Those outside of education may wonder why professional educators work so hard (or they should be working hard) in stamping out Bulling behaviors in our schools. There are perhaps some things about our profession that I should reveal. First, I love young people and have spent my entire adult life working to empower them through education. But young people (and in my case teenagers); also have a strong capacity to sometimes be very selfish and unkind; we understand the reason for these “transitional” behaviors; and I have always talked to teachers about: “not taking it personally” when a student acts in a selfish, or insensitive way. We rely here on our knowledge of developmental psychology that informs us that they are in a very dynamic evolving stage in their lives; and at this point of their developmental journey they are struggling to establish their “adult identities” and also a process by which they will make moral and ethical judgments. And so, in essence much of the time, “they know not what they are saying.” There are of course always the many wonderful exceptions; those students who have a higher level of spiritual development (spiritual literacy/intelligence?) These students constantly show a strong inclination to be sensitive, kind and considerate to all. On another end of the moral-ethical scale are those students who will seek bullying as one of their primary tools of social communication. Very often, (and another factor for adults to consider) this bullying approach is a socially acquired trait inherited from one or both parents. A parent who utilizes harsh physical and/or verbal techniques as the primary disciplinary/communication tool with their child; has taught that child that the way to address problems between humans is through the utilization of these same harsh and abrasive techniques. As a principal I once had a student in my office  who would constantly utter a curse word during the school day; not necessary at anyone in particular, but it could be if something went wrong with one of his science labs or he made a mistake in the gym (he was always sincerely apologetic after cursing). I brought his mother in for a conference; and when I explained  what he was doing in school, she turned to him and said: “How many times have I told you to watch your #*&%! mouth when you are in in a &&%$#! place like a *&*%$#! School; I am &*%$#! tired of talking to you; If I have to leave my job, and come back up to this school I am going to beat your &%$# a&#!” Well, I thought to myself; herein we find the problem! This young man has been raised to believe that cursing is a normal part of human communication! But the common theme I found with all students who engaged in “bullying behaviors”, both physical and verbal is fear. I found when the bully was alone, without an audience, and in my office, the profile of a very frightened child emerged.  And so the primary motivating factor for their bulling behavior was fear. Bullying was a “best defense is an aggressive offense” strategy. This approach is utilized to cover their own secret pain, perhaps based on their being victims of bullying at home, a real or perceived inability, incompleteness or a missing life component. Bullying in school is a young person’s response, however misguided, to their psychic pain and sense of inadequacy. The fact that bullying never fills what is empty or missing in them, and actually creates an additional area of pain for them (particularly in my schools), is lost in their developmental teenage logic system. All they know is that if they can find that “student” for which they can rally others to participate, or watch the bully inflict some form of public abuse, and thus divert the student body’s attention away from what is missing or not going well in their own lives, then it “works”. Professional educators must utilize a two-prong approach to any signs of bullying behaviors; one is swift and severe disciplinary action against the perpetrators; their punishment must not only be harsh, it must be public (other students must know about it). First, to discourage similar behaviors from occurring. Students are very smart, such that when they see what happened to student X for bullying behavior, they (most of them) take care to make sure that the same punishment is not visited on them (Foucault’s hypothesis for the historical emergence of “public executions”). Second the entire student body must feel: “That this school is a safe place to be”; and for Black and Latino male students in particular, it is safe and ok to be, and act smart. (Fordham/Ogbu’s hypotheses on the pressures on non-white students to “dumb-down” out of fear of ridicule). The other important component and complement to direct and sever prohibitions against bulling behavior; is to have the counseling staff engage these bullying students in identifying and addressing the real source of their bullying behavior. That is, the real source of their pain, for which they are so inadequately and incorrectly trying to heal through bullying behaviors. Why (and I admit bias here) high schools are important is that it is in a real sense our last chance to help young people to create a positive process for making good ethical and moral judgments; before they go into the “real world”. Society unfortunately will cheer and encourage the bully because he satisfies the worst of our human instincts. The same press that cheered Mr. Christie’s behavior when he would belittle a speaker at a town hall meeting; or pick on  some group in the state to call names and denigrate; have now turned on him. For sure the “crisis at the bridge” was not created by the news media. This pathetic bullying behavior was in fact a crises in the head of the bully governor. Bullying, for the bully becomes the best and only way of doing business. For the adult bully-leader “non-bullying” methods of persuasion and cooperation would make him feel (in his view), too weak, or take too long. But most important it’s not what the cheering bullying enabling crowd wants to see; they want above all to see a “weaker” opponent diminished, isolated and humiliated. In this way the bully is also sending a message to the cheering audience: “Cross me, and you could be next!”(perhaps the bully has also read Foucault!) The bully does his best work when he can separate the intended victim from the group; a group who if they united, could defeat the bully.  Finally, the  important lesson from Mr. Christie’s “Bridge-gate”, is also the additional important reason why we K-12 educators work so hard against bulling in schools; it is because these bullies will grow up to be adults; maybe even adults with power, influence, and/or financial resources; and instead of knocking over another student’s lunch tray in the cafeteria; they now have the power to closed down a bridge, and hurt thousands of people.



