School Bullies – And They are Not Students

I read a distressing column in The Dallas Morning News the other day about reports of abuse at an elementary school in the eastern part of the city. Apparently the incidents of abuse were frequent enough that the Dallas Independent School District (DISD) prepared a 269 page report that was supposed to shed some light on what really happened.

According to columnist, Jacquielynn Floyd, the report was “a droll exercise in obfuscation, misdirection, and delay.” The main body of the document, which totals 75 pages, had 61 pages either partially or totally blacked out.

The mess all started with claims that students at the elementary school were bullied and humiliated by the teachers. Apparently most of the kids who suffered the bullying were Hispanic students, and there were 22 official allegations, of which half were verified by the investigation. Some of the humiliating incidents included being forced to eat without their hands, being told their parents smelled like dirty socks, and there were allegedly threats to have parents deported.

According to the column in the newspaper, the DISD investigation of wrongdoing by teaching staff focused on an outing the teachers took instead of attending a training session on abuse in the classroom. I agree with Jacquielynn who asked why teachers would have to attend a training session to know it is wrong to humiliate and abuse the students.

On the other hand, there are some teacher who obviously need that kind of reminder. This brings to mind an incident that happened to my oldest son when he was in third grade. He had long hair, and it was always falling across his face. The teacher did not like that, so she called him up in front of the class, took a barrette and pinned his hair back in a “girlie” do.

That was wrong on so many levels, and I probably don’t even need to detail them here. People of good conscience know.

I went to the school to talk to the principal, countering his initial defense that the teacher was only exercising her right to create a proper atmosphere for learning. My son was getting excellent grades in his classes, so obviously his long hair was not inhibiting his ability to learn.

Luckily my son did not have another teacher like this, but I know his feelings about school, teachers and learning was skewed by this incident. He never went back with the same enthusiasm or did as well academically after that.

Just think of how much worse the long-term effects will be for those students at that East Dallas school who suffered much more traumatic and sustained emotional abuse.

That shouldn’t happen. Not to any student at any school. And shame on the teachers, principals, and administrators who cover it up. That casts such a negative spotlight on a profession filled with wonderful people who are dedicated educators; the kind of people who would never humiliate a child like that.

On a lighter note, I saw a great editorial cartoon by Jeff Koterba who is on staff at the Omaha World-Herald. The cartoon was picked up by The Dallas Morning News and features a couple seated at a table in an Internet cafe, sipping coffee. She is reading on an e-reading device, and he has his laptop open to a site about the payroll tax cut debate. He is wearing a button that reads, “I tweeted today.” She says, You do realize that is not this same as voting, right?”

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