Tuesday, March 5, 2013

On Bullying

Amy Fleming via photopin cc

I grew up with some of these labels.  Not all, but enough.  I know the value of one person who cares, or two girls who sit with you at lunch, or what it feels like to hide inside and pretend nothing bothers you on the outside.  The worst part is, often the labels fade, but the hurt scars over. So I do believe that we need to consider the issue of bullying in Iowa, with our students, and within social media.  IT MATTERS.  On that note...

Two pieces related to bullying came out in the Iowa Legislature today.

The first was HSB196, a piece on social media bullying.   It does a better job of defining bullying and harassment then other things I have seen, but I surely hope it doesn't pass in its current form.

Particularly concerning is the section that talks about my Immunity as an Educator, .

I do report situations as I see them to the person(s) I think need to see them.  This has included parents, my principal, my superintendent, my guidance department, and in one case, another school district that was experiencing a rash of Twitter bullying.   I get it.  I do something, not because I fear retribution, but BECAUSE IT IS THE RIGHT THING TO DO.  Unfortunately, this language will not enamor new teachers to social media, but probably have the unintended consequence of shutting down some teacher and student interaction...because if you don't see it, you don't have to report it.

Secondly, the way I read the bill, if a student is at home, and another student sees his or her tweet at school, that now is the school's purview for enforcement.  Is that what we envision for schools...becoming enforcers?

The language of this bill came from School Administrators of Iowa, according to ShaneVander Hart's conservative blog.  The bill is well-intentioned.  But once again, we fell into the trap of listening to one group of education stakeholders, rather than the education community, including IASB, or ISEA, or AEA teacher-leaders, or social-media savvy students. Additionally, I'm not sure that I want my administration to have the unilateral responsibilities listed in this bill.  Bullying is a huge problem, and not one group's concern, which it becomes with this bill.


The second piece of legislation was House Joint Resolution 11, introduced, ironically, within hours of the above bill.  While the first bill keeps people from making comments regarding sexual orientation, this resolution subjugates same-sex Iowans by defining traditional marriage as between one man and one woman, and relegating gay people to a secondary tier.  After working so hard with students to become accepting and respectful to all, I cannot fathom why we would want to move backwards.


Please, the Legislative Funnel Week deadline for one-chamber passage is March 18.  Talk to your legislator and voice your ideas and concerns.

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