Friday, October 21, 2011
The Future is Here
5:59 pm edt
I think I am almost done with even the vestiges of
the pain of workplace bullying. I think I am almost there. This may take me to the end. We shall see.
This then is the piece about which my admired friend cautioned me.
a nearly impossible thing to pin down. What is that perfect melding of personal conviction and admiration
for another and his work that comes together and blasts people out of their comfort zones and into the wilds of truth telling?
A piece of my inspiration: a growing awareness of the duplicity of the system for which I work. Please
know, I am not putting just my school district on the hot seat. My awareness is broader and more profound
than that. My indignation at the abuses endured by workers is exemplified in hotbeds of workplace lies
and bullying across the United States. Atlanta Public Schools shoved me over the edge. “That’s
not fair,” I said to myself as I read of the firings of so many school employees there. I knew many,
surely, did not want to turn pencils over and change students’ answers on standardized tests. I knew that probably they
were just doing what they were told to do.
“That’s not right.”, I stated with conviction, as
I contemplated their looking for support from district and school leadership in doing right things....and finding none.
For you see, I too was at a red hot “do as you are told even if it is illegal” place.
I was coerced and bullied until I was sick. I stood in front of a school leader as he screamed that
I fill out forms with lies. I chose, in that moment, not to do that ugly thing.
But know this; I am not guiltless. In the two surreal years I spent
in that house of horrors--my former school--I repeatedly witnessed others’ lies. Working there was
like entering a funhouse maze of mirrors. Reflections were warped. Truths were distorted
to fit whatever district requirement was at hand. Although I did not participate, I knew others were.
I have come to understand that good people, cocooned in the lethargy of systems--corrupt
systems--have few expectations of change. Give them another initiative; give them a moment of light and
brief relief that finally something may truly be done—and find them creating another document and data to reflect change
that really hasn’t happened. Why? Because they were told to do it.
of mine have asked me with airs of “she just doesn’t know how it works yet” perplexity, how it is that I
approach my work with such naivety. How is it that I actually believe that what I am told will happen will
And so, I had come to a turning point. I had come
to a place of either going with the flow of flotsam-hopping aboard a decaying log with many, many others-or staying put on
the shores of my hope that there was someone honest and creative enough, someone of enough integrity and courage—I’d
not, in seven years in a school system, met such a person--who would forge a path I’d want to follow.
As I read what I just wrote, I think to myself--it’s too much: it’s too much of an attempt
at flowery language and not enough at communicating my defining moment--for it was at that moment that the other piece of
my inspiration came-I met such a person.
And now I contemplate whether or not to put his name to paper.
I think not. I do not want to put such responsibility on just one person. Nor
do I wish to embarrass him. I simply want you to know that first with a handshake and a comment on a button
I wore that stated, “It Takes Courage”; and then with his eagerness to hear my ideas, I was catapulted from fear,
frustration and feelings of aloneness to a hope that there are leaders who do the important things they say they are doing.
There is, I believe, a third piece to inspiration. It’s this: a decision to be inspired. I
have made such a decision. Maybe I have become the leader I was looking for all along.