National Bullying Prevention Month, and today is
Unity Day—a day to collectively stand up to bullying. Educators often serve as critical role models of respect and understanding—a source of strength and support for students who feel marginalized or intimidated. But when it comes to the debate about public education, there are times when you don’t see role models. You see mudslingers. And you just want to cover the kids’ eyes. The education conversation has become increasingly shrill and often includes personal, bullying attacks on
education leaders who apparently incited the attacks simply by having the audacity to push hard to improve schools, or to try and
lead a conversation about the best way to support students. Whether it’s on social media or in
mailers, the level of
name-calling in these conversations is shameful.
Let’s Have a Better Conversation
There are a lot of committed people, good ideas, and strong convictions in the discussion about public education. Feedback and honest deliberation about what is and isn’t working for kids are needed to make this a better conversation. We need debate. We need diverse views. We need as many educators, parents, local leaders, and students as possible to be part of the conversation.
When individuals or organizations cross the line and bully people out of conversations, go after their families, or attack the messenger instead of the message, they do a disservice to us all. Nobody deserves to be personally attacked for expressing a view on how to have great schools. But bullies aren’t terribly interested in your views. They’re interested in
stifling your views, and they use ugliness and venom to do that. It’s not about convincing, advocating, or discussing. It’s about scaring off, shutting up, or shouting down those who the bully sees as a threat. Shouldn’t we set a better example? We’re all part of this to help our schools get better. We all believe in the power of education to inspire, to elevate, to unite, to advance. Shouldn’t our conversation about education do the same? During a month when we ask our children to check their behavior and work together to stop bullying and cyberbullying, it’s time for the adults in the conversation to do the same.
Michael Vaughn was the founding Communications Director of Education Post. Prior to that, Mike worked for 18 years in the communications offices of two urban school districts. He served in a variety of communications roles for the Chicago Public Schools starting in 1996, shortly after Mayor Richard M. Daley took control of CPS, and eventually served as the district's Communications Director until ...