I had a similar reaction as Mr. Hess when I read about Secretary Duncan’s statements concerning bullying and the possible link to civil rights violations.
Bullying is a serious concern and a major challenge when working with children. Minimizing the effect of bullying in schools is going to require a multi-frame approach to the solution. An approach that includes structural, political, symbolic, and personal solutions. This is easier said than done. The effects of bullying and the emotional response to it are often translated through the very personal human resource frame. Unfortunately, I am not sure the Secretary of Education operates in an environment that can truly view concerns from that frame. Rather, we look to the Secretary of Education to provide the political leadership to secure the resources necessary to provide public education.
In this case, the tone of the message has obviously worked to stir up fear and concern in the minds of some educators. Maybe the Secretary should be more prudent next time and send a message that models the type of environment he expects in schools – one of support and concern, rather than threatening.
He is correct, it is hard to learn in an unsafe environment. It is also very hard to teach in one also.