I recently examined a petition for charter renewal from a local administrative team. I have been involved with charter renewals before at the secondary and post-secondary levels. I like data. Data is useful. In this case qualitative data met quantitative data to convince me this charter needs a chance.
Then came the voices of parents and students. One parent spoke publicly on the decrease in academic performance his child experienced at Alcovy High School. The charter provided a successful option, a way out. He wrote a letter too and he signed it.
Students spoke. More than one mentioned bullying. Bullying? I have written about bullying before. I thought I got rid of that when I wrote about it sort of like the White House felt they had replaced war with kinetic military action and terrorism with manmade disasters simply through semantics.
Bullying. It was enough to make me mad that these kids endure bullying in other schools that interferes with instruction. I remember a wonderful chorus teacher we lost last year who did performances with students on bullying.
These student voices, combined with the data, cemented my case. I want this option to exist for students for whom the only option is a hallway of bullying, intimidation and fear. These kids are worth it and more can make the choice to attend this charter named Challenge Charter Academy.
These young people showed up to the fight. They trembled with quivering lips. They stood uneasily. One teacher was overcome with emotion.
Parents and students spoke of improved academic performance at the charter. They revealed close relationships with teachers and a principal who knows them by name. Interpersonal caring. Relationship building. Higher achievement in smaller settings. And they built it.
Their numerical data is not off the charts but throw stones at them only after you let me inspect the data from your glass house.
Bullying, in part, inspired these kids to choose this charter. So what does bullying look like?
Bullies use tactics of coercion, fear, public ridicule, intimidation and threats to build a case, make a claim, assert an allegation or prove a point when one fails to exist in the first place. Bullies throw people into unnecessary situations with no shred of evidence to account for how anyone arrived.
But at their core bullies are weak, fragile, vulnerable creatures who do harm to public trust in school hallways and in larger settings while hoping you buy their agenda.
Bullies deny, deflect and delay. They have much to hide and more to lose.
Bullies refuse to offer transparency, opting instead for mob rule, smoke screens, mud slings and mirrors of deflection, anything to put the hunter on another scent or down a different trail.
I want the bullies out of our schools and I want them out now.
Until that time, I want options for kids to then show up in packed houses full of old people and tell me why they love their school.
I don't hear that a lot lately.
Jeff Meadors may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.