Thread: Federal Bullies Take On Bullying
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#1 Federal Bullies Take On Bullying
08-13-2013, 02:41 PM
- Join Date
- Jun 2008
Federal Bullies Take On Bullying
...The executive branch has decided that school bullying is a problem of such epic dimensions that the Departments of Agriculture, Defense, Justice, Education, the Interior, and Health and Human Services are required to fight it, along with the Federal Trade Commission, the National Council on Disability, the Health Resources and Services Administration, the Office for Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The next time that someone complains about draconian federal budget cuts, ask him how a straitened interior-department staffer can find time in his overburdened days to attend federal interagency anti-bullying workgroups...
...What has changed? Certainly not the incidence of student sadism. To the contrary, federal data suggest that bullying may be waning. In the 1999–2000 school year, 29 percent of schools reported weekly bullying; by 2007–08, that number was down to 25 percent, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
Nor is it the case that bullying is underaddressed. Forty-eight states require school districts to adopt detailed policies against bullying. Students at every level are routinely pulled from history and math classes to get anti-bullying training. In fact, students are so aware of the issue that they now claim bullied status as the “defense du jour” if they don’t get their way, says Robert Breidenstein, superintendent of New York’s Salamanca School District....
...What has increased in recent years is gay political power and its importance to Democrats. The current anti-bullying blitz was initiated by Kevin Jennings, Obama’s initial assistant deputy secretary for the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools. Jennings had earlier founded the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) in 1990 to end bias against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students in “kindergarten through high school.” Though the federal bullying initiative encompasses some forms of bullying not directed against gays, its most prominent backers are in the gay advocacy establishment.
The anti-bullying crusade took off in October 2010, when the Department of Education’s assistant secretary for civil rights, Russlynn Ali, sent out a “guidance letter” about bullying to the nation’s 15,000 school districts. Though the letter purported only to clarify schools’ legal obligations regarding bullying, it in fact hugely expanded those obligations without going through the normal channels. The federal judiciary and bureaucracy had already taken it upon themselves to make schools liable to lawsuit for students’ bullying behavior, even though Congress has never addressed bullying. Ali’s guidance letter goes far beyond that judge-made law, however, opening schools up to lawsuits for bullying that they don’t even know about. Furthermore, even if a school has put an end to bullying against a particular victim and disciplined the perpetrators, it can still be sued if it has failed to send the “entire school community” (teachers, staff, students, and parents) to training sessions on its discrimination policies and its “expectations of tolerance”—especially, in the case of antigay harassment, regarding “gender stereotypes.”
In the federal government’s view, some bullying victims are more equal than others, thanks to the selective coverage of the civil rights laws. If you’re a scrawny white boy teased for your big ears and lousy baseball skills, you are of no interest to the feds or the plaintiffs’ bar. If, however, you’re a scrawny white boy teased for being gay or for being a member of a racial or religious minority, you are a Class A bully victim, with an arsenal of potential federal causes of action against your school.
As with the Obama administration’s discipline initiative, the main winners are the training industry and attorneys. Scarce school funds that could be used for library books or field trips will now be siphoned off to equity consultants and lawyering fees.....
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