of losing their jobs for no reason as has happened the last two years. What a shame.

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