School Bullying by the Oklahoma State Department of Education

Bullying has a negative effect on the social environment of schools, creates a climate of fear among students, inhibits the ability to learn, and leads to other antisocial behavior. Other detrimental effects of bullying include impact on school safety, student engagement, and the overall school environment.

Bullying is dangerous because if left unattended it can rapidly escalate into even more serious violence and abuse. Just as you have gateway drugs, bullying is gateway behavior. Too often it is the first step down the road to one of the tragic incidents of school violence we all have watched in horror on the evening news. This Web site is dedicated to preventing bullying behavior.

I took the above verbiage straight from the Oklahoma State Department of Education’s website. State Superintendent Janet Barresi’s name and photo are at the top. I wonder if she’s read the state’s bullying information and if she’s aware that there are two Oklahoma State Statutes regarding bullying: School Bullying Prevention Act and the Oklahoma School Security Act.

According to an article in today’s Tulsa World, state school superintendents who don’t comply with the Department of Education’s mandate to run a test of their online tests on Jan. 28 will run the risk of losing “state funds and official recognition, including accreditation, plus ‘to revoke the certificates of persons failing or refusing to make such reports.’”

To summarize, let me remind you of the huge standardized testing fiasco that happened last year when computers were crashing like falling rocks in an avalanche while students across the state were taking high stakes tests. In order to avoid an embarrassing repeat, Superintendent Barresi is demanding that schools run two practice tests with all of their computers (and kids), taking time away from classroom instruction. Shouldn’t CTB McGraw-Hill, the testing company that we are paying millions of dollars to test our kids, have the responsibility of testing their own product? Oklahoma isn’t the only state that experienced testing malfunctions. How is this being handled in those states?

As usual, educators, administrators and superintendents aren’t being given a choice. It’s either do the practice testing for McGraw-Hill or be punished for not complying.

Let’s just look at article C.1.  of the State’s anti-bullying law: “Harassment, intimidation, and bullying means any gesture, written or verbal expression, or physical act that a reasonable person should know will harm another student, damage another student’s property, place another student in reasonable fear of harm to the student’s person or damage to the student’s property, or insult or demean any student tor group of students in such a way as to disrupt or interfere with the  school’s educational mission or the education of any student. ‘Harassment, intimidation, and bullying’ include, but are not limited to, a gesture or written, verbal, or physical act;….”

If Superintendent Barresi’s written threat to schools is not bullying, by the State’s own definition, I don’t know what is.

What kind of example is this for our kids?

Categories: Editor’s Blog