School yard bullying has been an issue under schools’ microscopes since the Columbine tragedy struck at the heart of America. This has resulted in monumental amounts of bureaucratic paperwork that inundate our schools with forms and procedures. Hate crimes legislation has also been enacted in many states to defend the innocent victims of bullies. Often legislation of this type infringes upon our liberty of conscience but we “tolerate” it in the interest of protecting our children. In spite of well-intentioned legislation and extensive bullying procedures enacted by schools, one group of bullies has gone unnoticed.
The big adult bullies: teachers’ unions
While parents and school administrators do their best to protect children from school yard bullies, they often fail to recognize how they are being bullied themselves. Many state boards of education have procedures in place on how to deal school yard bullies but are at a loss at how to deal with teachers’ unions and tenure policies that bully public schools into submission. These polices usually have a negative effect on the quality of education our children receive. Schools are forced to keep teachers that they would fire in a New York minute if the unions didn’t protect them. Undoubtedly, sometimes that could be a good thing. Minor skirmishes and personality conflicts between teachers and administrators need not be feared by teachers. Unfortunately, the opposite is also true. Bad teachers need not fear being fired either.
Logo of the National Education Association
The most recent and obvious occurrence of adult bullying is in the State of New York. In Buffalo, New York there are laws that require annual teacher evaluation reports. To the level-headed that law would seem to be both logical and credible. However, the teachers’ union is mounting serious objections and is challenging this law. In my humble opinion, they are nothing more than an organized group of bullies determined to play by their own rules. What reasonable objection can the union have to teachers being evaluated? This recent course of action should make it clear that these unions have little concern about the academic careers of students. Instead, their two main concerns seem to be protecting teachers – albeit unreasonably, and perpetuating a monstrous political power base.
As public schools across this nation continue to decline, the monopoly created by teachers’ unions should be microscopically examined. I fully understand that historically unions have served a good purpose. But in the case of teachers’ unions, the once noble purpose advocated by them now has fallen prey to ambitious tyrannical forces. Those forces compel conservatives to finance philosophies with which they disagree and candidates which they may abhor. The list of teachers’-union tyrannies also extend to curricula that inflict social philosophies upon students that may be at odds with their parents’ beliefs.
Very few of their objectives seem to deal with the quality of academics, and those they have promoted, i.e. classroom sizes and the needs for more money, have proven to be false choices. Today we have smaller class sizes and a school system that absorbs nearly 85% of local and state tax dollars nationwide. Smaller class sizes have increased the number of teachers needed and larger budgets have increased the monies we pour into our public schools. These things, however, have not increased the academic standards across the nation.
If it’s not bullying to force people to do things that run against their conscience if they want to keep their jobs, or to force the public to pay absurd amounts of money to promote programs that run counter to their conscience, then will someone please tell me what bullying is.
If you have ever wondered what has become of the grown up school yard bully, perhaps you need to look for him or her in your local teachers’ union. As my grandfather used to say, the wolf may lose his hair but never his habit. The big kid who bullied you in the school yard for your allowance or just for the fun of it may have changed his or her tactics but it’s bullying just the same. The way to fight a school yard bully and an adult bully is still the same: stand up to them and tell them to take a hike. We are no longer children that can be easily intimidates and frightened. We are adults who are supposed to know right from wrong and are supposed to be able to think our way through a problem. What’s the answer: stand up America and tell the teachers’ unions to strike if they want to, but if they do, we will just find another way to educate our kids (perhaps it’s high time we did). Let’s see who flinches first.