The National Education Association is highlighting October as “Bullying Prevention Month.”
"I hope to never hear an educator or a parent or a Sunday school teacher say to a frightened bullied child, 'Just ignore it.' Schools that are seeing a decrease in bullying are not ignoring it. They are acting," NEA president Lily Eskelsen Garcia said, according to the NEA website.
Kudos to the union for focusing on the problem, but it might be taken a little more seriously if its rhetoric didn’t ring so hollow. [pullquote]
When it comes to public school governance, the NEA and its state and local affiliates are the biggest bullies on the playground.
One of the worst examples is the Framingham, Massachusetts teachers union, which was recently locking horns with its school committee over typical adult issues: pay and benefits.
When the union didn't get its way at the bargaining table, labor leaders decided to employ a more personal strategy.
“Many of us have felt some degree of stress in coming to work due to the contract struggles and it is not right that the committee put this on us,” union president Sam Miskin wrote in an email to his members, according to the Boston Globe.
“For all of the stress we have felt, we owe it to the committee to return the favor... The focus will now be on making the committee feel the same stresses that we have.”
How did the union do that?
Union leaders began collecting personal information on school committee members, like the health clubs they belong to and where their spouses work, all in an attempt to intimidate – dare I say bully – them.
The goal, of course, was to disrupt their personal lives and make them wish they had never volunteered to govern the school.
There are plenty of other examples, everywhere.
Last year, the Strongsville, Ohio teachers union walked out on students for an incredible eight weeks.
Picketers set up a virtual gauntlet for educators who showed up at the local police department to apply for jobs as replacement teachers during the strike.
One striker was captured on video yelling “Rosa Parks would be ashamed!” at a black applicant. Another striker was later cited for allegedly swerving his vehicle at a van full of replacement teachers.
Unionists also picketed outside the home of David Frazee, the school board president. Frazee wasn’t home at the time, but his son counted 25 people standing outside the house chanting “fair contract.”
Imagine the fear a child must feel being home alone and having strangers yelling at his house.
Another board member, Carl Naso, reported having about 20 people in front of his house holding a sign that looked like a tombstone.
Fearing for his 10-year-old daughter’s safety, he arranged a police escort for her to go to the bus stop.
In 2011, the Michigan Education Association picketed outside the insurance business of a state representative, Marty Knollenberg. It happened because Knollenberg had the audacity to support education reform legislation, and the union wanted to be sure his clients knew it. They paced along the sidewalk, just feet from his building.
After Michigan adopted a right-to-work law, and many teachers left their unions, a Michigan Education Association newsletter published the names of numerous members who resigned, in an obvious effort to publicly humiliate them.
When the union’s “recommended reading” list includes Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals,” such bullying will naturally be a part of the tactics used against school boards and, ultimately, taxpayers.
After all, Alinsky believed the ends justify the means – even if it means bullying. Ethics be damned; bring on the victory. Decency is for suckers.
That’s the lesson the union is delivering to students.
So while students are rightly taught to be respectful and accepting of other students, how about the unionized adults use the month to check their actions, too? Because according to today’s definition of bullying, many of the union’s tactics would certainly fall in that category.
Kyle Olson is founder of Education Action Group and EAGnews.org, a news service dedicated to education reform and school spending research, reporting, analysis and commentary.