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Guest Column: District 205: Exposing the bullies among us

May 30, 2012

By Jane Hayes

Bullies! The very word strikes a chord of fear in young and old, especially if you have been bullied in the past.

As teachers, we are told to recognize signs of bullying in our schools so we can prevent this dangerous form of abuse. As adults, we think maturity makes us more invincible from this practice of terrorism, but often memories are fresh because of intense emotional scars.

Thankfully, the media have called attention to cyber-bullying, excessive rites of initiation, sports baiting and bashing, and abuses done to children, women and those who risk being different.

Both my son and daughter left their college fraternity and sorority because of their personal stance against hazing.

Finally, public consciousness is being raised to recognize the ultimate cost of this unacceptable and demeaning practice. Now, there are even some legal repercussions for bullies, punishing them for their dangerous acts against humanity.

However, what if the bully is your boss and you need your job? What recourse do you have for righting the wrongs done in the workplace? What if the legal department in your school district amplifies their bullying tactic by exiling you from your classroom, school building and school events? What recourse do staff members, who have been disgraced by this inhumane practice, have to be reinstated and to clear their names and reputations?

Putting a professional on administrative leave without warning and being walked from your classroom to your car can be a humiliating experience that scars you forever. Being denied due process and the right to know your offenses are dangerous practices that District 205’s legal department has done way too often over the past few years.

What recourse is there for those who have been assumed guilty even before knowing the charges? Why are we so quick to presume guilt rather than innocence? Instead of an outcry from colleagues when they witness this ignominy and public disgrace, their objections are silenced by fear of knowing their careers and dignity might be next. Such an atmosphere of fear and reckoning must be exposed so public attention recognizes bullying tactics in the workforce.

Since when has a whistleblower been denied his right to challenge his accusers and tell his/her side? When do we take charge and demand an evaluation of such repressive litigious counsel?

Of course, we realize such tactics are not just rampant in our district. Think back to the political upheaval for state senatorial candidates whose petitions were challenged. Think currently of the bullying tactics used in political campaign ads and against protesters. Think about the decay of our future society because of irresponsible and unethical practices of the powerful 1 percent over the silent or meek 99 percent majority. It is our responsibility, as citizens, to recognize and refute abuses, even at the cost of our jobs. Our good names and dignity matter far more.

Time to fight back! Address the bullies in our midst, regardless of their subversive power, intimidating tactics and might. Might does not make right! Legal tactics do not absolve the powerful from ethical and humane treatment. Remember the words of Edmund Burke, Irish statesman, “The greater the power, the more dangerous the abuse.”

Jane Hayes is a Roosevelt Alternative High School teacher and a member of Watchdogs for Ethics in Education.

From the May 30-June 5, 2012, issue

3 Comments

  1. Jane Hayes

    May 31, 2012 at 9:04 am

    I too am tired of the insanity in this district, and that’s precisely why I expose it to the general public. You see, I am a whistle blower who has lost her job in district 205. My insight and inside knowledge of indiviual situations must prevail. There are plenty of positives and I witnessed that personally at the Roosevelt Graduation on Tuesday for students who have been displaced and found that they could attain their goals with the caring staff at Roosevelt. Staff members from Conklin, Eisenhower, Guilford, West, Auburn, and Roosevelt are truly my heroes, as are my students. As a lifelong educator and student myself, I want the finest education that Rockford has to offer for our students. Unfortunately, too many people who are NOT educators are making short-sighted decisions. For instance, academies proposed by Alignment Rockford are nothing new to this district. They have come and gone so often over the years without much fanfare. Do we really need business moguls telling us how to run the schools where we work? We are not talking about a commercial enterprise of supply and demand, but an educational one that must meet the needs of our diverse community. Oh, as far as the most courageous and insightful education committee member being ousted from the education committee where she requested having a more pivotal influence, I am in total agreement. Perhaps Laura Powers and her courageous and informed spirit of investigation and intellect will be fodder for my next editorial. She is truly amazing, and unfortunately, a threat to backroom politics existent on the board and administration!

  2. John

    June 1, 2012 at 11:06 am

    My only comment concerns your statement that your son and daughter left their fraternity/sorority because of their “personal stance on hazing”.

    One day both your son and daughter will realize that they accomplished nothing, and in the process robbed themselves of the fun and lifetime friendships that come from the College Greek System.

    I was not Greek in College. I was the outsider who also had a point to make by refusing a fraternity. Like others I know, I was the GDI. I realize now that the only thing I accomplished was to cheat myself.

    My little “protest”, like the “point” your children made, has already been forgotten by the Greeks.

  3. Joe stein

    June 2, 2012 at 11:07 am

    That fact that there is such a big student population at Roosevelt should be a strong indicator that our teachers are overpaid failures. We need to get rid of the union, and hold teachers accountable for more than just their own salaries so our kids have a chance. Jane you are selfish. Prime example of what is wrong with our education system in this city.

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