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Monday, April 27, 2015

Written two years ago...

 Written two years ago about on line safety....

Glass Houses. Rock throwing. Wildfires and Forgiveness.  

"I asked if they'd heard about glass houses and rock throwing.  I asked if any of them were perfect people.  I admitted to imperfection too.  We all agreed that with others' good aim, we'd all be standing in the shattered remains of our fragile houses.  We'd be standing there--cut and bleeding from the broken glass--still holding un-thrown rocks."

A seventh grade girl, Maribel, recently came to me, a school counselor, in tears.  She'd gotten off her school bus at our school's front door and been confronted by a group of girls and one boy.  She ran.  She was crying, frightened, and hidden in a bathroom's stall.  "GET OUT OF THERE!",she reported a group of female students screaming at her.

Those students and many others, when I spoke with them, accused Maribel of spreading a rumor.  Here's how the report from the confronting students went.  "Jack told us to text Fran that Maribel had said that Annette had broken up with Jack because he'd kissed Laura.  It was all over Facebook!  She shouldn't have done that, Ms. Werner.  We just wanted to know why she did that." 

"Because we all do stupid things sometimes," I said.  

Maribel admitted to doing a stupid thing. Should have been over and done; that "coming clean"; should have been enough.  

But it's not in cyberspace.

With the click of the post button, that "we" of whom the students spoke went from five to potentially hundreds of kids. That "we" can spread from middle schools to high schools and enrage hundreds of other kids who then want to "defend."   It's no wonder Maribel felt scared.  

"We weren't going to fight her.......we just wanted to know why she did it."

I worked really hard at unraveling the complicated story.   I wanted this story to end.  I needed these justice seeking kids' help. Outraged students defending honor become cyber bullies on line.  That is very dangerous for everybody.

Whee! Anything goes on Facebook and Instagram and Vine and Spillit and "Ask Me Anything." Click, click, click.  Kids alone on computers and iPhones and iPads. Parents knocking on bedroom doors and yelling out, "Everything ok? Got your home work done? Do you want your dinner in there?"

Cyber abuse is a reality.  We adults are clueless to the enormity of the abuse.

Maribel had identified four girls and one boy as the students who confronted her upon her arrival at school. Defensive and outraged, they wanted their side of the story told.  They really didn't have a side to that story.  They had nothing more than their outrage. They were holding on.  

Here's where I went with that outrage.  I asked if they'd heard about glass houses and rock throwing.  I asked if any of them were perfect people.  I admitted to imperfection too.  We all agreed that with others' good aim, we'd all be standing in the shattered remains of our fragile houses.  We'd be standing there--cut and bleeding from the broken glass--still holding un-thrown rocks.

We talked about forgiveness. 

We, I think, at least for Maribel, kept the wild fire from spreading.

This time.

5:57 am edt          Comments

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Reposting from January:

In schools and districts, muscled up arms vigorously sweep, sweep, sweep dirt, dirt, dirt under rugs, rugs, and more rugs; and if there ain't no rug then they just spread the dirt around...

The sweepers are district big whig wanna-bees; buzzing and humming through the honey combed hive of downtown offices.  They sweep in tight skirts and high heels.  They sweep in well cut suit jackets and glossed shoes.  

They all sweep.

"Uh oh!" they say as the "Here-comes-more-dirt" alarm sounds.  Here comes another load of the state's dirt: new standards and tests and requirements and "not-yet-determined-cut-scores." "My God! Where will we hide the consequences to children of this?!," they cry in alarm.  And then they get back to the business of even more vigorous sweeping, sweeping, sweeping.

The concept of "spreading dirt; sweeping it" is not entirely accurate.  The "dirt" in our school districts is not just spread, it's dumped and then it's spread.  It's dumped from the tippy top.  In my mind I see a dump truck making its way up a mountain of trash. The truck is driven by a school district's superintendent, but in the passenger seat is a state's governor or, maybe, a presidential candidate.  They're dressed in fine suits.  The governor and the presidential candidate don't want to be truly "in the driver's seat" because then it would look like they were responsible.  They've been telling parents that this is all good for children! That this heap of  eighteen year olds with "Certificates of Completion" instead of high school diplomas, and sixteen year old eighth graders who've been held back at least twice--let's hope they've learned their classroom and life lessons!--is "good for the nation!"; that another and bigger load of computerized testing and "Common Core" standards will have our/your children "college and career" ready.

But those children can't even drive the dump truck, for to do so requires a high school diploma and they, even though they've met all graduation requirements except the standardized test, have only "Certificates of Completion" to show for their four years. 

These children have done everything right. They've passed their courses: they've served their communities with plants planted and preschoolers tutored and magazines passed out at hospitals.  The only thing they've not done to earn the hard earned diploma, is pass the finely dressed superintendent/governor/presidential candidate's and the superintendent's/governor's/ presidential candidate's millionaire buddies' test.

Schools' employees and the children they teach--are at the mountain's bottom. The employees are going through the trash looking for some one thing of real value that maybe those at the top dumped in their dirt dumping.

They're also, at the same time, trying to protect the children from the stinking mess of standardized tests and accountability and lack of infrastructure and "who-cares-if-you-know-how-to-type?"and the "no graduation/promotion-for-you-even-though-we-know-that-less-that-40-percent-of-you-will-pass-the-test-because-that's-how-we-designed-it" stench of the standardized testing sludge oozing down trash mountain. 

The dump truck, though, never stops.  It's on its way down the mountain of trash for another load.

1:12 pm edt          Comments

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