Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Open letter to school district superintendents
6:01 am edt
Is it possible, Mr. and Ms. Superintendents, that you simply are not aware of the abusive, arbitrary, capricious--sinful,
really--bullying administration going on in many of your schools?
I awoke this morning with two more emails from
two more hurt, shaken, terrorized teachers; teachers targeted by bullying principals. These two emails happen to come
from Georgia and Michigan. One of the teachers doesn't have a job now and the other is freaked out about returning. That
makes twenty emails from around the nation. I don't know much about statistics really, but I do know that each of those twenty
emails represents maybe 100 more emails from 100 more people. That would be about 2,000 hurt, shaken and terrorized people.
These are people who found me because, on line in a National Education Association discussion about bullying administrators,
I simply invited them to contact me.
Mr. and Ms. Superintendents, I've danced around, beside, close up, and far
away from the elephant--your bullying principals--in our districts' school houses. I am tired of pretending the elephant doesn't
exist. It does. Boy, oh boy, does it exist. It sits there as teachers and counselors two step around it. Every now and again
there will be an innocent--maybe new to the schoolhouses--counselor or teacher who stops and says, "Hey everybody, there
is a fat, stinky elephant right here in the middle of everything. Let's tie a rope around it's neck and lead it back to the
The other dancing teachers and counselors will stop for a moment; not to contemplate the guileless request,
but to shush the counselor or the teacher-warn him or her to just keep dancing. "Squeeze your dancing body close, close,
close to the wall like us, but don't lose your rhythm," they might say. "Slide right around that lethargic unpleasant
beast! We are warning you! Others have tried. They pushed and prodded the elephant until it, itself, arose and plodded off
to the zoo. But only temporarily. For it went to the zoo and to the zookeeper only to whine and complain about the
ill treatment its caretakers at its school were giving it. It wanted more than buckets of water and hay, for goodness sakes!
It wanted stories read to it! It wanted hot water bottles for its cold feet, fans on hot days. It wanted fine garments sewn
for it when the newspapers came 'round for a story. It's not easy to sew suits for elephants and teach children at the same
time you know....but we get it done. Shush! Be quiet! Keep dancing."
himself does not want to be too close to the stinking beast for too long, so he takes it back to the school house. The zoo
keeper gets mad; not at the elephant, but at the teachers and counselors who held their noses and said "Mr. and
Ms. Superintendents need to know about this stench. Surely they want better for the children."
of looking at the elephant and saying, "Elephant, the way you will really impress me; the way you will really shine,
is to stop being a demanding, spiteful, lying and cheating beast. You stink. The other animals at your schoolhouse, the gazelles
and the parrots; the hippos and the lions (there are a few in spite of your taking up so much of the space); the snakes and
the spiders too (even though they probably will never learn to do anything other than slither and weave webs, because they
are, after all, snakes and spiders) needed you to change your ways. The other animals needed you to say something like, "I'm
sorry, other animals. I apologize for polluting our space. I am remorseful that you've had to clean up my stinking messes;
that instead of paper and pencils, I provided each of you with a shovel to clean up my messes..."
zoo keeper does not say that. Instead the zoo keeper says, "WHAT?!" Lock out the gazelles and the parrots and the
hippos and most especially the lions! BRING THEM ALL TO ME! But leave the snakes and the spiders. They slither and they weave....AND
THAT'S WHAT WE WANT FOR OUR CHILDREN! You've done a good job, elephant. There is no other school in my zoo district with better
slitherers and weavers than yours. You should be a zoo keeper. I will help you become a zoo keeper like me! "
Here is the truth, Mr. and Ms. Superintendents, here it is. You have an epidemic of bullying, power hungry principals leading
your schools. You have a problem of such enormous size--the size of a herd of sleeping elephants--that unless you say to that
herd, "No more. I will listen to the voices of counselors and teachers; of gazelles, hippos, parrots and most especially
lions. I will not tolerate your bullying ways. Our children deserve to be educated in places of truth, courage and justice;
not places of fear and terror."
Unless you say something like that, the bullying herd will wake up and stampede
straight to the zoo, for that is where they feel most safe, with you--of that I am certain. You must stop keeping them safe,
dear Mr. and Ms. Superintendents. You must--and this will take courage on your part--admit they stink. Pull out the hose.
Hose them off.
Teachers and counselors across the nation are fed up with pretending the elephants you've placed
in their school houses are not fat and stinking. Teachers and counselors are beginning to prod and poke at the elephants.
Dear Mr. and Ms. Superintendents, it's time to clean up.