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Sunday, April 30, 2017

Damsels and Dragons...

 Thoughts while standing at a kitchen sink:

"Damsels are slain instead of saved.  Dragons are saved instead of slain. That's what's wrong with public education. Why does my district's school board keep fire breathing school principal dragons?  Why are school teacher and counselor damsels the ones in danger? Why isn't it the other way around?"

News Flash!

"SCHOOL DISTRICT SLAYS DAMSELS!  SAVES DRAGONS! The story of one school district, one school, and one union."

The school's slain damsels: KW (that's not me), @#, ME (that's me), #$, &!, %^, #@ and @!. I was charged almost two thousand dollars to see how many distressed damsels requested to transfer out of that school so there have to be a whole lot more.

Theirs are slain damsel careers.  Slain ability to pay bills and mortgages.  Slain health. Telomeres. Slain sleep.  Sanity. 

Slain damsel respect. Damsels are left with "the jitters."  Left with slain respect for themselves and for their employer.  Slain trust.  
Now toasting toast.  Coffee in hand:

The district saves fire breathing school principal dragons like O. He's possibly the worst of the lot.  Even the union identified him as the most awful and dangerous.  But there are more and they're breathing fire at other schools.  In my district they include: E and M. 

The district protects dragon careers. It saves dragon bill paying and mortgages. Saves dragon retirements. Saves the dragon fire of bullying, sexual harassment and lies so that damsels lose almost everything.
Now unloading a dishwasher:

Saving damsels and slaying dragons:

MN-the biggest dragon slayer of them all. There are/were no others at my former school. There was me.  I left though.  Was accused by other distressed damsels of damsel abandonment. Was accused of "just taking care of my own (damsel) self."

Working at that school must be like living in Cuba.  I once heard that Cuban citizens can't even criticize the government in their homes.  Even family members are spies.  That's how it felt working at that school. Spies were everywhere.  There was only the one dragon slayer and he died.  He died in the dragon's layer--the dragon's office.  His death is now just another part of the fearful whisperings about that school. Whispers about bullying, misogyny, sexual harassment, danger and now death.  

And still the dragon is saved.  Still more damsels, surely, are slain.

The dragon slayer, when he died, was probably protecting yet another damsel from that dragon's fire  I wasn't there, so I can't be sure. I'd left years earlier. This damsel in distress (me) had to pick up her empty fire extinguisher and get herself and her frayed telomeres on outta there.  

If it hadn't been for the dragon slayer, I would not have made it.  

Yet, that school and the school district are NOT CUBA!  Distressed damsels are supposed to be protected!  There are school board policies against bullying, harassment, and violence! Damsels have rights!  All kinds of damsels--old, young, corpulent, thin, blonde, buxom, white, black, or male (because guys need to be saved too).   Once, my female assistant principal told me--with some disdain--that a male teacher "cried like a baby" in front of the principal. It seemed a game with our dragon.  "Two damsels cried today!" he might exclaim!  "I'm going for three tomorrow.... I'm bored."

The dishwasher remains full.... 

"Save me!"

9:27 am edt          Comments

Sunday, April 23, 2017

A president, a senator, a newscaster, and a principal go into a bar...


Words matter.  Spoken.  Written.  They matter.  How they are spoken matters.  Written too.  It also matters where they are spoken.  

It matters that my former principal once pursed his lips and said to me, "This is where I got my first kiss."  It matters, too, that I feel I must explain myself to you. Why I was there in that hotel lobby bar alone with him, and so I will not.  I will write, however, that I was disgusted.

It matters that he screamed and cursed at me in front of other women.  He intimidated them and me. Intimidated me to "STAY THE F--K OUT OF IT!" and the other women to say they didn't remember his screams.

It matters, matters, matters, that ALL women who've reported him have been silenced. Probably some with money.  It matters that my district charged me almost 2,000 dollars to see public records about him. I'd wanted records of employee requests to transfer out of his school.

It matters that his "Roger Ailes" boss equivalents--regional and district leadership--do nothing to help women working at that school.

They only help him.

It matters that (former) Florida Senator Frank Artiles, apparently got drunk and called people "n---as" and "b--ches." It matters, too, that others are brushing aside his words' impact.  "I think we're all ready to move on," said Representative Jose Diaz.

I'm not Mr. Diaz.  I'm left to contemplate in frustration Mr. Artiles' disdain for my and my daughter's gender.  Your willingness to so quickly move on too. 

So, words matter. It matters that President Trump lasciviously spoke of grabbing women's "pu---es".  President Trump was in his late fifties and had not yet fathered Baron.  But he was already married to our first lady. 

