Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Every Week Should Be No Name Calling Week

Just sayin'

No Name Calling Week

Ulster Launches Anti-Bullying Effort

School District Policy - as in, what we expect of our children and should model:

The Board of Education is committed to providing a safe, productive and positive learning environment, free of harassment and intimidation. The Board condemns all forms of harassment on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, political affiliation, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, marital status, military status, veteran status, or disability, weight, or the use of a recognized service animal. The Board condemns all forms of hazing and bullying. The Board specifically prohibits harassment, hazing, and bullying on school grounds and at all school-sponsored events, programs and activities, including those that take place at locations off school premises.
It is the policy of the New Paltz Central School District that no member of the school community - board members, students, faculty, administrators, or staff, parents/guardians, vendors/contractors and others who do business with the School District, as well as school district volunteers, visitors, guests and other third parties - may harass or intimidate any other member of the community.

What is Harassment?
Verbal or physical conduct that denigrates or shows hostility or aversion toward an individual because of that person’s race, color, creed, religion, national origin, political affiliation, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity age, marital status, military status, veteran status, disability, weight, or use of a recognized guide dog, hearing dog or service dog animal. Harassment can also occur if conduct is directed toward a person's relatives, friends, or associates. Harassment does one or more of the following:
a) Has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's work performance or is used as a basis for employment decisions (including terms and conditions of employment) affecting such individual and/or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment;
b) Has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with a student's academic performance or participation in an educational or extracurricular activity; and/or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive academic environment; and/or effectively bars the student's access to an educational opportunity or benefit; or
c) Otherwise adversely affects the employment and/or educational opportunities and benefits provided by the District.


Martin McPhillips said...

Yikes. What a sad legalistic mess. I feel bullied and harassed just reading it.

Here's how you say it: "All student are required to treat one another with respect and courtesy, at all times, regardless of their differences. Displays of disrespect and rudeness will not be tolerated. This is a requirement for each and every student to maintain good standing in the school community."

Use plain English. Keep it brief. It is, after all, a mere restatement of the Golden Rule. Parents get it. Students get it. Make sure that it is ingrained in school culture to the extent that violations of it are immediately obvious, draw opprobrium from other students, and are corrected as they occur.

And, yes, I understand that such an approach is now almost impossible in America. But give it a try.

MaryAnn said...

"because of that person’s race, color, creed, religion, national origin, political affiliation, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity age, marital status, military status, veteran status, disability, weight, or use of a recognized guide dog, hearing dog or service dog animal."

Is that all? So, bad spellers, kids whose parent drive dumb cars, kids with ugly shoes, kids who eat odd foods at lunch, kids with purple hair, kids with funny names... and the MILLION other stupid reasons kids make fun of each other are all still game??

As the poster above so eloquently stated - there's already a very less wordy "golden rule".

Instead of focusing on what they shouldN'T do - why not put the focus on teaching kids it doesn't matter what other people think, or even SAY about them!

Not to mention - it's DISGUSTING that this is directed at "the students" - when some grownups are the biggest bullies I know!

At least you included all those service dog having kids.. I'm sure that's a large segment of the bullied population who can now breathe a sigh of relief :/

Terence said...

Okay, the above policy is a "sad, legalistic mess," as is just about everything done by any school district today. (You can tell it's official because school districts don't know how to use Title Case properly. The rules require us to capitalize formal names like "New Paltz Central School District," never generic nouns like "district." But, I digress.)

MaryAnn, you can't teach an old dog new tricks. Have you read this blog for long? Take a look at how the pillars of this community prefer to call each other names instead of acting like grownups. I'm embarrassed these neighbors of mine think this is okay. They're not going to change. Instead, they're teaching our kids to model the behavior of these small-minded, fearful, ignorant people who don't have anything useful to say in the first place. (If they did, you have to think they'd want to share their good ideas instead of berating people they don't like or don't know.)

The policy is godawful, but enforcing the habit of engaging people's minds instead of mocking them is a good one. Kids who spend less time making fun of one another are going to grow into adults that are more useful members of society, people who want to make the world better instead of trying to take down others to advance themselves.

The educational community has to get a grip on the legalese, but as long as we've got a district where sitting board members sue the district (which I have never heard of in any other form of local government), we're stuck with ineffectual, clumsy policies that are vetted by attorneys.

Too bad schools are forbidden to teach clear communication and common sense by example, eh? I wonder what kids are modeling with they read the Code of Conduct? How to find and exploit loopholes, no doubt.

Martin McPhillips said...

It might be good to have higher levels of civility in local political discourse, but it is a category error to suggest that political discourse is either equivalent to or the model for conduct within an institution like a school.

On the other hand, the conduct of school officials does have direct bearing on the institutional standards of the school.

The rottenest political discourse I've seen in New Paltz was the nasty politicization of the fire department, not so much by the former chief and the mayor, which I see as a truly unfortunate breakdown in a longstanding institutional relationship that they both had an obligation to maintain (and the bottom of that conflict cannot be seen in any reporting or account of it that I've read or heard), but mostly in the predatory vituperation of those who used it for their own purposes.

Martin McPhillips said...

Another alternative, or augmentation, to public education:

Anonymous said...

Too bad the Ulster County Legislature doesn't follow its own No Bullying Rule!