Do As I Say, Not As I Do
The North Providence school system is getting national notice for letting cameras into their schools to help film the documentary “Bullying: Words Can Kill“. This is a problem that is finally getting some notice around the country, as it has gone on for decades.
We have seen multiple examples of suicide among school children (like this, this and this) because of bullying and the newer version, cyberbullying. The previous kind of bullying is what probably all of us saw growing up on the playgrounds. The biggest and seemingly toughest kid in school would get what he wanted by either verbally or physically intimidating other students. Now, the cyberbullying has extended itself to the internet where rumors and stories can reach dozens or hundreds of classmates in seconds through email, texting, Facebook or Twitter.
It’s great for the kids themselves to learn what are the results of this bullying, and what it does to others. Take the example of one eighth grader
“I never hurt anyone,” Berdecia says. “I called them names, spread rumors and said stuff.”
This student was invited to join the school’s anti-bullying campaign and he eventually came to see the light.
“I thought, ‘No one should be treated like that.”
So why is it that an eighth grader can figure out that “no one should be treated like that” but adults still haven’t? Even professional, educated adults working in professional fields? Or worse, why is it that others in the field of education work so hard to eliminate this behavior among the students of their schools, yet implicitly condone this behavior among adults and peers?
This week, the Deputy Executive Director of the National Education Association of Rhode Island was convicted of cyber-stalking. The NEARI is one of the two organizations in RI that represent school teachers. Another NEARI officer, Secretary Louis Rainone has been involved in a number of altercations as well, including comments to the East Greenwich School Committee “All of you who voted for this will burn in hell.” Then at a State House demonstration where someone was videotaping the proceedings and after Rainone attempted to prevent the filming and was informed of the cameraman’s First Amendment rights to film, he replied “My First Amendment is that I’m gonna take you outside and stick this [camera] up your ass.” Most recently WPRO’s Bob Plain recorded an encounter with State Rep. Jon Brien when Rainone offered to step inside the elevator and “show you how charming I can be”.
Is this all behavior that the teachers condone? Implicitly, they do. They pay these people to represent them. While North Providence is represented by the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) not NEARI, other schools in the state have their own anti-bullying efforts. Some of those schools are represented by NEARI and are represented by Leidecker and Rainone. Here is a list of cities and schools who are represented by NEARI*:
- East Greenwich
- East Providence
- Exeter/West Greenwich
- Little Compton
- New Shoreham
- North Kingstown
- North Smithfield
- RI School for the Deaf
- South Kingstown
Until the teachers at those schools step up and tell their NEA that this behavior is intolerable both in the schools, around town and on the internet,
they are implicitly condoning this behavior and are involved in hypocrisy between their leadership and the lessons they’re teaching at school.
* – information gathered from http://www.neari.org/