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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

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