Mineral Wells Index, Mineral Wells, TX

September 9, 2012

Letters to the Editor – Sept. 9, 2012

Mineral Wells Index

Response to writer’s response

Dear Editor,

I want to reply to Mr. Thompson’s response (“Upset over bullying column,” Letters to the Editor, Sept. 2) to Sue Seibert’s column on bullying as a former teacher/counselor trainer, professor at a university and as a former trainer for counselors statewide under contracts from the Texas Education Agency.

First, I very much believe that Mrs. Seibert was saying that a “law” does not necessarily make change and was agreeing that bullying can be very harmful and “another” law about it will not make the needed changes. Yes, many, many tax dollars have been designated by the federal government to provide training for teachers, counselors and students to “stopping bullying” in their schools and those programs as designed are very good. The major problem is that “all teachers and counselors do not get trained” and, of course, all principals do not get trained through such funding. No, there were not many programs like the “Anti-Bullying Funded Programs” when we were in public schools, but the school personnel did have more authority to control students in schools than they do now because of “laws.”

Mr. Thompson’s research on kids and suicide shows a very serious initiative on his part and far too many young people do attempt suicide in today’s world. That is why teaching “coping” skills is so very important for schools and for parents, but both groups need training on how to provide that in their lessons and counseling sessions to children of all ages. Also, the number of deaths quoted by the CDC does not attribute all 4,400 deaths to bullying as there are many other factors.

There are laws about standards for instruction and there are standards for counselors in the schools and the skills necessary for students including how to “deal with others” and coping skills that are found in those standards. These are areas stressed in the “counselor’s role” in public schools. The problem is that standards or no standards, most university and service center teacher/counselor/administrative training programs do not stress or teach those standards as much as they do for the content standards and subjects (English, Math, Science and History). Those content standards are what the regulations address in terms of “school report cards.”

Also, it was my experience as a public school teacher from grades six through 12 and a teacher/counselor trainer that most professors do not adjust their teaching to address changes in society and students so it is hard to just blame the teachers, counselors or principals. Many times those professors have not worked full time in a school setting or even spent time observing in one even though they are teaching those who will or who are currently in the schools.

Under today’s state and federal restrictions for school personnel, parents must be more involved to address such issues. I stress that parents must be involved with their students and with the schools. Again, though the parents need to be trained to identify issues with their kids and on how to handle them. Many kids in schools today had “kids” for parents and their parents need help.

I am glad that this issue has been given so much publicity as students need all the help they can get. It is, in my opinion, that passing more and more laws will not help as much as providing assistance and training would and that means to all parties involved – kids, parents and school personnel. If the districts’ school boards would encourage that as much as they do any other issue in their local districts, I do believe that would make a greater difference than any law could ever do.

 It is also very important to realize that if youth are not taught the coping skills and personal skills at a young age, how and when do they learn to deal with the bullies they encounter as adults and in the offices and work places later in life?

Jessie Teddlie, Ph.D., Whitt