School Climate & Safety Opinion

We Educate, Bullies, Victims, and Bystanders

By Jill Berkowicz & Ann Myers — January 25, 2018 2 min read
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News this morning carried more of the unfolding story of the California family whose 13 children were kept captive, tortured and abused. One report indicated the abuse began when the family lived in Texas and one of the girls was bullied at school for how she looked. Eventually, they were all “homeschooled”. Also, today, we think about another school shooting. Victims and the shooter all Kentucky teenagers. Officials have not yet released what motivated the shooting but our hearts go out to yet another community where children’s lives are lost and forever changed, where tragedy creates a day families and the community may never forget and to the educators who set their own trauma aside to support others. All of our hearts break. We are sad and angry that we cannot protect the children.

Labels Divide

Senators and Congressmen and Congresswomen refer to each other with labels, as Democrats or Republicans or far left or right. Labels decrease individual identity and the labels themselves describe people as bad or good. It has become unthinkable for a Democrat to agree with the Republicans and visa versa. But, a radical group of moderates may cut a new path and cause us to remember that there can be common ground.

What can we do to make a difference? To begin, we can hope for and work for a social change right now. Even the sexual harassment revelations are tearing at long held patterns of abuse of power. Power wielding has become a norm. It is not who we are.

Educators Will Make The Difference

Women were given the right to vote over a century ago but no female has risen to the presidency of the nation and still corporate boardrooms are primarily male. We rely on Hollywood and the media to raise our consciences about discrimination and harassment but we could find it closer to home if we looked hard. It took more than a century before an African American was President of the United States after the right to vote was extended to black Americans. Along the way there are fits and starts, demonstrations and marches, changes in laws, arrests, books and articles, and outrage. Laws can change but social change even lags behind legal change. Changes of heart come one person at a time. Usually because of one person or one encounter that makes all the difference. Those can happen in school. We are in a difficult time. This time is one that we have no frame of reference. The polarization of sides, beliefs, values are extreme and are flaunted. We are called as educators to be awake and active.

Ann Myers and Jill Berkowicz are the authors of The STEM Shift (2015, Corwin) a book about leading the shift into 21st century schools. Ann and Jill welcome connecting through Twitter & Email.

Photo by maxlkt courtesy of Pixabay

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