Behind bullying behavior we usually find a depressed individual who needs help. We need to understand why a child bullies and get them that help so they will stop bullying.
Most people understand how serious the issue of bullying is to children and the country, and how schools should be on the forefront of addressing bullying.
The latest plan in regard to bullying in Florida is to give parents of the students who are bullied private school vouchers. Pay attention America. They’re touting this plan for the country.
The Florida legislature, still guided by Gov. Jeb Bush and his chief executive officer Patricia Levesque of the lobbying group Foundation for Excellence in Education, see this as a way to push vouchers.
What’s sad about this plan is that it does nothing to address bullying and the mental health problems that might exist behind it. If a child bullies another child, and if the bullied child leaves, the bully will go on to bully someone else.
If schools don’t have programs to address mental health, bullying will eventually mushroom out of the school and into the general public. We all know what can happen when bullying behavior is ignored.
If Bush and his friends really wanted to help end bullying, they could address policy that really helped children.
Here are just two school issues they could change.
- Instead of vouchers to private schools, Bush, Levesque, and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos should #rethinkschool by ending 3rd grade retention based on high-stakes testing. Failing a child in 3rd grade means they could grow into a bully, or they could be bullied. Retained children are often older than their peers and they look older. This stokes bullying. That’s one welcome move policymakers could change.
- Another is to reinstate adequate recess in every school. By recess I mean 20 minute breaks several times a day. Children socialize during recess. It’s where teachers can observe interactions and assist children to work out the kinks that show up in their behavior. Well-trained teachers recognize bullying behavior on the playground and can immediately address it. They can find extra support for the child. Recess is not organized P.E. or following directions on an interactive video game. Observing children playing on their own, cannot take place in heavily structured environments. The American Academy of Pediatrics recognizes the importance of recess to how children get along, as do many teachers, parents and citizens. They say: Through play at recess, children learn valuable communication skills, including negotiation, cooperation, sharing, and problem solving as well as coping skills, such as perseverance and self-control.
Florida’s vouchers to private schools are not really about bullying and children, they’re about dismantling public schools. Bush wants every child out of public school and facing a computer screen for their education.
Technology won’t get rid of bullying. It will only change to cyberbullying and more expensive programs to control cyberbullying. This never gets to the problem of bullying behavior.
The Voucher Isn’t Enough to Attend a Good Private School
With Florida’s plan bullied children would receive $6,700 to use toward tuition costs to private schools through sales tax credits on automobile purchases. According to Education Week, when someone buys a car in Florida, they would have the option to give $105 they would otherwise pay in sales tax to the scholarship fund. The program would be capped at $41 million a year. This is another way to cut funding to real public schools.
But $6,700 doesn’t buy you much these days when it comes to schooling.
For example, Lake Highland Prep in Orlando is a good private school, yet they charge the following fees:
- $17,250.00 for elementary school
- $19,600.00 for grade 6
- $21,450.00 for 7-12
The voucher of $6,700 will not help a poor or middle class household. Children will only be able to travel to another public school far away from their home, or attend an unproven, substandard choice school.
Smaller private schools are not accountable to the general public, and parents don’t know what kind of behavior or academic learning to expect.
Private Schools and Bullying
Bullying can also take place in private schools. Although, good private schools often control enrollment. They don’t permit students who have problematic behavior to stay in the school. Public schools do not have that option. Yet, public schools are the very place to address bullying and what could be a serious mental health issue.
Good private schools also have smaller class sizes, more teachers and staff, and closed circuit TVs to monitor school grounds. They have less diversity. They might be focused on religion, gifted and talented students, or a group of students with similar culture and beliefs.
Ninety percent of students in America attend public schools. Most Americans want to save their free public schools.
Parents want consistently outstanding public schools that deal with the problem of bullying.
If parents have a child who has a problem bullying, they want help to turn that behavior around. They don’t want their child to wind up in a school that has become a dumping-ground with other students who bully.
Finally, most of us know this Florida bullying plan is just another scheme to force parents into school choice. It isn’t about bullying at all.
Arianna Prothero. “In Florida, Bullied Students Will Get Vouchers to Attend Private School.” Education Week. March 8, 2018.