Circumstances are not "the best" for many children.
They're not even "the mediocre." They're just "the plain awful". Children pack their emotional bags with
the circumstances of their lives, sling the bags onto their backs, and bring them to school. Some open the bags for
all to see their circumstantial contents.
at this," they might say. "Look at my pain."
A twelve year old girl might open her bag and say: "Oh, that's my
uncle touching my nipples when I was ten. He still does. Last night he kissed them. He's my mom's brother. Says
it's our secret.
brings me great gifts at Christmas.
That's my mom wrapped up with the ribbons of her screams. Do you see? I've wrapped her tight in my mind to shut her
up but I can still hear her. She blames me for lots of stuff. She's never ever said anything to my uncle but she knows.
That's the boy who calls me
a whale and a cow. He's in my homeroom. He makes fun of me with loud 'moo's' as he walks behind me. Gets others to laugh too.
I deserve it. I'm fat
and I'm ugly.
don't know about my uncle and my mom. I don't think they'd care anyway.
I got an 'F' on my last reading test."
Other children are reluctant to even admit they have their bags of circumstances
got no problems!", the thirteen year old boy might defiantly say. "I don't know why the fuck this bag's so heavy!
So what me and my mom's living in a shelter. So what I ain't seen my dad for six years. I don't care! I can take care
he always has. He, too, did not pass his last reading test.
The marijuana toking bad ass rich kid's got his bag of circumstances too. It's
filled with parental inattentiveness. He just does what he wants when he wants. He wants to ride skateboards,
play basketball, have sex with his girlfriend, and smoke weed. He does not want to do homework.
He passed his reading test. He is not, however, "making required
gains." In fact, his test scores are slipping.
Children bring to school bags packed with "attitude" and disrespect.
They bring bags packed with fear; with insecurity. They bring their anger and their frustration.
"Under the best of circumstances..."
Bill Gates' circumstances were pretty good when he was a boy. He
had two parents at home. His mom and dad had enough money to send Bill to a prestigious prep school. They probably
assured he had nutritious meals. Maybe they limited his TV watching.
To my knowledge he never experienced sexual or emotional abuse. Probably
an exasperated parent yelling at young Bill to finish his homework was the most challenging circumstance he faced.
Or maybe it was a failed attempt
to make the prep school basketball team that led him to his garage filled with computer gadgetry. The "lemon" of
not making the team led to his multi-billion dollar Microsoft "lemonade". One never knows how blessings will be
wants all children to have the same educational opportunities that he had at his private prep school. If children don't, then
he says it's teachers' fault.
teaching", Bill might say, "will make up for any of those awful circumstances in those heavy bags children bring
to school. Teaching will take care of neglect and poverty and any one of the myriad of circumstances packed into those
bags. A great teacher will take all of that away! Never mind, children, that you didn't have breakfast this morning!
Never mind that it is your responsibility to get yourself up and out of bed and to the bus stop by yourself because
your mother is working the night shift and doesn't get home until after you're sitting in your homeroom bleary eyed from lack
of sleep and supervision! Never mind all of that! Your excellent teacher will take care of you! Will pound
word drills and reading passages into you so that you will "demonstrate gains" and pass that assessment test that
I and my team have devised!
you don't have any elective classes. I can't measure guitar playing gains! I'd have to talk to a teacher for that
and that's something I don't do--talk to teachers.
does bring to mind though, the pernicious issue of how to evaluate elective teachers' greatness; the guitar teacher and the
PE teacher and the art teacher... Guess I'll just base their evaluations on your reading assessment. What the hell?!
Got nothin' else!
back to you. young man living in a shelter. And you, sexually molested girl. I'll take care of you and give you opportunities!
I'll do it through assessments and data and evaluations.
And if you don't pass high stakes tests--those you must pass to be promoted or
to receive your high school diploma--I'll give you lots more opportunities to pass them! I'm fair! I'll let you be a
sixteen year old eighth grader! I'll hold you back until you get it right!
Because I," Mr. Gates seems to say, "I run the show."
Next up: Money talks...and
is defining education policy.
Cronyism and favoritism from school boards and districts' superintendents
allow abusive tyrants into schools. Pleas and prayers from desperate staff and parents of children within those schools--and
huge numbers begging to get out--go unheard. In fact, it is those reporting--68% of the staff in this case--who are
deemed "the problem".
This is from 2011. This time in Texas. In 2014, the same principal reigns...
Golbow Elementary Administration
Accused Of ‘Bullying’ Tactics, Teachers Say They Work In Fear
Saying they have been bullied,
belittled, disrespected and forced out, more than 50 teachers, parents and former educators from Katy ISD’s Golbow Elementary
School showed up at Monday night’s school board meeting to plead with trustees to investigate the situation at the north
The speakers said the current campus administration has created an atmosphere of fear among
teachers and parents with tactics of intimidation and retaliation.
Even a retired principal from
Golbow took the podium to address the school board about the situation.
The one thing nobody mentioned
publicly were the names of the people they blame for much of the problem. Privately, they identified those individuals as
school principal Ann Smith and her top administrators, assistant principals Ceci Perez and Felicia Sheedy.
Even before being invited forward
to address the school board during the public comments portion of the meeting, Katy ISD Board President Judith Snyder issued
a warning to those who had signed up to speak. Snyder told speakers if they attempted to voice “complaints against specific
personnel, we’ll have to ask you to cease at that time.”
