Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Bullying: Are you Serious - You are Supposed to be Leaders

  Are you Serious?
You are Supposed to be Leaders

Lead by example.  Two wrongs do not make a right.

Today was a normal day.  In my mailbox there were four political flyers promoting candidates for the upcoming elections.  Three of these were high-quality, 8.5" x 11", color flyers printed on thick paper.  I have probably received about 20 of these over the past few days.  Although about half of them have had a positive tone, I could not help but notice that the other half have a very disrespectful tone.  One of these flyers caught my eye, and seemed especially disrespectful.  In fact, I would classify it as EXTREME BULLYING.

I am not writing this blog to influence anyone on who they should vote for in the upcoming elections.  Personally, after years of research and deep thought, I have decided to stop voting altogether.  I am not in support of Republicans.  I am not in support of Democrats.  In my opinion, the majority of politicians seem to be the most ignorant and disconnected people with regards to the real world.  I have watched our government run the education system into the ground.  I have had hope with candidates who have been elected, only to be disappointed as we have a system that seemingly requires one party to constantly tear down the other party.  I know the media has convinced us all that we are terrible, unpatriotic, and radical citizens if we do not vote, but I don't believe that.  I work hard to make this world a better place, but have chosen to not waste my time participating in the game called politics.

I have been an educator for 12 years and I have always done everything possible to advocate for the students.  I went into teaching because of the fact that I love working with students and helping them to become happy and successful adults.  I promised my students when I began teaching, that if I ever thought that I was unable to help provide them the best education possible, I would resign and work hard to make change.  Last year was the first year that I had trouble looking students in the eyes and telling them that I thought the schools were helping them to become happy and successful adults.  Due to an increased obsession with standardized testing and a fictional world created by Universities, I feel that the education system has come close to being dangerously irrelevant.  I followed through on what I said, handed in the keys to my dream job, resigned, and have been working as hard as possible to inspire and implement change in education through public speaking, consulting, and founding AssistEd Shift, which is a website I am working on which will empower educators and students.

I live in a city in which we have had multiple ( at least four) children commit suicide in the past few years.  Two of these suicides were at the middle school which I taught at.  In my opinion, the number one factor associated with teen suicides, is bullying.    The following is an excerpt from the Psychiatric Times website:

Studies show that bullying behavior in youth is associated with depression, suicidal ideation, and suicide attempts. These associations have been found in elementary school, middle school, and high school students. Moreover, victims of bullying consistently exhibit more depressive symptoms than nonvictims; they have high levels of suicidal ideation and are more likely to attempt suicide than nonvictims. - See more at: http://www.psychiatrictimes.com

Technology, which is a wonderful and necessary tool for students to learn in order to be successful in our digital world, has also provided opportunities for cyber bullying.  This has made bullying easier, more public, and more frequent.  Although the schools have received a lot of criticism for "allowing bullying to take place", this is nonsense.  It is impossible to stop all of the bullying that takes place in school, out of school, and through technology.  If anything, I feel that the schools have worked EXTREMELY hard to try stopping bullying,

Although some bullying will probably always take place, I believe that everyone needs to work together to stop bullying.  Schools, parents, community businesses and organizations, community members, and politicians.

This is the reason that I found today's mail exceptionally disgusting.

One of the flyers showed the following pictures:

I think that it is probably quite obvious that this candidate did not hold up signs that said these things about himself.  This obviously implies that someone took the time to manipulate these photographs to "BULLY" this candidate in hopes of demoralizing them so that the candidate they support can win.  This is childish and unacceptable bullying.

Although I am not friends with this particular candidate, I do know who he is.  In every encounter I have had with him, he has been an extremely nice, respectful, and caring person.  Last year he volunteered to come in to our project-based program for high school students and spent a good part of his day talking to them and answering their questions.  It was quite obvious he had respect for the students and I admired that.  Again, this does not mean that I am endorsing him or even voting for him, as I am allergic to politics, but I speak about him as a person;  a person, with feelings and emotions.  I will admit that he has made some poor decisions over the past couple of years, but is there someone out there that can honestly claim that they have not made some really poor decisions?  The terms used to describe his actions portray a much harsher than reality.

One example is:

This candidate is "anti-women"?  When my wife was going through her battle with breast cancer, he was very kind and supportive to her.  I have seen him interact with men and women and always appear very respectful.  Also, I believe he is married to a woman.

This is a classic Straw Man Fallacy and is a classic form of bullying in which one greatly exaggerates another person's position in order to make it easier to dislike, dismiss or refute them.  

In the heat of a political moment this candidate said an inappropriate statement to a female colleague on the floor of the legislature.  This candidates statement was a form of bullying and was childish and unacceptable, but it wasn't derogatory specifically to women.  This action does not qualify him as being "anti-women".  I would bet all the money I have that this candidate has never filled out a survey saying he is "anti-women" and has never claimed that he is "anti-women".  If he would have made these statements to a man on the legislature floor, would you have accused him of being "anti-man"?

This is also an Ad Hominem Fallacy in which his opponents are trying to tear down his character (BULLY) in order to claim that he is unable to do his job properly.  This is bullying.

