A Piece Full World

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Friday, December 27, 2013

"Open Letter to Mr. Bill Gates"
Written almost two years ago: Little has changed and in fact, with the attention on standardizing teacher evaluations, now is much worse.  Just a quick google search of "Bill Gates" and "teachers' evaluations" will yield many hits. Googling "Bill Gates and "administrators' evaluations" yields little of substance.

Maybe I need to re-title this piece from two years ago and call it "Open letter to Mr. Bill Gates."

Here's the piece:

Open letter to our nation's school district superintendents:

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 come from Georgia and Michigan. One teacher 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 I simply invited them to contact me.

Mr. and Ms. Superintendents, I can no longer play with words.  I've danced around, beside, close up, and far away from the "bullying principals elephant" that is in our districts' school houses. I am tired of pretending the elephant doesn't exist.  It does.  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 zoo."

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," 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 returned to the zoo 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. 

The zoo keeper brought it back.  The zoo keeper was mad.  Instead 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.  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..."  

No, the zoo keeper did not say that.  Instead the zoo keeper said, "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. Superintendent.  You must--and this will take courage on you 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.
7:47 pm est          Comments

Saturday, December 14, 2013

"Algebra is not good for world peace...."

I'm worried that I worry too much.  

I got up today with a gritty determination.  I was determined not to worry--"It's pointless," I said to myself.  After a brief second of groggy "empty-headedness," though, the worries flooded in.  The first worry "in" was precipitated by my daughter's sleeping sigh.  She'd slept with me and the "smack-smack-smack" of her lips and the air exhaled from her 14 year old lungs as she slumbered did not fill me with smiles and love.  The first penetrating worry was: "Did she finish the math homework?"  It was followed immediately by my own exasperated guilt at not having stuck with another repetition of her vocabulary words and definitions for her Language Arts test.

All this before my eyes were fully opened.

More worries:  Wine.  An inner voice saying, "Yeah, big girl, keep telling yourself it's good for you."  

Teeth.  I read an article about how to care for our aging "not-so-pearlies."  That article just in general reminded me I'm "gettin' up there."

The wine and, then, teeth worries were immediately followed by judgement:  Too fat.  Too tired.  Too judgmental. I did, at least, find judging myself to be too judgmental to be funny.

And I'm still in bed.

Getting up.  Fretting.  Followed by exasperation.  Mornings--and they get earlier and earlier--are mine to write and to blog.  I am at my freshest and most creative in the morning and any interruption--an insistent and purring cat wanting my attention, for instance--annoys me.  "I'll feed you in a minute!  Let me get these ideas out!," I'll say as Peanut, the purring cat, rubs against the iPad, knocking my tapping fingers off the keys.  

I don't fret much about "big ticket" worry items--like the Affordable Care Act or the economy--that other worriers worry about.  I leave those to the president. I like him. I think he's doing a good job. 

My worries begin right in my own home--locally--and then out into the world--globally-- for I share them with others. For instance, my personal frustrations about the value of homework or lack thereof; at having to educate myself (again!) on Algebra concepts and having to pretend they're important to me--they're not; I've only ever used them to take tests--take my worrying to a worry of the overall effect all of that "Algebra stress" on families all over the world. 

"Solve for x!  AND DO IT NOW!" I think moms are yelling in a myriad of languages; "Qué encuentres el x! QUÉ LO HAGAS AHORA!" for instance, being cried out in exasperation, as moms all over South and Central America--not to mention Miami where I live--stand in their kitchens, like I stand in mine, cooking dinner.

Algebra is not good for world peace.

Writing that, with this insistent cat now regarding me through contented slits of eyes, puts a smile on my face; flattens the worries and wraps them in "what-can-you-do-but-get-on-with-it?" acceptance and places a flouncy bow of gratitude upon it.

Better go feed the cat; awaken the sleeping girl and smile.
11:04 am est          Comments

Friday, December 6, 2013

Going through fire....


 "They told me it was our boss’ “fire” that had brought them together. I informed them—my bully’s followers—that our boss's flames had licked my heels as well (A Piece Full World's "Abuse Full World"Kim's personal story of abuse)."

My website and Facebook pages are both called A Piece Full World. A Piece Full World's mission is to create a peaceful world one school at a time.  

Yet mine is an inner world of outrage. That outrage, when I discovered--through public records--the depths of the hell my former principal has wrought, was boiling.  It combined with my fear and, like a dormant  volcano, erupted. Fiery words spilled onto paper, oozed down the mountain of my distress, and destroyed my bucolic inner village. 

That outrage is muted now; it's more a rueful "you-know-the-truth-you-J.E.R.K.s-you" kind of outrage than the lava spitting outrage of three years ago, but outrage it is nonetheless.   "How," I inwardly ask, "how can my district's leadership knowingly allow predatory principals in its schools? How can my school board laud the brutes' 'performances' while desperate stacks of reports against the bullies written by desperate teachers pile high on those board members' desks?"

This journey of having been targeted by one of those brutes, standing up--alone, alone, alone--to his and his sycophants emotional pummeling and now writing about my experience and helping other school employees find safety in their school districts--is changing me.  

I've walked barefoot over the hot coals of abuse.  Some co-workers cringed as they watched for they knew they could be next.  One word--just one to our psychopathic school leader; a "no" to an illegal demand--would have them lining up barefoot behind me.

Others drooled in delight as I took the first step. "She will falter!  All who have gone before her faltered! She is no different!  HOW DARE SHE! 

She deserves it."

But here again, I am back to the incessant need to communicate my inner outrage.  I want to move beyond it. I want to communicate to you my forgiveness of my district's duplicity.  I want you to know that, although my feet are scarred by the coals of abuse, my heart is not.  I want you to know that my mind is well; focused and confident.  Before his bullying, I was just another outwardly happy person who had not yet been seared and tested by the true fires of life.  

It is that frustrating need to help; to communicate; to end, end, end, end the bullying for others, that keeps me from peace.  It is also that clarity--that slap in the face--of knowing that my school district not only allows abuse, but commends it and honors it; says it's wonderful; proclaims schools "stars" led by "stars" of principals -just look at "their" test scores!  

Ah, again, I am back to the outrage.  Maybe, though, that outrage is not about me now and maybe it isn't outrage at all.  Maybe it's now a clarity and a courage and a desire to help.  Maybe I can be peaceful and honest and willing and maybe I don't need to "put this away" as if it never was, but use my experience and all I have learned since, as a guide for others.

So...outrage.  So...peace. So...forgiveness.   Blink.  I am there. 

But I will not be silent.
5:58 pm est          Comments

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