It matters that Bill O'Reilly's propositions and threats to women--over twenty years--were ignored.  It matters that I was deceived by his on air grin and twinkle.  I thought he was fair.  Was balanced.  In spite of Kimberly Guilfoye and the rest of the Fox News "girls" in tight skirts,  push up bras, false eye lashes, and stilettos, I trusted Bill to inform me about "conservative issues."

Bill's impish grin and twinkling "on the air" eyes must have soured quickly though when the studio lights were dimmed.

I'm Monday morning quarterbacking my gullibility.  But yeah, that grin, now that I look closely IS a smirk.  And that twinkle ain't nothin' but lascivious, lecherous thoughts about his "Foxy broads" passing through his "Foxy brain."

I'll bet he often thinks about his "Foxy ladies"--women with masters' degrees....pole dancing. Erudite and smart women naked and in stiletto heels.  You know that's some "thought provoking" stuff!  

What must it be like to be a woman and work at Fox News?  Are women required to wear those tight skirts and push up bras?  Do their "gams" have to be on display? Because not a one of them has a dimpled gam.  Those displayed gams are workout worthy!  As in work out your male eyes and pretend you're interested in the news.

The dimpled gams are pants covered and on MSNBC and CNN.

Conservative values.  What are those exactly?  Do conservatives value..tradition?  Do Fox news watching men want women "(back) in their 'traditional' places"?  I add the word "back" because women have worked hard to get out of the place men like my former principal and Bill O'Reilly apparently would like them. Dancing around poles, cooking dinner, and stuffing pipes?  Women are so much more than their boobs, butts and p---ies, gentlemen!  

I'm done with Fox News.  Done with defensive, disrespectful, dangerous men like my state senator, my president, my newscaster and my former principal.

Me and my couch sitting, dimpled gams'll be at CNN with Anderson. 

9:11 am edt          Comments

Sunday, April 16, 2017

My friend O and the FSA...

This is what my seven year old friend O said when I asked about recess at our local public elementary school:

"We didn't get recess today.  We weren't good. We only get recess if we are good."  He said this in a forlorn and small voice.  Kind of heaved a seven year old sigh.  I can't imagine O misbehaved.  O's quiet.  Just a little shy.  I am certain he does what his teacher tells him to do.  So it must have been one of the other exuberant and boisterous boys who exasperated the second grade teacher. According to O, no one "gets to go outside" unless everyone does.  And so the children stayed in their room.

Probably did bubbling drills for upcoming tests.  Or maybe their teacher required another online prep for the FSA.

It's been fun getting to know O. I really like him.  I like that he likes me too. O's new to our neighborhood and he's "my kind of person"--thoughtful. 

I'd picked up O and taken him for nuggets, fries and a coke. We were having our conversation in the car on the way to his "favorite restaurant", Chik-Fil-A. I was happy with his choice as Chik-Fil-A's kale and cherry salad is delicious.  O's parents were both working late and had called in some desperation to see if I could pick up O.  I, the neighbor--and on the "emergency contact card"--gave solemn and smart O a thrill.  Something different!!

He hadn't expected me.

O is an artist. With sidewalk chalk, he once drew a number of super heroes on my back patio.  Each super hero had "see-through-to-a-bad-person's-heart" powers.  Those powers were used only when that bad person's knowledge was necessary to solve a crime.

O is a reader too. He plowed through the Wimpy Kid series over the course of a weekend. I witnessed in some wonder, O CHOOSE TO READ instead of watch television. Of course, my "seventeen-year-old-babysitting-O"daughter was on her phone beside him.

I would have known O's a reader anyway because he's engaging and smart.  For example, I was pleased when O chose me to be his team member in a Battleship competition in the tree house in my backyard.  My sixteen year old son and aforementioned daughter were our competitors. 

O and I won.  We giggled and slapped five.  We'd gotten a good hit right from the beginning when we took out my children's two holed submarine. I knew the energy was good between O and me as we blasted through our opponents' sub and then five holed aircraft carrier. We were ruthless!

"Hit." my children would desultorily mumble as O and I gleefully pondered our next move.  O figured out that my kids had grouped their ships pretty much in a corner of their ocean and so he and I rat-a-tat-tatted that sinking flotilla.


O's got some Florida Department of Education tests to take next week.  He's taken Florida Department of Education reading and math placement assessments already.  Did that his very first week at school.  Data, it seems, is more important than a person.  More important than a conversation.

I could have been that person.  I could have told O's teacher and his principal that O's an advanced reader, but no one asked me. I could have told them that they didn't need to set my buddy O in front of a computer and have him do reading drills.  I could have been O's assessor.  "O's really smart and creative," I would have said.  I would have told them about his super heroes and their powers. His patience when drawing them. His perseverance.  His determined spirit.  

I might have relayed to them, too, my expanding heart when O unexpectedly saw that I was picking him up. His smile spread across his freckled face.  "Ah," I thought to myself, "this must be what it feels like to be a grandparent."