Third grade teacher Cynthia Cameron
was the first to speak about the problems at Golbow, telling trustees the staff felt “bullied” and intimidated.
Less than 20 seconds into Cameron’s remarks, Snyder interrupted with yet another warning,
telling the veteran teacher “employees may not complain to the board until all (internal) appeal processes have been
Cameron persisted, saying Golbow employees were “being bullied and treated like we’re
“It has become difficult to work at Golbow because it appears the district does not trust
us,” she said.
One parent told the board “teachers are scared for their jobs” and parents were
“frustrated” and felt unwelcome on campus.
“Teachers are preoccupied
with toeing the administration’s line,” he said.
Former teacher Cindy Petrowski,
a 21-year educator, told the school board she resigned after last year because of the “atmosphere of fear” at
the school. She also said teachers were routinely non-renewed or pressured to resign over their perceived support of the school’s
administration. One of the teachers forced out at Golbow took a position in another school district, only to be recognized
as a teacher of the year in that district.
Fifth grade teacher Tobias Whitman told
the board he had fallen into disfavor after being asked for his “honest opinion.” Whitman said after he voiced
an opinion the school administration did not like, he was “targeted.”
Because of the stress of working
at Golbow, Whitman said he has been placed on medication for high blood pressure and depression.
“Teachers are constantly
threatened and constantly living in fear of their job,” Whitman said.
Possibly the most compelling
testimony came from retired Golbow principal Terri Majors. She told trustees “there is an unhealthy, psychologically
damaging work and learning environment at Golbow that has been created and fueled by the current administration.”
“Behaviors and actions of Golbow’s three administrators injure the staff’s
self-esteem, cause anguish during work hours, are perceived as hostile, unwanted and unwarranted. These actions defeat the
goal of providing a happy, positive learning environmental for the students,” Majors said.
She also said the school district’s
human resources department was complicit in the retaliation against teachers.
“There is documented ongoing
support for Golbow’s current administration by the district’s human resources department despite the large volume
of teacher resignations, transfers and non-renewals that far exceed the norm,” Majors said. “At the end of the
school year, 68 percent of the teaching staff at Golbow when the new administration was hired will be gone.”
Majors also noted teachers were reassigned to “incompatible positions” to force
them out. Examples included an art teacher with no classroom experience reassigned to first grade; an ELS teacher with one
year experience assigned to special education; a fourth grade math teacher transferred to second grade and others.
Majors also said the ongoing controversy is also affecting students.
“Students are taught in
an atmosphere in which teachers are bullied by administrators and fear for one’s job is palpable. Recognition by students
of their teachers’ emotional distress impedes their ability to learn at optimal levels,” Majors said.
Majors and the others asked the school board to conduct an investigation into their complaints
and the situation at Golbow.
Board members did not respond to any of the comments and no action was taken.
I am an expert
in workplace bullying. I make that claim, not from the extensive research and training I've done and had on the subject--although
I've done much and had much since my horror--but from experience.
I am a workplace bullying expert because just thinking of my former principal
makes my eyes close as I shiver. I am an expert because my jaw clenches at thoughts of him; him with a spreading leer--starts
right under his nose and extends up and out across his face--and squinted eyes.
I am an expert because I sat in my office at that school alone often;
excluded from the "goings-on" in the main office by him, his counselor friend, the assistant principal, and her
counselor mate. I am an expert because, although at that time--at least at the beginning--I was perplexed, now I am
grateful for their exclusion of me.
were on the horizon and they'd not handled them well. As an aside, though, it didn't matter how they handled the lawsuits.
It didn't matter that they outright lied and formerly documented lies for all are either still in their positions or
are being rewarded for their allegiances to his brutality. His "second-in-abuse-command" (maybe "in command",
for I am only now beginning to truly recognize how dangerous she is) counselor buddy and the assistant principal's counselor
buddy--the assistant principal and her "matey" once told me they'd bonded by together going through years of his
fire--are still in their positions at that school. The assistant principal is now elsewhere a principal.
He is still the principal there.
I am an expert because memories such as the following will never leave
me: I saw him lean over, his mouth inches from cowering and sweating children's faces, those he'd made stand in corners--or
rather told someone else to make stand in corners--and scream loud and harsh words. I'm an expert because I was scared at
this almost daily greeting to my entering the main office.
I'm an expert because I did nothing. I let those poor children stand there
--guilty of something; running through hallways perhaps; a roll of their eyes, but not deserving this--and endure his wrath.
I once saw his spittle, like dust in rays of sunlight, strike a child.
I am an expert because I reported my abuser. I turned him in; turned
him in to the power players of my district. I spoke honestly and forthrightly about his bullying. I laid it and my job
on the line thinking that my district's big shots, working to keep me safe, would applaud my courage and truth.
I am an expert because when
they didn't do that; when they kept him instead of me safe at that school, I was hurt. I was surprised. I got
It is my
anger and outrage that educated me; had me gobbling up all tidbits of insight into my horror; drew me to angry and outraged
others--job security be damned!--had me audaciously seek and share public records.
Ah! those records are enlightening!
I unabashedly claim expertise in workplace bullying. I claim it
because I earned this outrage and this anger. I claim it because, I, like my former assistant principal and her counselor
friend at that school, went through fire.
integrity has not yet been burned by his fire.
But theirs has been burned to a crisp.