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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

When teachers are bullies



Student-on-student bullying gets a lot of attention. But is there a problem with teachers bullying students, too? According to this piece in the latest Teaching Tolerance magazine (put out by the Southern Poverty Law Center), a Baylor College of Medicine researcher found "45 percent of sampled teachers said they had bullied a student at some point in their careers." The piece begins with this provocative lead:

His teacher had urged him all year to be more organized, but he still had trouble keeping his work area neat. The boy’s papers and other materials were often scattered around, and when his classmates were ready to move on to the next activity, he lagged behind—trying to corral the clutter. On this particular day, the teacher had lost her patience. According to a district report, she chastised her student: “Your area looks like a pig sty. Piggy, piggy! Oink, oink!”

Exactly what happened next has been difficult to pin down. But by the time another teacher entered the classroom, the boy had been surrounded by his classmates, who taunted him with “oinks” and other pig sounds. Alone in the center, the boy was sobbing.

By some accounts, his teacher—a veteran of 38 years— encouraged the children to join the chant. She told district officials she didn’t notice when they began to taunt him, although she did agree it wasn’t appropriate behavior. The children themselves turned out to be somewhat unreliable witnesses. They were just kindergartners.

(Here's an AP story about the alleged incident, which happened earlier this year in Tennessee.)

[Last modified: Thursday, September 22, 2011 10:40am]


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