Reference Notes: Discipline & Punish: The Birth of the Prison; Michel Foucault


                               WHITE”.. Signithia Fordham and John Ogbu Urban Review, 1986, Vol. 18, pp. 176-206





This is part of: “the problem”….. And so let me briefly list a few of the differences:

“Arne Duncan: Why can’t we be more like South Korea”..Washington Post

This is  part of: “the problem”….. And so let me briefly list a few of the differences:


  1. South Korea views their children; and education in general, as part of their national economic development plan, therefore; 
  2. They see their children as an important part of the natural resource and development of the nation. The education of large numbers of students in our nation is not important to the nation. (there is no matching passionate urge to educate them) 
  3. There is no organized plan in South Korea to grow and maintain a huge prison, correctional, social service treatment economy by creating a class of second class educational students; who because of a zip code are doomed from childhood to enter those social service/punishment/correctional industries. 
  4. The interest of  the adult educational professionals doesn’t trump the interest of the students. 
  5. Educators in South Korea enter the field as a life-time experience; there are no 2 year “drive by”, “let me experiment on the poor kids”, teachers, therefore; 
  6. The South Korean society views the field of education as a professional career worthy of respect; and therefore has more respect for educators and their work. 
  7. South Korea (are you surprised) has missed out the “reform era” that has so not helped U.S. children. Their educational system is a very traditional: Discipline yourself, apply yourself, study hard, and then study harder. 
  8. Everyone: adults and students are subject to a lot of  standardized and non-standardized assessments. 
  9. The South Korean educational system has in essence a national “common core” of high standards. 
  10. The South Koreans (in case no one has noticed) live in a very racially homogenized society; therefore the teachers who look very much like the students; have the same expectations for the students that they have for themselves; they have not created (as we have here) an artificial: “achievement gap”; because it would not make any sense. 

I could go on but these are the most fundamental differences.



Exceptional Circumstances can Reduce you or Produce you!


“I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”……..Genesis 28:15 (NIV)



I am thinking of the sermon I recently heard that was delivered by T.D. Jakes on the word: Exceptionalism. “Exceptional” he said, “Does not get along with ordinary”. “They are at odds; they can’t communicate with each other because they are not speaking the same language”. And he goes on so say: “At the root of the word Exceptional is the word except:

“Everyone took the easy way, Except…you”

“Everyone compromised their principles, Except…  you”

“Everyone went to ‘that place’,  Except,  you”

(And for educators: everyone sold out the kids,  Except…  you)

It is important to note Jacob (who is an exceptional personality in the Bible) receives this promise alone in the wilderness in a semi-exile state. (His mother Rebekah has sent him to live with her brother Laban because his brother Esau has threatened to kill him) One reason that Jacob is exceptional is that he is essential to a historical narrative. And so connected to the idea of being exceptional is that she/he who is exceptional I believe, must also be essential to the creation of the historical narrative. I confess and reveal a bias here, but this is why I believe that education as a profession is essential. There is something that good people (i.e. Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela); and not so good people (i.e. Adolph Hitler and Pol Pot) all have in common; they all sat for years as children in a school; and they all came away from that learning experience with intellectual skills and tools; and yet they entered the world stage in such a way as to use those academic skills in very different ways; and to very different ends. While we have young people in our  charge; in the time period  when we have  the greatest amount of influential power with them; we must use that critical period to encourage  young people to acquire and grow exceptional moral and ethical talents. I believe that all children are born into a promise placed by God on their lives; in that sense everyone (based on that inherent promise) is extraordinary.  Now you may say that if everyone is born with an extraordinary promise; then how can extraordinary have any meaning? And if there are (in God’s eyes) no “ordinary” people, then what are we comparing extraordinary to? The operative word here is “promise”.  As educators we must as a part of our professional ethics believe that every child has a promise of the extraordinary exceptionalism on them. And in a very practical and truthful sense we really have no idea of the future role that a child sitting in our classroom or school could play in human history. Every human being will during the course of their lifetime, face extraordinary good, and extraordinary bad situations; but it is the response to those situations that produce or reduce, and reveals the level of good-extraordinary character. Failure then could be defined not as a grade on an exam; being forced to take a class over; or failing to be promoted. Rather the true failure in our school systems are those students (and later adults in the world) who fail to realize their divine exceptionalism, and therefore fail to fulfill the life  God has promised them.

Only the poor, the economically and politically disenfranchised can offer their suffering as an industry.

A D.C. charter board official allegedly received $150,000 to help divert money from Options to individuals.“.. Washington Post
Wow….Only the poor, the economically and politically disenfranchised can offer their suffering as an industry.
 “These related-party transactions between for-profit management companies and the nonprofit public charter schools are not onl…y appropriate and lawful, but the same arrangements exist with several other public charter schools,” A. Scott Bolden said. “It seems to me that the government has quite a burden on its hands in proving these claims against my client.” ….Washington Post


Translation: “All you’ll that are doing wrong like me better step up and defend me; I am not going down alone!” Or, “Let’s make a deal Mr. Prosecutor; I can give you names!” The tragedy is that this educational rip-off scheme is presented as a reformational “choice” to an unsuspecting/trusting community, that is so in need of a sincere and honest educational opportunity for their children.

New claims surface in Options charter school case..