Another example:

More wasteful spending?  There are a lot of problems in this world including children in poverty and an underfunded education system, and the maker of this 8.5" x 11" high-quality, colorful flyer is talking about wasting money?  Ironic.  I would classify making a plethora of color copies on high quality paper and sending them to everyone in order to bully another human being as "wasteful spending".  This seems like an odd example to point a finger at someone for.

One last thing I noticed on the page is pictured above.  Let's teach him a lesson?  This sounds revengeful.  It sounds like a way to rally people against another human being by discrediting him.  Will we ever have a politician that wins because they are "more awesome", instead of trying to prove that the other candidate is "more horrible"?

In conclusion, by the time I had looked this flyer over, I was disgusted.  Bullying continues to devastate children and ruin people's lives.  In the midst of this, the role models that our children have to look up to include the "supposed" leaders of this country who are attempting to get into office by bullying others, and making it seem like an acceptable way to benefit yourself?  These flyers are laying around many houses and children see them.  They also see the countless advertisements on television that act as tasteless models of over-the-top bullying.

At this point I was DISGUSTED by the candidate that would create this flyer.  I now wanted to know who it was and contact them to see if they would ever consider explaining why they are a good candidate instead of tearing down and bullying their opponent.

I looked for the candidates name.  Then I looked some more.  I couldn't find it!  That is strange, I thought.  Then I noticed the fine print on the top of the page which read this:

Paid for by the American Federation of Children Action Fund.

Time out!  The American Federation for Children is responsible for the worst case of bullying that I have seen in politics this year?  This makes absolutely no sense.  Is this a federation that stands for children?  Or, is this a federation that stands for a different agenda and hides behind the guise of helping children?

I didn't know much about this group so I decided to look them up.  Their mission statement, on their website (http://www.federationforchildren.org/about-us/mission/) reads:

The American Federation for Children and the Alliance for School Choice seek to improve our nation's K-12 education by advancing a systematic and sustainable public policy that empowers parents, particularly those in low-income families, to choose the education they determine is best for their children.

I figured they had to have some political agenda.  On this same URL they had a section titled "WHAT WE DO", but I did not see "bullying" anywhere in that paragraph.

Perhaps this organization should consider:

- Changing their name to the American Federation of the School Choice Agenda
- Stop bullying other people using fallacies,. making it seem acceptable.

If you truly want what is best for children, you should consider growing up, stopping the bullying of others, and trying to set a positive example for children.

I fully understand that writing an opinionated piece like this could have a negative impact on my career and reputation.  I realize that this organization could turn the tables and bully me, which is something they seem very good at.  In fact, I wrote this post several days ago and have considered not posting it for this reason.  It is time, however, for us to STAND UP to bullying and advocate for our children.  If we wait for the politicians and the supposed "child-friendly" organizations to stand up for them, it may be too late.


Oliver Schinkten
Learning Facilitator, Speaker, Writer, Consultant, Innovator, advocate for students


AssistEd Shift


  1. Ollie, I wrote a whole long reply basically saying I agree 100% and stating a little more of my thoughts but for some reason it never published it. I am too tired to go through it all again! But I am behind you in all that you do and I admire the stance you have taken. But you knew that already!!!!

    1. Thank you for your support, Dawn! It is GREATLY appreciated!!! I want to do anything and everything I can possibly do to advocate for students.

      I hope all is well!

  2. I just want to say how much I applaud you for writing this. Bullying (under the guise of "just teasing and making fun") at my school got me completely riled up this year and I complained to an administrator who thought I was being ridiculous. Then we turn around and have an assembly on anti-bullying. Makes me CRAZY over the double speak that SO MANY people have about this topic. Keep on standing up for what is right!! and THANK YOU for doing so!

    1. Thank you, Paula, for your support and kind words. Also, thank you for being an advocate for kids. It is ridiculous that they have to see this childish bullying take place by supposed leaders during the elections. More can be done to prevent bullying, but it needs to begin with positive role modeling. When is a politician going to run a campaign claiming that he/she would be a GREAT person for the position, rather than throw mud and explain why their opponent is a HORRIBLE person.

      Keep up your advocacy. Students deserve it!


  3. Oliver,
    Excellent post with many great points. Good for you staying true to yourself and starting your own movement. Best of luck to you!

  4. Oliver,
    I completely agree with you that public schools are not preparing students for the 21st century. You stated it perfectly when you said that they are "dangerously irrelevant." I've been a public high school English teacher for the past ten years, and it's very sad to see how many students enter college, just to drop out or be asked to leave a semester or two later. Public school curriculum evolved in the 1800s and 1900s to enhance compliance and control in the general population, as most men entered factories and most women raised families. However, that is not what society looks like anymore, yet our curriculum has not changed to keep up with the changing times. Our students suffer for it. I know most of this post was about bullying, but this part of it resonated with me the most. Thank you for all you advocacy on behalf of American public education.

    1. I completely agree with your comments! It is a frustrating situation that needs to be dealt with. I really believe that students deserve a much better, more relevant, education than they are receiving. Teachers everywhere need to start preparing students' for their futures, not our past.

      Your comments are greatly appreciated!!! Thank you!

      Oliver Schinkten


Please engage in the discussion. I would love to hear what you have to say!