 I would have spoken about emotional learning and how important it is for quiet and shy O to socialize during a recess from his test prep.  

But he didn't get one the day I picked him up. Recess is, it seems, a reward for seven year olds' cooperation in test prep and testing. 

Poor O's a public school second grader in Florida now. 

God help him. 
11:33 am edt          Comments

Monday, April 3, 2017

Letter to a bullied educator...

 Hey there bullied educator. I got nothin' new to say to you.  I know you are saa-ufffff---errrr--iiiinnnngggg.  Your pain and your fear drawn out like my sufferingly exaggerated word.  I know it's the worst thing you have ever professionally experienced.  I know you are looking to A Piece Full World for answers.  Solutions.  HELP.  

Have you documented your experience?  Written down every single awful thing--his innuendo and his threats; his two faced leadership; his screams and his profanity?  Have you written about every vivid awful event? Written it down with descriptors better suited for a battle field? Written of the emotional grenades? The mental machine guns?Have you sent your anguish to your union rep?  Someone?  Yes?  Good.  No?  Then you better get on it, girlfriend!

Have you also written down how his bullying makes you feel? The foreboding?  The wariness?  The suspicion? Your lurching stomach?  Dry mouth?  My God!  It's as if you're the co-star of an Alfred Hitchcock movie instead of a kindergarten teacher trying to teach!  

Gas lighting: manipulation over time to believe you've gone insane.

"Ms. Werner, there've been complaints. We must talk."  My Alfred Hitchcock co-starring principal routinely said to me. He dimmed my lights.  Turned on his own. Snickered.  Oh yeah, he was such a tease!  Snicker, snicker.

If only I had girlishly giggled at his sexual harassment.  Swooned at his manly cursing.  I did not.  Instead I assertively confronted him.  "Please don't call me 'honey", I said to him.  "I don't like it."  I should have continued.  I should have said, "It makes me feel unclean and sexualized when it comes from you.  You make my stomach twist with your salacious grin. You're a true misogynist , aren't you? You really don't like women, do you? 

Who do you think you are, little man?"

But I did not say that. 

What a mess I was at that school.  I became an inner coward.  I didn't want to see him in the hallways for to see him meant feeling inadequate and insecure. And his buddy the other counselor.  And his lackey the assistant principal.  What a worn out "yes-sir-ee-bob-er" she was.  Poor woman. O. M. G.  Even worse maybe was she than the counselor friend...

But I became more than a coward too.  I became a hero.  My own hero.  I DID NOT BECOME ONE OF "THEM". 

Gas Lighting.   It took some time to even begin to touch the buried horror at that school. I still don't know the half of it.  One bullied educator--one of so very many--in her plea to the district wrote: "PLEASE HELP ME."

 "You dropped the ball," my door mat assistant principal once said to me.  This was just one more assault as she desperately worked at finding SOMEONE TO BLAME.  I'd innocently taken a call from a parent.  The parent was concerned about her daughter being threatened.  I asked that the school's receptionist relay that concern to my DM, er, I mean, AP.  I was in a delicate meeting with the parents of one of our special needs students.  I'd taken a bathroom break and was called over by the receptionist to speak with the parent. 

The girls fought while I was in the meeting. "You dropped the ball," my assistant principal said to me as she began her maneuvering to cover her own butt.  This was one of those "Oh no you don't" moments for me.  Inner hurricanes become the foreboding odd silence of the hurricane's center.  Cowards become heroes.

What a hellish time in my life!  Almost two years. NEVER before or after have I every day felt that kind of dread.  Every day...to this day.  Recently I passed by his school's road on the way to my therapist after being diagnosed with PTSD after my family was sued because of an accident at my son's school.  I know that's a run on sentence and that is exactly how I feel right now.  I feel "run on"; PTSD trampled.  PTSD flattened. PTSD crushed by the leadership of my school district. 

I run on too. I run on and away.  But it is never away.  I carry him and his emotional brutality with me. He's ONMYBACK! 

And he's a heavy load, my friends. 

My current assistant principal last week asked me in some wonder why my brute still holds so much power in my life. After all, I've been "out of there" for almost seven years now.  

"After all".  After all of what?  The cover up and the lies?  I've been called by yet another target.  Good God!  What a joke to superciliously have an anti-bullying policy for our children when our schools are filled with such leaders as my former principal.

I cannot answer.  I do not know.  I only know that he and his smirk and his oily hair and his squinting eyes and his beefy white and hairy hands....well, they are part of who I've become.  The bad.  Less idealistic.  Less joyous.  Less trusting.  

But more too.  More good. More resilient.  More resolved. More than anything...accepting.  
6:09 pm edt          Comments

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Click here for my district's bullying and harassment policy. You will see I have made comments....