"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

"There is a growing technology of testing that permits us now to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn't be doing at all." - Dr. Gerald Bracey author of Rotten Apples in Education

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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

DOE tells principals they are required to monitor speech on and off school property

Rahm Emanuel said, "Never let a good crisis go to waste." Well, the White House created a crisis for them, a crisis of bullying, and the Department of Education jumped at the chance to use it to force school administrators to crack down on free speech. The Daily Caller broke this story today

Back in October, when everyone was in the heat of the campaigns, the Department of Education’s Russlynn Ali sent a Dear Colleague note to school officials across the country alerting them to the new broader definition of civil rights rules they have developed

Key points in this note:

"… federal officials have reinterpreted the civil-rights laws that require school principals to curb physical bullying, as well as racist and sexist speech, that take place within school boundaries. Under the new interpretation, principals and their schools are legally liable if they fail to curb “harassment” of students, even if it takes place outside the school, on Facebook or in private conversation among a few youths."

And Facebook is happily abetting this effort by implementing a feature allowing people to easily report “harassing language” on its network to school officials. In fact, they were said to be “thrilled” to work with the White House. Note, however, that the existence of this feature removes school administrator’s ability to claim they didn’t know about the offensive post. Since the Obama administration’s Department of Justice is not out investigating Black Panther voting rights violations, presumably they will have time to investigate Amanda’s repeated attempts to warn Becky on her Facebook page to stay away from Jason, or else.

But perhaps the biggest kicker in all of this is the Department of Ed’s new found powers to enforce punitive actions. "Following the discovery of “harassment,” officials may have to require mandatory training of students and their families, according to the Ali letter."

Is it any surprise that the force behind the expanded rules is Kevin Jennings, founder of the Gay Lesbian Straight Network and now head of the Dept of Ed’s Safe and Drug Free Schools division? The main focus of the agency's harassment campaign is the protection of homosexual students. Once a broad policy is in place, however, it allows any individual or group to complain about harassment and further REQUIRES the school to take action. No chance for abuse there. No siree.

Lots of people have other suggestions on how to deal with bullies, solutions that are more direct and, more importantly, free. There is now a video from Australia that has gone viral which plays out one of these solutions. It shows a kid who decided not to be the victim of bullying any more.

This video strikes a particular chord with those who have themselves been the victims of bullying or who have kids who have been picked on. The current direction school policy is heading regarding bullying seems to be completely wrong, and only serves to prolong or escalate the problem. Kids have been told to “walk away,” “use their words,” or “find an adult” who can help. Casey can been seen trying to ignore the other kid’s taunts while his friend aptly comments, “Man, this is going to be pathetic.” Kids who fight back or defend themselves are frequently punished because many administrators believe they would be condoning violence if they did not punish everyone who threw a punch. My own son was punched in class and told the attacker to “Knock it h--- off!” For using swear words, he was given a two day detention. Casey was given a 4 day suspension. But at least in Casey’s case, I don’t believe that particular twerp will ever bother him again. The comment sections where this video is posted are loaded with people who said their own torment only stopped once they stood up to the bullies who then backed off and left them in peace.

The privacy rights issues associated with the DOE’s letter are enormous and making very few people happy. The pressure on school administrations is huge now because they are “legally liable” if they don’t actively work to find and stop the harassment. Just what we need in times of fiscal crisis - a new administrator to monitor social networks. What say we all give them a hand and stand up to the bullies at the DOE in the administrator’s (and our own) defense and tell them we will not tolerate this level of intrusion.


  1. I have a solution to bullies.... Disband the DOE and the EPA...

  2. Bob Dean.

    Can I vote for you for President? Here's an idea for your platform. The DOE is the biggest bully in this particular equation. Time for taxpayers to push back on the bullying techniques they are and have been implementing on our kids. Wouldn't that make for great copy?!

  3. I just stumbled upon your blog this morning and am really enjoying reading it!!

    I also have blog with info on education (and other interests) here:

    And an older one here that is updated with the posterous information:

  4. tout les enfants qui se font taxer a l'ecole devraient le denoncer mais quelque fois cela n'est pas possible,il faut etre tres vigilent face a nos enfants.

  5. I am tired of the being bullied by the DOE and all of the Federal Government! Perhaps someone needs to monitor their speech and report them!


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